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Anglo-Saxon burial ground uncovered by archaeologists and military veterans

This summer archaeologists teamed up with volunteers and a group of injured military veterans to excavate a portion of Barrow Clump on Salisbury Plain, an archaeological site in southwestern England. They uncovered a burial ground dating to the 6th century AD.

The site, which is currently a military training site, has a history dating back to the Early Bronze Age. Since digging began last year, over 80 burials have been discovered, as well as the remains of jewellery, decorated pottery and weapons.

Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) archaeologists, Wessex Archaeology and local volunteers all took part in the archaeological research. They were joined by volunteers from the Operation Nightingale programme which uses archaeology to aid in the recovery of soldiers who are sick, wounded or were injured on operations in Afghanistan.

Military veterans working on the dig are supported by Breaking Ground Heritage, a charity assisting veterans to learn more about archaeology and heritage with the aim of helping them to learn new skills as part of their recovery. Several are now studying the subject at University with others working as professionals in this area.

Richard Osgood, Senior Archaeologist from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation said, “I’m amazed at the artefacts that have been uncovered from our previous excavations and without the help of injured, sick and wounded soldiers and local volunteers we wouldn’t have uncovered the Anglo-Saxon burial. I look forward to uncovering the track and its findings.”

Skull excavated at Barrow Clump in Salisbury Plain. Photo: Crown Copyright 2018

Operation Nightingale was first established in 2011. Richard Bennett, Project Director at Breaking Ground Heritage, added “We work closely with DIO to provide injured soldiers and veterans with the placements they need to take part in archaeological investigations on the Ministry of Defence estate.

“The project has helped to improve the welfare of all those involved. Thank you to everyone who has took part in this project, they have all been valuable to the programme’s results.”

The data derived from this excavation will be used to inform the careful heritage management of Salisbury Plain. The discoveries unearthed during this excavation will be laid to rest in the Wiltshire Devizies Museum, along with a monograph on the fieldwork at the end of 2018.

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