A dusty find

The site sits on part of the Salisbury Plain Ministry of Defence training ground and is currently on the heritage at risk register as a result of intense badger activity. Ironically it is the badgers themselves that have drawn the attention of archaeologists to the site. In the early 2000s English Heritage noticed that unusual objects were being kicked out of the badger setts - specifically fragments of Anglo Saxon weapons and even human bone. In 2003-4 a project was initiated to evaluate the nature of the Bronze Age mound and to assess the level of damage being done by the badgers. Several trenches were opened revealing twelve Anglo Saxon burials, with some very nice finds, inserted into the barrow.

Fast forward to 2011 and Richard Osgood, MoD Archaeologist, begins discussion with Sgt Diarmid Walshe, also an archaeologist, concerning the possibility of focusing on the site as part of 'Operation Nightingale', an MoD effort to use archaeology as a tool in the recovery of injured soldiers coming home from the conflict in Afghanistan.

2012 was the first season of work at the site, collaboration between the MoD, Wessex Archaeology, English Heritage and Natural England. The aim of the project is to 100% excavate the mound over three field seasons. So far the project has discovered an additional 14 burials, men and women, complete with amazing finds - weapons, brooches and even a drinking horn.

Time Team was invited to tell the story of Operation Nightingale and the site of Barrow Clump. The team worked in the trenches with the soldiers of 1 Rifles and lent a hand with a little bit of geophysics. The MoD asked Time Team to help with the excavation of a specific trench designed to establish the condition of the unexplored half of the site - did the burials extend in that direction? John Gater also joined the team to conduct geophysics around the barrow to discover the extent burial ground... What treasures would the project uncover?