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$99,596
pledged of $164,807 goal
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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

By Simon Verdegem
$99,596
pledged of $164,807 goal
backers

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

About

Dan Snow, campaign patron. Pledge €50 or more to see Dan Snow at our launch event in 2018.
Dan Snow, campaign patron. Pledge €50 or more to see Dan Snow at our launch event in 2018.
  • Preserve the unique archaeology of a First World War battlefield
  • Dig with a professional team of archaeologists
  • Restore dignity to the missing soldiers of Wijtschate

Hello! My name is Simon Verdegem. In 2015 I was part of a team of archaeologists that discovered an extraordinarily well preserved trench fortress near the village of Wijtschate in Belgium. Together with Peter Doyle, a leading military historian from the UK and Robin Schäfer an expert of the German army of both world wars, we need your help.

Hundreds of casualties were suffered in the first of weeks of November 1914, most of which have no known grave. They still lie in the fields and gardens in and around Wijtschaete. With your help we might be able to give some of them an identity and a proper burial.

With your support, we plan to excavate the site and expose the battlefield in order to increase our understanding of the trench war, and of the men who fought there - before the site is lost to housing development.

Al Murray, campaign patron. Pledge €50 or more to see Al Murray at our launch event in 2018.
Al Murray, campaign patron. Pledge €50 or more to see Al Murray at our launch event in 2018.

Background 

In 2015 a team of archaeologists discovered a well-preserved German strongpoint at a ridge top known as 'Hill 80' near the village of Wijtschate or ‘Whitesheet’.

What they had stumbled upon was unique; a piece of the formidable trench fortress that had remained virtually untouched since 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.

When the guns fell silent, the battlefront was forgotten, covered with the earth and that preserved it intact. As they dug, the archaeologists were amazed to find well-preserved and very deep German trenches. Poignantly, they encountered the remains of soldiers were also found as they fell, both British and German, testimony to the ferocity of the fighting here.

In 2015 a team of archaeologists discovered a well-preserved German strongpoint at a ridge top known as 'Hill 80' near the village of Wijtschate or ‘Whitesheet’.

What they had stumbled upon was unique; a piece of the formidable trench fortress that had remained virtually untouched since 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.

When the guns fell silent, the battlefront was forgotten, covered with the earth and that preserved it intact. As they dug, the archaeologists were amazed to find well-preserved and very deep German trenches. Poignantly, they encountered the remains of soldiers were also found as they fell, both British and German, testimony to the ferocity of the fighting here.

Supporters

 

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Why We Need Your Help

The archaeologists closed their test trenches to preserve what they’d found in the belief that a full-scale excavation was a certainty. Unfortunatey, the estimated cost of the excavation escalated and all plans were frozen. Since then the site has remained silent, untouched, covered and carefully preserved – waiting for the scientific excavation that would unlock its secrets.

Sadly, this unique battlefield remains a prime target for housing and time is running out to save it.

Given the importance and unique character of this site, it requires a full-scale excavation. There should be no half measures. Without it, this unique historic resource remains under threat – as it is unlikely a commercial site investigation, which precedes a housing development, will uncover the depth of detail this site deserves.

How You Can Get Involved

An international team of experts has joined forces in an effort to make a properly funded and expertly managed scientific excavation happen. Given the importance and unique character of this site, it requires a full-scale excavation. There should be no half measures. Without it, this unique historic resource remains under threat – as it is unlikely that a commercial site investigation would uncover the depth of detail this site deserves.

Crowdfunding will provide an opportunity for everyone who wishes it, to take part in the excavation. In making a contribution, you will be given unique access to the team’s dedicated information sharing website. Other rewards, include organised visits to the site, exclusive livestreams, and opportunities to meet the team and see real archaeology in action.

Why We Need Your Help With Funding

An archaeological excavation of this size and intensity, carried out in depth and requiring the most advanced scientific methods, requires a significant level of funding support. The excavation will adhere to the highest possible standards, as well as ensuring that there will be the maximum possible public engagement.

Our target will deliver the following:

On-site Organisation € 15,000
Office portacabins to support team onsite
Storage containers for tools and finds 
Equipment to ensure the appropriate tools and apparatus are on siteSifting installation to ensure no small items are lost

Excavators € 30,000
Full-size Excavator for initial excavation
Dumpers to assist with removal
Mini excavator for detailed work

Explosive Ordnance Disposal € 45,000
UXO-expert - the guidance & support of experts

Physical Anthropology € 25,000
Exhuming human remains, a delicate and painstaking activity
Analysis of human remains and gathering relevant information and to assist identification

Post-processing € 40,000
Cleaning & conservation of artefacts making sure that archaeological material is preserved

Timeline

The excavation is scheduled to commence in April 2018.

