English Heritage and Operation Nightingale excavations 2003−2014
(Wessex Archaeology Monograph 40)
By Phil Andrews, Jonathan Last, Richard Osgood and Nick Stoodley
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.