Hill 80 – Project Whitesheet 2018
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Project Whitesheet 2018

Crowdfunded excavation of a First World War Battlefield

In 2015, during test trenching, a team of archaeologists discovered a well-preserved German strongpoint at a ridge top near the village Of Wijtschate (also known as Wytschaete — or ‘Whitesheet’ to the British). Wijtschate had been captured by the Germans at the end of 1914, who went on to build into what became formidable fortress that would only be breached in 1917 during the Battle of Messines.

With a full-scale excavation almost certain, the archaeologists closed their test trenches to preserve what they’d found. That is why an international team of experts has joined forces in an effort to make this happen, a scientific excavation, executed by professional archaeologists and supported by universities, governments and others – financed by crowdfunding.

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DAN SNOW INTERVIEW WITH SIMON VERDEGEM

July 30th 2017, Langemark (Flanders, Belgium)

Dan Snow met our lead archaeologist Simon Verdegem on the eve of the commemorations of the Third Battle of Ypres to have a chat about archaeology of the First World War and the forthcoming Höhe 80 – Project Whitesheet 2018- a crowdfunded excavation of a First World War battlefield. Symbolically the meeting took place at Ruisseau Farm Cemetary, at the banks of the Steenbeek river where the advance of the Guards Division stopped in the evening of July 31st 1917.

It was also at this location, in this farmstead, that Ernst Jünger fought that same day, trying to hold back the advancing Guards. Events that he wrote down in his diary, known to us as In Stahlgewittern. In the fields surrounding the farm and cemetery Simon and his team found archaeological evidence of this battle. In the podcast Simon and Dan talk about these discoveries and about the plans Peter, Rob and Simon have with the excavation at Höhe 80.

Listen To Dan’s Podcast Interview With Simon Verdegem

From Our Patron Al Murray

“Project Whitesheet” is a fascinating new archaeological exploration of a German stronghold on the Messines Ridge. As we are more than halfway through the centenary of the First World War, it is poignant to see an international European effort to excavate a site where the men of both sides died. Speaking as someone British, it is always hugely interesting to look at the “other side of the hill”, and “Project Whitesheet” offers that opportunity: German fortifications were complex and renowned for their impregnability – now, a hundred years, we can examine why.

Get involved

Our International Project brings professionals, enthusiasts and devotees together in the mutual aim of protecting a significant Great War site, a genuinely lasting legacy of the legacy of the First World War Centenary.

Sponsoring private companies and public institutions have the opportunity to
be associated with this flagship excavation, to really make a difference, and to be part of something that is of fundamental importance. This exciting opportunity is likely to have a lasting legacy. In addition to sponsorship, crowdfunding will provide an opportunity for everyone who wishes to, to take part in the excavation. Other benefits, dependant on level of giving, might include organised visits to the site, and opportunities to meet the team and see real archaeology in action.

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