Award-winning soldiers’ recovery project continues to break new ground

Saxon Burial with Award in forefront from the British Archaeology Awards

An award-winning project using archaeology to aid the recovery of solders from The Rifles injured on Operation Herrick continues its success on Salisbury Plain.

‘Operation Nightingale’ has this week received a special award from the British Archaeological Awards in recognition of its innovative use of archaeological work to boost the recovery and career prospects of military personnel injured in Afghanistan.

1Rifles soldier exhuming a Saxon Burial

This unique, and hugely successful, programme continues with investigations into the Bronze Age and Anglo-Saxon deposits at Barrow Clump. Soldiers are excavating material, including Saxon grave goods, moved by badgers that have constructed their setts on the prehistoric monument.

The solders have helped uncover the remains of a sixth century Anglo-Saxon female. ‘Davina’, as they have named the woman is believed to have died in her late teens to early 20s. She appears to have been a person of note, as she was buried in what would have been a prestigious burial site. They have also found the remains of an Anglo-Saxon male, buried with a bronze shield.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) worked with the Rifles to create the Rifles to create this opportunity for the soldiers to learn a series of excavation, land survey, drawing and mapping techniques and also enhancing their publication and presentation skills. Eight soldiers are moving on to study archaeology at Leicester University, thanks to the programme.

Co-directed by Richard Osgood, of DIO and Sgt Diarmaid Walshe, of 1 Rifles (Also regular HeritageDaily contributor), the project draws in assistance from partners including English Heritage, Wessex Archaeology and the Army’s survey unit, 135 Geographical Squadron, to help deliver the programme.

Richard Osgood, DIO’s Senior Historic Advisor, said:

“DIO’s priority is to support our Armed Forces. There are long standing connections between the profession of archaeology and the military.”

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