About Us – Hill 80
about project whitesheet
A crowd-funded rescue excavation of a threatened First World battlefield

We are an international team of archaeologists and historians planning a crowd-funded rescue excavation to save a unique, well-preserved part of the Western Front being lost forever. With the site under threat our project will uncover the battlefield and reveal its secrets. Carried out to the highest scientific standards, the battlefield will be recorded in intricate detail and its artefacts saved, increasing our understanding of the trench war, a fitting remembrance of the men of both sides who fought there.

We are actively looking for sponsors and individual donors to help us in our aim. If you want to get involved, contact our lead archaeologist Simon Verdegem at hill80@rubenwillaert.be and follow Project Whitesheet @hill80arch or click on our crowdfunding link at Kickstarter.

In 2015 a team of archaeologists discovered the well- preserved German strongpoint near the village of Wijtschate (also known as Wytschaete – or ‘Whitesheet’ to the British). What the archaeologists had stumbled upon was unique; a piece of the formidable trench fortress that had remained virtually untouched since that the end of the war. Farm buildings had been incorporated into the defensive trench system to create an almost impregnable redoubt that was only taken in June 1917, in the Battle of Messines. But when the guns fell silent, the battlefront was forgotten, covered with earth and turf that preserved it intact.

The archaeologists closed their test trenches to preserve what they’d found. Since then the site has remained silent, untouched, covered and carefully preserved – waiting for the scientific excavation that would unlock its secrets. Under threat from development, now is the time to reveal secrets that have remained hidden for a hundred years.

people behind the project
Simon Verdegem
Simon Verdegem
Head Archaeologist
Robin Schäfer
Robin Schäfer
Military Historian
Peter Doyle
Peter Doyle
Military Historian