 Meet the Team

 Partners

Rewards

We plan to be digging at the site from the mid April 2018 to mid July 2018 and you can join us there! All pledges over €25.00 entitle you to be part of our Virtual Dig Team.

Watch In Person Get a tour by one of the team members. Backers will get a historical introduction on the site and will be shown around the excavation. Visiting in a smaller group makes it possible to get to the very centre of the excavation and see the action up close.

Watch Online Live
As a backer you will be given privilieged early access to our findings and behind the scenes access to invite only livestreams. 

Our website will also become the place to be to follow the excavation and its results, with daily update,reports, pictures, movies, interviews and more.

Get Hands On 
Experience the thrill of being an archaeologist! We’ll provide the option to get dirty and become a team member (16+). After a short introduction and being equipped with you personal protective equipment and tools, backers that choose this option, can follow the squad leader into the field.

View the Results
We'll be presenting our detailed findings at 2 events both in London and Belgium in the first few weeks of November 2018. The shows will The London event will be hosted by Dan Snow. This is your opportunity to meet fellow backers and ask the Dig Hill 80 team questions about the excavation, its findings, and the wider implications on what we know about the history of the battlefield.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click here to view our FAQs

 

Risks and challenges

There is no risk involved. The is a 'all or nothing' campaign. If we don't reach our goal the dig simply won't go ahead and you will not be charged, there will be no excavation and what a tragedy that would be!

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

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    Wall of Fame

    Our appreciation for supporting the project.

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    Virtual Dig Team and Livestream Updates

    Join the team for a closed livestream tour of the site and regular behind the scenes access and video updates of breaking news of the finds we make.

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    Digital photo album of the excavation

    A digital photo album with 10 high-resolution pictures of the excavation by a professional photographer

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    London Event - Presentation of Findings

    Join the entire Dig Hill 80 team and some very special guests for a debrief of the excavation and detailed presentation of the findings. Artefacts, videos, and key information will all be shared. This is your opportunity to meet fellow backers and ask the Dig Hill 80 team questions about the excavation, its findings, and the wider implications on what we know about the history of the battlefield.
    Location TBC

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    Belgium Event - Presentation of Findings

    Join the entire Dig Hill 80 team and some very special guests for a debrief of the excavation and detailed presentation of the findings. Artefacts, videos, and key information will all be shared. This is your opportunity to meet fellow backers and ask the Dig Hill 80 team questions about the excavation, its findings, and the wider implications on what we know about the history of the battlefield.
    Location TBC

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    Team T-shirt

    A team T-shirt

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    *NEW* Digital Dig Team Swag Pack

    Brand new reward: Join our ultra cool Virtual Dig Team and also receive a limited edition Team Dig Hill 80 T-shirt along with a snazzy Dig Hill 80 bumper sticker. Also includes:

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    • 'I Backed Dig Hill 80' bumper sticker
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    Guided Tour

    A ticket for a guided tour on the excavation site. These tours (in group) will take place on a daily basis (Mon-Fri) at 10.00 GMT+1

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    Pair of Tickets to London Event

    Join the entire Dig Hill 80 team with Dan Snow and Al Murray for a debrief of the excavation and detailed presentation of the findings. Artefacts, videos, and key information will all be shared. This is your opportunity to meet fellow backers and ask the Dig Hill 80 team questions about the excavation, its findings, and the wider implications on what we know about the history of the battlefield.
    Location TBC

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    Pair of Tickets to Belgium Event

    Join the entire Dig Hill 80 team and some very special guests for a debrief of the excavation and detailed presentation of the findings. Artefacts, videos, and key information will all be shared. This is your opportunity to meet fellow backers and ask the Dig Hill 80 team questions about the excavation, its findings, and the wider implications on what we know about the history of the battlefield.
    Location TBC

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    Guided Tour for 2 People - SAVE 10%

    2 tickets for a guided tour of the excavation site. (worth: €190!)

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    VIP Tour

    A ticket for a guided tour on the excavation site. These private tours (max. 5 pers.) will be guided by one of the team members.

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    1 Day in the Field

    Become a team member (16 years and older) for 1 day and join us in the field.

