A Day with Operation Nightingale

My name is Angus Forshaw and I am the Community Archaeologist Trainee at Wessex Archaeology.  This years ‘Day of Archaeology’ found me out on site, excavating a Bronze Age Barrow and Anglo-Saxon cemetery on Salisbury Plain.  I was working alongside soldiers from the Rifles regiments who are excavating the site over six weeks as part of ‘Operation Nightingale’.

Site Briefing, I am the one holding the site map © Wessex Archaeology

Operation Nightingale is a pilot project established by Sergeant Diarmaid Walshe of the 1st Battalion The Rifles and Richard Osgood, Senior Historic Advisor of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). The project aims to meet a demand amongst wounded soldiers for viable rehabilitation programmes, in this case utilising heritage primarily through learning field archaeology skills. You can find out more at www.opnightingale.co.uk.

Wessex Archaeology has worked with Operation Nightingale on several projects this year and the current excavations are just the next part of a this successful and innovative project.

Having camped overnight with the soldiers my day started with a good fried breakfast, along with discussions on how Roman pottery found the previous day had found its way into our ditch fill.  We were soon out on site, continuing with our areas of excavation.  Trench Two saw the lion’s share of work with a number of Anglo-Saxon Skeletons being uncovered and excavated.  Along with those already in progress today saw the discovery of two more grave cuts taking the total graves found to seven.  The lifting of one of these provided us with our first grave goods with three amber beads found much to the excitement of everyone on site.

Excavating a skeleton © Wessex Archaeology

Over in Trench One we continued digging into the barrow ditch where graves were found in Trench Two.   Unfortunately, all to be found so far has been a maze of badger burrows, but who knows what we may find in the coming weeks.

So that’s the goings on up on site on the ‘Day of Archaeology’.  An exciting end to week two of excavations. You can find out more about what is happening on site by reading the blog www.florence.opnightingale.co.uk/blog.