Operation Nightingale/Project Florence

Barrow Clump 2013: Phil’s Round-up week 3

1223 Early Bronze Age barrow ditch and Saxon graves

Phil Andrews, Site Director for Barrow Clump, reports on the unusual photographic opportunities we had this year:
The site as we’ve never seen it before!
"During the final week of the 2013 season we had two valuable opportunities get an excellent set of photos of Barrow Clump from above. Firstly, Sean kindly provided his ‘cherry-picker’ for the day, which enabled us to take a variety of overhead shots of the ongoing excavation. Secondly, Briony and her friend Pete went up in his vintage Chipmunk plane to take some aerial shots of the Clump and the surrounding landscape on Salisbury Plain.
These opportunities came at a good time with the excavation nearing completion. The photographs fully enabled us to appreciate the large size of the Early Bronze Age barrow and gave us a new perspective of the numerous Anglo-Saxon graves dug into it. From the Chipmunk, we got a splendid picture of not only Barrow Clump, but also some of the many ploughed out barrows surrounding it – the ring-ditches somewhat surprisingly showing up as parch marks (rather than more lush green grass) in the hot, dry weather."
1221 View of Barrow Clump from the Chipmunk, with parch marks of ring-ditches visible at the top and right

Barrow Clump 2013: Phil’s Round-up Week 2

1196 Excavation of one of the Saxon graves

2013 has been an exciting year up at Barrow Clump. Site Director, Phil Andrews sums up the latest discoveries for the blog:
Summer digging at last!
"Well July went far too quickly, with the summer heatwave coinciding almost exactly with our stay on site. Excellent weather for camping, while the trees gave us welcome shelter from the sun – they were protection from the drizzle last year!
Our final Anglo-Saxon grave count was 22, a few more than I had anticipated, with a variety of grave goods. Although not as spectacular as last year the finds included two shield bosses, two spearheads and several knives as well as a pair of saucer brooches, three finger rings, tweezers and numerous glass and amber beads.
Archaeologically the most exciting discoveries were of prehistoric date. A large Neolithic pit containing deer antlers, a hammerstone, pieces of sarsen and struck flint was uncovered while a rare and beautiful section was exposed showing the Neolithic land surface, the ‘Beaker’ mound and ditch, and the overlying turf core of the Early Bronze Age barrow."
Next week, the site from above as we’ve never seen it before.
1198 Dave Murdie admires his lovely section

Barrow Clump Open Day 2013

Local residents gathered on Salisbury Plain last week for the Barrow Clump open day 2013. 
As the second phase of Operation Nightingale excavations at the Bronze Age burial mound and Saxon cemetery drew to a close, members of the public were invited onto the site. Visitors had the chance to tour the trenches, witness ongoing excavation and view this year’s artefacts which included Saxon weaponry, jewellery and even a pair of tweezers. 
Phil Harding’s flint-knapping demonstrations proved popular, as did Wiltshire Museum’s excellent collection of Saxon replicas. Young visitors were entertained by hands-on activities, including clay pot making and mini dig sandpits. 
With over 360 visitors and £300 raised for Operation Nightingale and Care 4 Casualties, the day was a huge success! 


Wessex Archaeology staff, Op Nightingale soldiers and many volunteers worked together to deliver this event. Funding was kindly provided by Wiltshire Council.

Barrow Clump Open Day


Discover amazing archaeology and spectacular artefacts at Barrow Clump on Salisbury Plain. Visit a Bronze Age burial mound and Saxon cemetery being excavated by injured soldiers and Wessex Archaeology as part of Operation Nightingale.
Saturday 20th July 2013 10am-4pm
Free entry, all ages welcome.
  • Experience a real archaeological dig site
  • Witness the discovery of Saxon burials
  • Meet archaeologists and learn about our work
  • View some fascinating artefacts from the excavation
  • Handle replica Saxon artefacts from Wiltshire Museum
  • Get hands on in our ‘mini digs’
  • Make and decorate your own clay pot
  • Meet Channel 4’s Time Team favourite Phil Harding
How to find us:
Drive north on the A345 from the Amesbury junction of the A303, crossing one roundabout. Turn right at the ‘C’ tank crossing and follow signs to the parking area. Please note that the site is a 15-minute walk from the parking area.
Limited spaces are available at the site for those with walking difficulties.
For more information contact Laura Joyner on 01722 326867 or email Laura

Barrow Clump 2013: Phil's Round-up Week One

Following on from the fantastic success of the Operation Nightingale excavation at Barrow Clump last summer, the soldiers have returned for a second year. The 2013 excavations will explore new areas of this Bronze Age burial mound and aim to identify the extent of the Saxon cemetery.
Site Director, Phil Andrews has agreed to produce his popular weekly round-ups for the blog again this year, starting with week one below:
Here we go again!
A year passes very quickly and we started again at Barrow Clump last week, this time for five weeks until the end of July. Site camp was established, nettles cleared and trees trimmed, whilst the badgers appear to have temporarily vacated the site.
Within a couple of days, and with the aid of a mechanical excavator, five new areas were open and ready for excavation; four in the southern part of the Early Bronze Age barrow to complete investigations in this area and one trench to the north-west in an area not previously investigated.
By the end of the week 14 Anglo-Saxon graves had been identified in the southern areas, whilst well-preserved Bronze Age and earlier deposits survive to the north-west. Excavations are now well underway in all areas with around 25 people taking part - soldiers, ex-soldiers and a whole range of other enthusiastic volunteers. In contrast to last year the weather has been excellent, and we look forward exciting discoveries in the next couple of weeks.


