Last Saturday’s community open day at Barrow Clump really ended the three-year Operation Nightingale project in style!
It provided the last opportunity for local people to visit this exciting archaeological dig, before the project finally comes to a close this week. In spite of the appalling weather forecast, we had only a few drops of rain and over 230 people visited the site.
Volunteers and service personnel from Operation Nightingale guided visitors around the site to view this year’s findings. Highlights included the burial of an Anglo-Saxon warrior complete with shield boss and spearhead, and another unusual crouched burial, also Anglo-Saxon. Several of the artefacts from the site were on display in the finds tent, including a pair of beautiful Anglo-Saxon saucer brooches, a much older Roman-style brooch and a modern Parachute Regiment badge.
Visitors were also treated to a range of interesting displays and demonstrations. Phil Harding spent the day knapping flint tools and teaching people how to identify worked flint, while Jackie McKinley, Wessex Archaeology’s senior osteoarchaeologist, bravely excavated one of the Bronze Age cremation urns in front of a fascinated audience. A range of Anglo-Saxon replica weaponry, jewellery and domestic materials were displayed by Wiltshire Museum, Wessex Wildcraft and Weorod, and these really brought the site to life for visitors and staff alike, with the fantastic ‘Burial Rites’ and ‘Dressing the Warrior’ demonstrations placing the site in its context.
Young people were invited to create their own Bronze Age pots, excavate mini sandpit digs, design Saxon shields and make Anglo-Saxon brooches to take home. A special heritage trail was also designed for participants in the Children’s University scheme, which proved a big hit.
The day was made possible by our wonderful volunteer team, who worked behind the scenes all day to ensure that the event ran smoothly. We would like to say a huge thank you to all of the volunteers and exhibitors who took part, and to Wiltshire Council for generously contributing funding.
Written by Laura Joyner