English Heritage and Operation Nightingale excavations 2003−2014
(Wessex Archaeology Monograph 40)
By Phil Andrews, Jonathan Last, Richard Osgood and Nick Stoodley
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Barrow Clump, on the east side of the Avon valley, lies in the centre of the Salisbury Plain Military Training Area. It is the site of a large, partly extant Early Bronze Age burial mound which incorporates an earlier Beaker funerary monument, seals a Neolithic land surface, and was the focus of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery, most of the 70 graves dating to the 6th century AD.
Excavations in 2003−4 were carried out largely in response to the damage being caused to this and other prehistoric monuments by badgers. The subsequent work in 2012−14 was made possible by the participation of Operation Nightingale (Exercise Beowulf), an innovative military initiative to involve injured service personnel in archaeology to aid their recovery.
Radiocarbon dating has provided a coherent chronology for the important prehistoric sequence, and has also shown that Anglo-Saxon burial continued into the 7th and possibly the 8th century. Notable cemetery finds include a sword with well-preserved organic remains, a bucket with surviving yew staves, a fine great square-headed brooch and only the second Visigothic brooch of its type to be found in Britain.