Find out more about Operation Nightingale by clicking here.

Bringing the Tudors to Bulford

1021 Analysing artefacts

The May meeting of the Playing with the Past club was all about the Tudors.
We analysed artefacts, made our own sweet-smelling pomanders and sniffed out some of the foods and spices traded by the Tudor explorers.
This FREE club will be held each month at the Beeches Community Centre in Bulford. Meetings will cover a range of interesting archaeological topics and periods and feature hands-on activities and games.
To find out more about the Playing with the Past club and details of the next meeting click here.

1020 Learning about exploration and trade in the Tudor period

Learn by Doing: Work Placements at Wessex Archaeology

Wessex Archaeology continues to support Operation Nightingale by offering two keen soldiers work placements. Angus Forshaw, Community Archaeology Trainee with WA, wrote about these work placements for the blog:

1000 Steve sieving environmental samples"Following on from the success of last summer’s excavation at Barrow Clump, two soldiers, Steve and Kenny, have been doing work placements at Wessex Archaeology’s Salisbury office.

Steve has been working with the environmental archaeology team. He has been busy sieving and sorting soil samples. These samples have been collected during excavations on site and can reveal a number of things, including small artefacts that may have been missed on site as well as any surviving environmental material, which could tell us more about the environment of the past.

While Steve has been working on the post-excavation side of things, Kenny has been out in the field with the excavation team. He has worked on a variety of sites and been able to excavate a number of exciting features. With a lot of this fieldwork being over the winter, it has given him a real taste of what being a field archaeologist can be like!"

Since Angus’s blog was written, Steve has completed his discharge from the army and been hired as a member of the environmental team at WA. His natural abilities and enthusiasm, as well as the skills he acquired during his work placement, have made Steve a valuable asset to the organisation and we welcome him on board.
Find out more about our work with Op Nightingale on the Project Florence webpages and on the blog.

Young Archaeologists Build Neolithic Houses

This April, the Playing with the Past club took part in the Neolithic Houses Building Project at Old Sarum. Led by English Heritage and the Ancient Technology Centre (ATC), the workshop gave the young archaeologists and their parents the chance to get involved in some fantastic experimental archaeology.

The morning started with a tour of the houses by Luke Winter from the ATC. Luke explained that the houses are based on archaeological evidence found during excavations at Durrington Walls.

949 Luke demonstrates how to safely use an axe to chop wood

We were able to get involved in several parts of the building process, including weaving hazel branches to form wattle walls and mixing crushed chalk with straw and water to produce daub. We also experimented with flint and bronze axe-heads to see which material was most effective at chopping through a log.

948 Playing with the Past members adding daub to the walls of a Neolithic house

We finished the morning with a delicious bowl of soup as we surveyed our handiwork.

This FREE club will be held on the third Saturday of each month at the Beeches Community Centre in Bulford. Meetings will cover a range of interesting archaeological topics and periods and feature hands-on activities and games.

To find out more about the Playing with the Past club and details of the next meeting click here.

To find out more about the Neolithic Houses Building Project click here.

To return to the main Project Florence blog click here.

Time Warriors at Wiltshire Museum

This April, visit the Project Florence exhibition and Barrow Clump artefacts at Wiltshire Museum.
This temporary exhibition provides a unique opportunity to see our Time Warriors DVD, the Saxon tapestry designed by local volunteers and school children and several of the exciting Barrow Clump artefacts.

900 The Project Florence Exhibition Opening at Wiltshire Museum

The display features beautiful pieces of Saxon jewellery, the remains of fearsome weaponry and an early Bronze Age archer’s wristguard. The star of the exhibition is of course the rare Saxon ‘bucket’.

902 The Saxon drinking bucket from Barrow Clump

The exhibition is open until 28th April 2013. Find out more by clicking here.


Invaders and Settlers: The Saxons

The Playing with the Past club met in March to learn about the Saxons.

891 Eggs-cavating Eggs!

The young enthusiasts solved riddles, got hands on with Saxon artefacts and discovered how delicate archaeology can be by excavating eggs from cups of compost!

890 Making Saxon friendship bracelets

This FREE club will be held on the third Saturday of each month at the Beeches Community Centre in Bulford. Meetings will cover a range of interesting archaeological topics and periods and feature hands-on activities and games.

To find out more about the Playing with the Past club and details of the next meeting click here.

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