Operation Nightingale

Lights, Camera, Action!

My Day of Archaeology 2012 has been an exciting one, as my volunteers arrived on site for the first time, not to dig, but to make a movie.

I am the lucky archaeologist leading Project Florence, a community project aiming to get local residents involved in spreading the word about an exciting army excavation taking place on Salisbury Plain. This excavation is part of Operation Nightingale, a rehabilitation programme for wounded soldiers.

One of our key aims for the project is for volunteers to produce a DVD about the excavation as a record of the dig and to provide a legacy for Operation Nightingale. The volunteers, aged between 14 and 25, are being trained by professional film-makers to plan, film and edit the movie, which will be premiered at the Salisbury Arts Centre (SAC) in November.

Today was the first day of filming on site, following training sessions at SAC last week, and we were all eager to start catching the action. As I have no experience of movie-production, I am making the most of the chance to learn some new skills along with my volunteers. We are all working towards an Arts Award certificate.

We started our after-school training session with the basics, running over the things we learnt last week like how to frame the shot and how to find the best angle. Our ever-patient instructors, Jamie and Simon, explained that we need to take a mixture of interviews and ‘pretty pictures’ to stick together in the edit. So, we set about filming wide shots of trench activity, interviews with the archaeologists and soldiers, and close ups of interesting finds, so far including an Anglo-Saxon brooch and some amber beads. Our highlight of the day was getting to film one of the soldiers, Al, and his son Ben, lifting the most complete skeleton on site so far.

At the end of a busy two hours, I asked the group what they thought of the session:

“I found the archaeology interesting and liked learning about excavation and watching the skeleton being lifted.” Matt, 17

“I really enjoyed learning to use the sound equipment today, especially the boom. I can’t wait to put all our shots together to make the DVD!” Jess, 15

To find out more about both Project Florence and Operation Nightingale check out our blog – click here

Laura Joyner

Project Florence Officer

Wessex Archaeology