Virtual Tour of the Excavation at DigHill80

DigHill80 was an archaeological project funded in large part by you, the viewers of Forgotten Weapons. Hill 80 was a German fortified position in World War One outside the Belgian town of Wijtschate. In 2015 and exploratory excavation prior to construction on the site discovered remarkably extensive and well preserved trenches. Belgian law required a minimum level of historical investigation, but the archaeologists on the site felt the site deserved a much more extensive excavation, and they set up a KickStarter to fund it.

You responded, and the dig was fully funded. It began this spring, and has just now concluded – the time frame was short because of the construction that is scheduled to begin on the site. This is not a place that can become a permanent site; it was an effort to find and record as much as possible in the brief window allowed. In addition to a multitude of artifacts found, more than 100 soldiers were recovered from the site, now able to be given proper burial in their respective national cemeteries. German, French, and British men all fought and died in these trenches.

I was hoping to be able to visit the site while the dig was underway, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to. However, thanks to Simon Verdegem (the lead archaeologist) we have a virtual tour here of the site on its final day. Thanks, Simon!

The overall findings from the dig are going to be presented in London on November 12th, and I will be attending that event. If you are interested in joining me, you can find full details and purchase tickets here:



  1. Thanks Ian for putting me on to this.
    I’ve been a patreon supporter for a year or so and really enjoy your site.
    After your call, I helped with a donation and then I spent a week on the site in June, a truly wonderful experience. The archaeology is not just about treasure hunting and I learnt a lot about trench structure. The treasure hunting was fun and I was lucky enough to find a Maxim MG08 water reservoir. This caused some excitement as we hoped then to find the gun!
    Anyhow, all was sobered by the bodies in the mass graves where I witnessed the effects of .303 and similar rounds.
    Looking forward to meeting you at the London presentation in November. Keep up the grand work on your site.
    Cheers, DAve.

  2. I approached this posting with interest, but I have to say that I am disappointed in the posting. This work may not be pure and simple “treasured hunting,” Careful modern assessment of “the missing” is important. But as presented here, I think we know NOTHING more or new as a results of this excavation. It certainly seems rapid and coarse. There is no hurry. Let’s frame questions that we can answer with new information and new insights.

  3. As i wrote once, instead of FW we will end up organizing excursions …Hopefully, with a donation in a museum we could have a look on real rare guns. The number of comments ,- i think-, confirms my point of view.Very few are interested all over the net!

    • “number of comments ,- i think-, confirms my point of view.”
      I do not agree. I would say number of viewers would be better indicator for that.
      Sometimes you just watch or read something, but do not have need to comment.
      In fact, more I think about this, more sad-turning I found this, at least for following reasons:
      – Found soldiers might remain just unknown French soldier or unknown Belgian soldier without name. It is impossible to turn dead into alive, but if identified they could be, at least partly, recovered from oblivion.
      – World War I was lose for all European belligerents demographic-wise, that is just compare number of citizen of any country in 1910 and 1920.
      – I doubt that fallen soldier would be content that despite their sacrifice, in war to end all wars their sons/nephew/so on would 20-some years later participate in similar slaughter called Second World War, in which Belgium would be occupied, France would be occupied and Germany will lose even harder than in Great War.

  4. The Dig Hill 80 project does not stop with the final excavation on the site. Work on the data and artefacts will continue and a summary presentation will be given in London late November this year.
    The site dig was always limited to 60 days as the owners and contractors want to get on with the house building project.

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