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Sunday, 7 April 2013
University of Leicester staff and students take part in ground-breaking archaeology project with injured soldiers
Staff and students are taking part in a dig at Caerwent, Wales, as part of award-winning project Operation Nightingale
Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 4 April 2013
University of Leicester archaeologists are taking part in an award-winning project which uses archaeology to aid the recovery of injured soldiers.
Operation Nightingale - which has been recognised by the British Archaeological Awards for its innovation - has seen soldiers excavating the remains of a Roman building at Caerwent Training Area, near Newport.
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and Defence Archaeology Group worked with a number of units including The Rifles to create the unique and hugely successful programme, which gives injured Military Personnel the opportunity to learn a series of excavation, land survey, drawing and mapping techniques.
Professor Simon James, of the University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History, and a group of seven students from the School are helping with the dig.
The soldiers, who join the programme voluntarily, also produce a report of their findings which helps enhance their publication and presentation skills.
The majority of soldiers taking part are serving personnel, however there are also a number of injured veterans on the programme, including from the Falklands conflict. The participants have suffered a broad spectrum of injuries including physical and psychological trauma.
The excavation work has been taking place under the supervision of archaeologists from the DIO, Defence Archaeology Group and the University of Leicester, which are supporting the project.
Other partners including Cadw - the Welsh Government’s historic environment service - and the Army’s survey unit,135 Geographical Squadron are also helping to deliver the programme.
The excavation at Caerwent started on March 24 and has involved a total of 18 soldiers working to uncover a stone building, thought to date back to the 3rd or 4th Century AD.
Caerwent Training Area covers an area of approximately 1,500 acres, which is largely covered by woodland and industrial building. Investigations which took place at the site last year uncovered Roman artefacts including coins and a hypocaust – Roman heating system.
The University first got involved with the project after MA student James Spry began supervising excavations in 2011.
Since then, the University has been offering a special fee-waiving scheme to allow injured soldiers to take distance-learning archaeology courses at the School of Archaeology and Ancient History.
Professor Simon James of the University of Leicester said: “We are pleased to be lending our continued support to Operation Nightingale which offers unique opportunities for both the soldiers and the students of the University of Leicester who are working together on the dig.
“Operation Nightingale projects like this give injured soldiers the chance to build on their military skills to explore a novel and rewarding activity, our students help teach them archaeological techniques, while learning from the soldiers how to look after themselves in the field.”
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. This work draws on a number of important skill-sets to give the soldiers an enduring interest in heritage and their environment.
“The project has proved of immense value thus far in assisting the recovery of soldiers in The Rifles and other units, while at the same time accomplishing some great archaeology”
Sgt Diarmaid Walshe, who is also a qualified archaeologist, said: “The feedback from Service personnel who have attended the programme so far is that every single one has enjoyed themselves and gained a positive experience that has helped their recovery.
“The key to the success of the project is that the soldiers undertake many different activities, from digging to surveying, photography and finds processing. The programme gives them something useful to do which can help rebuild their self-esteem, provide them with a sense of purpose and give them something positive to strive for.
“This programme is also about giving something back to the local communities around Chepstow and South Wales who have shown strong support to our injured personnel.”
Posted by blogster at 12:44