Brocton WWI model battlefield excavation to begin

image captionThe battlefield model was built by German prisoners of war on Cannock Chase

An archaeological dig is to take place to uncover a model of a World War I battlefield in Staffordshire which was built as a training aid for soldiers.

The mock up of the village and surrounding area of Messines in Belgium was built in Brocton on Cannock Chase.

It was also maintained as a memorial to soldiers who died in the Battle of Messines Ridge in June 1917.

Staffordshire County Council said after WWI it became a tourist attraction before becoming deserted and overgrown.

The model was built by German prisoners of war, supervised by troops from the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, on their return from Messines in 1917.

'Fragile nature'

It was used as a training ground in the build-up to the much larger battle of Passchendaele which began in July of that year.

It included replica trenches and dugouts, railway lines, roads, and accurate contours of the surrounding terrain.

Staffordshire County Council said it would dig up the site this week and use a laser-scanning device to make a 3D computer model.

The site will be covered over again in October.

Council leader Philip Atkins said: "Due to the location, scale and fragile nature of the model it is impossible for it to be moved or left uncovered.

"For a brief moment in time we all be able to share with the nation, memories of a piece of Staffordshire which helped change the course of history."

The project is being funded by Natural England.

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