Two weeks ago I began on a project called Operation Nightingale.
This is the short description of the project from their website:
“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.”
So far it has been an eye opening project, at times inspirational, at times difficult, but never boring nor unworthy.
A couple of shots of the team including our two veterans Fred & Steve, taking shelter in a 9×9 army tent, out of the rain and chewing the fat over a good brew.
Working hard to clean off the Barrow in Trench 2, through the wind and rain and by jove was it worth it!
And as with every archaeological project it cannot be all work and no play, so on the first Wednesday night of the project the Major (the important looking chap in regalia + medals) organised a formal dinner for us all in the Officers Mess and what a night it was!
We’ve also had a few day trips out, including a visit to the Colsterdale WW1 training camp which is currently being surveyed and excavated by York University.
Here is a shot of trenches dug by the Leeds Pals soldiers in training. We ate ration packs and surveyed in the trenches old school style, with taps and no GPS!
A day out to Locomotion: The National Rail Museum in Shildon, where visitors could ride on the mini train and play in the sandpit… of course we did!
And this was finished off with a trip to and a tour around Binchester. The student excavations by Durham University have just finished their 7th and final season on the site.