Archaeology brings students and staff together with injured military personnel

Posted by ap507 at May 13, 2014 10:35 AM |
Archaeological programme run through Operation Nightingale can help in the recovery of service personnel
Archaeology brings students and staff together with injured military personnel

University of Leicester Student Hannah Williams and Scottish veteran Tom McBride learning how to create an archaeological plan drawing at Whitewall Brake.

Professor Simon James and students from the University’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History have been digging alongside soldiers and veterans together with archaeologists from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and the voluntary Defence Archaeology Group (DAG), as part of Operation Nightingale. The University is in partnership with the Operation Nightingale programme, which supports the recovery of military personnel and veterans who have been injured in service – whether in training or on operations– through occupational archaeological activity.

Op Nightingale assists the injured in their return to their duties, or in their transition back to civilian careers. Participation enables Archaeology and Ancient History students of the University to work alongside experienced members of the Forces, helping both to develop new skills.

This year, the Leicester archaeological team again took part in a continuing Op Nightingale excavation at Whitehall Brake Roman Building complex within Caerwent Training Area in South Wales.

The soldiers and veterans who joined in the project have suffered a broad spectrum of injuries, including physical and psychological trauma. Participation in an archaeological project offers a range of occupational activities, from digging to surveying and photography to finds processing, which in combination with the social aspect of a mixed civil-military team working, living and playing together, helps promote healing. Op Nightingale is valuable for rebuilding self-esteem and helping the injured rediscover a sense of purpose.

Not only does the programme benefit individuals taking part, but it also has great historical value. The stone buildings at Whitewall Brake seem to have been an important place on the skyline of the Roman city of Venta Silurum (Caerwent). Their exact purpose remains enigmatic, and finding out what it was remains the objective for future Op Nightingale digs at the site, in which more Leicester students will participate.

Operation Nightingale has won a British Archaeological Award, recognising its creative use of archaeological work to boost the recovery and prospects of injured military personnel.