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    VIP Guided Tour for 2 People - SAVE 10%

    2 tickets for a guided tour on the excavation site. These private tours (max. 5 pers.) will be guided by one of the team members.
    (worth €380.00!)

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    Guided Tour for 5 People - SAVE 10%

    5 tickets for a guided tour of the excavation site.(worth €475.00!)

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    2 Days in the Field

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    3 Days in the Field

    Become a team member (16 years and older) for 3 days and join us in the field.

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    VIP Guided Tour for 5 People - SAVE 10%

    5 tickets for a guided tour on the excavation site. These private tours will be guided by one of the team members.
    (worth €950.00!)

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    • Livestream Updates
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    1 Week (5 Days) in the Field

    Become a team member (16 years and older) for 1 week and join us in the field.

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    • Digital photo album
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    Ultimate VIP Tour with Dan Snow

    The ultimate and VIP tour. You'll join broadcaster and historian, Dan Snow and the entire Dig Hill 80 Team on the Battlefield and learn about the fascinating history of the site. Food and drink will also be provided and you will have the opportunity to get hands on and experience the thrill of being an archaeologist! 

    Includes:
    • A mentioning on the Wall of Fame on our website
    • Digital photo album
    • Livestream Updates
    • Team T-shirt
    • 10 x VIP Tickets to the 'Presentation of Findings' Event - London
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    Ultimate VIP Tour with Arnout Hauben

    The ultimate and VIP tour. You'll join broadcaster, Arnout Hauben and the entire Dig Hill 80 Team on the Battlefield and learn about the fascinating history of the site. Food and drink will also be provided and you will have the opportunity to get hands on and experience the thrill of being an archaeologist!

    Includes:
    • A mentioning on the Wall of Fame on our website
    • Digital photo album
    • Livestream Updates
    • Team T-shirt
    • 10 x VIP Tickets to the 'Presentation of Findings' Event - BE
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    Dig Hill 80 Official Partner Bronze

    You or your organisation will become an official partner of the project. You will receive privileged access to reports and finds made on the dig and receive regular email updates from the dig team. Your brand will also feature on our website alongside our other partners and your VIP tickets to our events will include complimentary drinks and nibbles.

    Includes:
    • A mentioning on the Wall of Fame on our website
    • Livestream Updates
    • Digital photo album
    • Team T-shirt
    • 10 x VIP Tickets to the 'Presentation of Findings' Event - London
    • OR 10 x VIP Tickets to the 'Presentation of Findings' Event - BE
    • VIP Guided Tour for 5 People
    • VIP Day in the Field for 5 People
    • Brand on website
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    Pledge €5,000 or more About $5,890

    Dig Hill 80 Official Partner Silver

    You or your organisation will become an official partner of the project. You will receive privileged access to reports and finds made on the dig and receive regular email updates from the dig team. Your brand will also feature on our website and on-site banners alongside our other partners and your VIP tickets to our events will include complimentary drinks and nibbles.

    Includes:
    • A mentioning on the Wall of Fame on our website
    • Livestream Updates
    • Digital photo album
    • Team T-shirt
    • 15 x VIP Tickets to the 'Presentation of Findings' Event - London
    • OR 15x VIP Tickets to the 'Presentation of Findings' Event - BE
    • VIP Guided Tour for 10 People
    • VIP Day in the Field for 10 People
    • Brand on website
    • Brand on banner at excavation site
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    Pledge €8,500 About $10,012

    Dig Hill 80 Official Partner Gold

    You or your organisation will become an official partner of the project. You will receive privileged access to reports and finds made on the dig and receive regular email updates from the dig team. Your brand will also feature on our website, on-site banners and future publications alongside our other partners and your VIP tickets to our events will include complimentary drinks and nibbles.

    Includes:
    • A mentioning on the Wall of Fame on our website
    • Digital photo album
    • Livestream Updates
    • Team T-shirt
    • 20 x VIP Tickets to the 'Presentation of Findings' Event - London
    • OR 20x VIP Tickets to the 'Presentation of Findings' Event - BE
    • VIP Guided Tour for 15 People
    • VIP Day in the Field for 15 People
    • Brand on website
    • Brand on banner at excavation site
    • Brand on future publications/presentations
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    Pledge €12 or more About $14

    *FLASH SALE! SAVE 50% Virtual Dig Team*

    Join the team for a closed livestream tour of the site and regular behind the scenes access and video updates of breaking news of the finds we make.

    Includes:
    • A mentioning on the Wall of Fame on our website
    • Livestream Updates
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