80 kilometre archaeological site in West Flanders

80 kilometre archaeological site in West Flanders
Credit: Belga / Benoit Doppagne

One of the largest archaeological sites ever in Flanders has been created as a result of maintenance work to a natural gas pipeline between Alveringem and Maldegem. After thorough investigations, archaeologists are opening the site to the general public.

More than 200 new archaeological sites were established on the 80-kilometre stretch. The research not only yielded many discoveries from the Stone Ages to the First and Second World Wars, it also gave new insight into thousands of years of human habitation in West Flanders.

"Archaeologists were able to dig in still unexplored, rural areas. A gas pipeline like this doesn't go through residential areas where several excavations have often already taken place," says Wouter Gheyle, project coordinator for the province of West Flanders.

"A large part of the route cuts through the front line from the Great War. We unearthed a lot of artefacts but also had to take into account undetonated explosives that had to be removed or dismantled piece by piece. More than anything, the sheer scale of the archaeological site meant we had a lot of work to do."

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Gheyle stated that the traces of thousands of years of civilisation in the Belgian landscape provide new insight into the deep history of the area. The expert expressed his excitement to display the findings to the public. A travelling exhibition will move down the entire pipeline in various locations in West Flanders.

"We are happy to share the objects now for the first time so that people know the rich history of where they live," concluded Gheyle.

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