OVER 100 years of military history have now been mapped and preserved after a unique network of First World War training tunnels and trenches were uncovered at Larkhill.

In 1914 Salisbury Plain was one of the Army’s main training areas and the tunnels at Larkhill replicated the terrain and realities of trench warfare that soldiers would encounter on the battlefields of Europe.

In preparation for the building of 400 new Army family homes under the Army Basing programme, archaeologists worked alongside engineering specialists to investigate an underground First World War trench system, which represented the largest excavation of a First World War training system anywhere in the world.

The tunnels were mapped using laser technology that resulted in a comprehensive 3D presentation of the tunnel structures.

The mapping also provided a real life visualisation of the trench work providing ‘a window’ not only to the techniques used to construct them but also to lives of those who built them.

A wealth of prehistoric remains were also discovered at the site.

Martin Brown, principal archaeologist and conflict archaeology specialist at WYG, said: “Larkhill represents the largest single investigation of a First World War training site anywhere in the world and not only that, the discovery and recording of the tunnel systems revealed an aspect of training never seen before. We can see what those men went through here from the objects left in trenches, and how they learned the trade of soldiering.”

The ABP, WYG and Wessex Archaeology have been supported by a range of specialist contractors including Cundall.

Jim Allen, Partner and Head of Geotechnical Engineering at Cundall said: “It was a privilege and a pleasure for Cundall to be able to work on this incredibly challenging, interesting and evocative site to assist in rendering it a safe home for Services families while allowing due respect to be paid for those servicemen from the past who used this site for a very different purpose.”