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Department of Social Anthropology

 

Plugstreet Project

An ongoing project of excavation and heritage valorisation of a segment of the Great War battlefield in the area of Plugstreet ProjectPloegsteert/Plugstreet (Messines Ridge, Belgium) involving an international team of professional and amateur archaeologists and members of the local community in the Wallonie region of Belgium, that was part of the Western Front battlefield during the First World War (1914-’18). The primary aim of the project is to document archaeologically the military operations in this sector of the Western Front, but it also has an ethnographic aspect, aimed at studying the local civilian historical memory of the conflict and post-conflict reconstruction and local, visitor and archaeologists’ perceptions of the material heritage of conflict in the current landscape.

The project is run on a non-profit volunteer basis and is largely self-funded; it is led by No Man’s Land – European Group for Great War Archaeology (http://www.plugstreet-archaeology.com/No-Mans-Land.php); and sponsored by the Comines-Warneton Historical Society in liaison with the Belgian Archaeological Service and the Wallonie regional authorities. One outcome of the project in the local area has been the creation of an interpretation centre exhibiting many of the excavation finds (http://walloniabelgiumtourism.co.uk/en-gb/content/plugstreet-14-18-experience). For more information see the Plugstreet Archaeological Project; and M. Brown and R. Osgood Digging Up Plugstreet. The archaeology of a Great War battlefield. Haynes Publishing, Yeovil, 2009

 

Photo: The family of Private Alan Mather (missing in action in 1917) pay their respects at his burial with military honours in August 2010. Also present at the burial are some of the Plugstreet Project archaeologists who retrieved his remains. The project documented ethnographically the family’s narratives about the retrieval and burial and the profound impact that this had on their own history and identity.

 


Dr Paola  Filippucci
Affiliated Lecturer
Fellow and College Lecturer, Murray Edwards College