In 1998 the Association for Battlefield Archaeology in Flanders (ABAF) was asked to do a profound research about the site, resulting in an academic book (unfortunately only available in Dutch). After five years fundraising, planning, changing of owner, official problems etc. the restoration of the site finally started in august this year. The project is funded by the European Community, the Flemish Government, the Province of West-Flanders, the Community of Heuvelland and the private owner. All historical, archaeological and most of the technical works are done by ABAF or under its direction. The project is supported by the Historical Section of the Belgian Military Academy and the German Embassy in Brussels.
We started with a complete archaeological excavation of the site, which was very difficult due to the many heavy tree trunks and a bad preservation of the trench structures. This is because of a various water table and loam instead of claygrounds, added by profound battlefield cleaning in the 1920's. In this way we discovered a system with A-frames, very similar to the British ones as we know from Boesinghe and other places. We also found traces of the typical German construction with willow pieces. In many corners interesting objects were discovered, but unfortunately mostly bad preserved.
As you have seen on photographs the restoration is done completely in wood with about 300.000 (!) willow-pieces between the frames, just to make it exact look like the original. The restoration with wood is explicitly chosen instead of the longer lasting concrete sandbags like on many other places at the Western front, but which are in no way authentic.
The restoration project will have about 300 metres of trenches on a total surface of about 10 % of the original Bayernwald. But the system is complete in its depth and contains a perfect view of how a German trench system was built. It also includes the restoration of four German bunkers, a concrete mortar post and the famous mineshaft, which we have examined at a depth of 17 metres.
The works will be finished by the end of the year and the site will definitely be open in Spring 2004. The site will be closed off and the Community of Heuvelland will work with a reservation system through their tourist information centre in Kemmel, this to avoid vandalism, children playing etc.
After restoration Bayernwald will definitely be one of the most unique German war relics on the Western front.
(Source: Franky Bostyn - Association for Battlefield Archaeology in Flanders)