Operation Nightingale is an initiative to help rehabilitate injured soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan by getting them involved in archaeological investigations.
Operation Nightingale was developed to utilise both the technical and social aspects of field archaeology to help in the recovery and skill development of soldiers injured in the conflict in Afghanistan. There is a close correlation between the skills required by the modern soldier and those of the professional archaeologist. These skills include surveying, geophysics (for ordnance recovery or revealing cultural heritage sites), scrutiny of the ground (for improvised explosive devices or artefacts), site and team management, mapping, navigation and the physical ability to cope with hard manual work in often inclement weather conditions.
You can read more about Op Nightingale at the Defence Archaeology Group by clicking the external links.
In 2012 Operation Nightingale and Wessex Archaeology will start to excavate the 4000-year-old Bronze Age Barrow Clump site on Salisbury Plain Training Area. The multi-period site also has evidence for earlier Neolithic occupation and later Anglo-Saxon burials.
This scheduled site is of national importance. Unfortunately the barrow is on the English Heritage ‘Heritage at Risk’ (HAR) list. It is in poor and declining condition threatened by continued and extensive burrowing by badgers. English Heritage has recently advised full excavation of the site as it can no longer be preserved in situ.
Our aim is to excavate the barrow over three years. The first year will focus on excavating the later Anglo-Saxon burials.
Natural England will supervise the excavation to ensure the continued welfare of the badgers.
The Squadron’s involvement
135 Geo Sqn RE supports Operation Nightingale by supplying survey teams with senior management to set major and minor control points for fixing the excavation and the artefacts found therein. This was so that the archaeological team could remove the artefacts and fill in the trenches once the work was complete knowing that the position, orientation and angles had been dutifully recorded for future reference and analysis.