Thursday, 26 March 2009

What they carried

The first object photos

Amongst other grenades and framents was this tin for rifle grenade fuses, found in the British fire trench

Given the NML recovery of the remains of the Australian soldier in 2008, the find of this shoulder title as part of the topsoil machining was especially poignant.

The Value of Archaeology

Some time to reflect later..

An amazing amount was packed into the No-Man's-Land rescue work at St Yvon. Survey using GPR (radar) and other geophysical techniques were excellent in locating some of the mine shafts in the region - excellent news for the overall project research.

Radar in Operation with Peter and Becs

The top of the bunker we found was viewed in full by the farmer who thinks he will only need to move a small part of it to prevent damage to his plough and there should be no risk of damage to the British trenches. The true value of archaeological research was thus shown.

Working on the trenches, bunker and trench boards

As mentioned earlier - many finds. From butterscotch tins, pipe stems and mirrors to medicine bottles and an Australian shoulder title and (?) Fusilier shoulder title.

A sandbag filled with concrete and still showing the original weft

We always work with the highest standard of bomb cover, essential both in dealing with live ammunition and also in identifying some of the other elements of spent ordnance we uncover. Cheers to Rod and Gontrand once again!

Justin and Gontrand at work

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Beneath Flanders (or Wallonian) fields

The Traverse in the British trench, St Yvon 2009

The team is now back from an enormously successful piece of rescue archaeology at St Yvon. For three days we recorded the remnants of a bunker that lay on the front of the British line. In association with this concrete structure was the multi-phase British fire trench, initially with brick footings and then with trench boards, corrugated iron revetting and A-frames. A concrete-filled sandbag also survived. As one would expect, the trench had hundreds of spent .303 rounds, along with rum jar and more personal items such as a pipe, mirror and some printed material; perhaps part of a racy magazine story at first glance! Much more to follow...

Remnants of the Bunker

Thanks to the Comines-Warneton history Society, Mnr Delrue, Messines Peace Village and (of course) Claude and Nelly at L'Auberge in Ploegsteert. the weather was fine, the beer good and the team excellent. Hurrah!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Ground Penetrating Radar

The Project team want to say a very big thanks to Geomatrix and to their owner Chris Leech.

The company (Geomatrix Earth Science Ltd) offers one of the largest hire pools of near surface geophysical instrumentation in Europe. They are exclusive sales representatives for many of the leading geophysical instrument and software manufacturers. Their instruments are world renowned for their emphasis on providing high data quality and instrument reliability in the most arduous of field conditions (which now includes former battlefields).

Geomatrix are loaning us GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) equipment to help us survey the British line, and to have a look at Jon's German position, that we started to excavate last year.

We welcome Geomatrix as the first Corporate Sponsor of the Plugstreet Project and welcome their contribution to our on-going research into both the battlefield itself and into the use of geophysics on this sort of site.

We hope to be able to post results of the survey soon, so you can see their amazing kit in action.

Back Into The Line

On Friday a small party of us will be going out to Belgium.

Last year during ploughing the tenant discovered the remains of a British concrete bunker. Unsurprisingly he wasn't happy about a bent plough and a load of rubble in the potato field so plans to remove it. Fortunately the landowner told us that this will happen and has given us the opportunity to undertake rescue recording of the bunker and do a limited amount of excavation around it in the British Line.

Previously we have never had opportunity to look at the British trenches so this is both exciting and very useful for our research into the development of the battlefield.

As usual we will be staying with our friends at the Peace Village in Messines and enjoying the excellent food of Claude at The Auberge at Plugstreet -

We hope to be updating the blog during our stay.