The Challenge

Wessex Archaeology was awarded a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to undertake a community engagement project in relation to the first of three proposed seasons of archaeological excavation at Barrow Clump within the Salisbury Plain military training area. Entitled Project Florence, this initiative comprised an extensive and inclusive programme of activities running between June 2012 and July 2013 that aimed to engage all age groups within the local community. Particular attention was given to local garrison communities, a hard to reach audience.

Aims

The aims of Project Florence were threefold:

Firstly, to complement the work of Operation Nightingale, a military initiative aiming to meet the demand amongst wounded soldiers for viable rehabilitation programmes utilising heritage, primarily field archaeology.

The second aim was to increase public awareness of, and promote community interest in, the rich archaeological heritage of South Wiltshire and the Barrow Clump site in particular. This multi-period archaeological site has revealed evidence of Neolithic settlement, a Bronze Age burial mound and an Anglo-Saxon cemetery, but is threatened by badger activity and is currently on the English Heritage at Risk Register. The 2012–2014 excavations and post-excavation work are being run by Wessex Archaeology on behalf of, and in conjunction with, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation.

The final aim was to provide a range of training opportunities for local people to enable them to acquire new skills and abilities for the future.

Visitors touring the site at project florence Community video work Phil Harding supervising soldiers during excavation work

Our Approach

Wessex Archaeology employed a dedicated Project Florence Officer to deliver the extensive and inclusive programme of activities over a 13-month period.

Activities included site open days, post-excavation volunteering opportunities, establishment of a free archaeology club for 8–16 year olds, a portable roadshow exhibition and public talks. High quality promotional materials were produced by Wessex Archaeology’s specialist graphics team in support of the project and a targeted media campaign was employed. Digital media formed a key part of the project, enabling several thousands of people to follow developments online via Facebook, Twitter and the Wessex Archaeology website.

Wessex Archaeology successfully partnered with a range of organisations during the project: the British Army, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Heritage Lottery Fund, Operation Nightingale and Salisbury Arts Centre.

The archaeological work at Barrow Clump included excavation and recording, processing of finds and environment samples, analysis of the results and publication of the site.

3025 Views on Youtube of project movie Operation Nightingale: Time Warriors

530 members of the public spoken to during road show

1 Bronze Arts Award certificate

Our Results

Project Florence has been viewed as an exemplary community engagement initiative. It has strengthened communities by providing access to shared heritage and by equipping local people with a range of new skills. It has also fulfilled a vital role within the Operation Nightingale project at Barrow Clump by raising awareness of this worthwhile initiative and nationally important site. Through Project Florence, Wessex Archaeology has demonstrated an innovative and inclusive approach to community engagement.

To find out more about this project follow this link.

To read more about the community engagement click here.

 

Community engagement

Wessex Archaeology developed an innovative community engagement initiative entitled Project Florence, and was awarded a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The aims of Project Florence were to promote community interest in the rich archaeological heritage of South Wiltshire, to provide a range of training opportunities for local people and to complement the work of Operation Nightingale, a military recovery initiative for injured soldiers. 

 

Implementation

Wessex Archaeology’s dedicated Project Florence Officer delivered an extensive and inclusive programme of activities over 13 months, which aimed to engage all age groups within the local community. Events included on-site activity days and open days, post-excavation volunteering opportunities, talks and lectures and creative events to celebrate the national Big Draw festival. High quality promotional materials were produced by Wessex Archaeology’s specialist graphics team in support of the project and a targeted media campaign was employed. Digital media formed a key part of the project, enabling several thousands of people to follow developments online via Facebook, Twitter and the Wessex Archaeology website. 

Project Florence also included several particularly innovative elements.

 

Make a Movie Project

The Make a Movie project was an exciting opportunity to engage young people with their local heritage and enable them to develop new skills and talents for the future. Through this partnership project between Wessex Archaeology and Salisbury Arts Centre, a group of 14-25 year olds were trained by professional filmmakers to film, edit and produce a 25-minute documentary about Operation Nightingale and the Barrow Clump excavation. The film received excellent reviews and has been viewed over 1800 times on YouTube. Each of the 11 young volunteers involved in the project achieved a nationally recognised Bronze Arts Award certificate. 

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Playing with the Past Archaeology Club

Playing with the Past was a free archaeology club for 8-16 year olds. Meetings were organised in association with the Army Welfare Service and covered a range of interesting archaeological topics and periods. Highlights included discovering underwater archaeology, building Neolithic houses and the Victorian Christmas party. The club successfully gave the budding archaeologists an increased knowledge of their local heritage and provided opportunities for them to develop their social skills and creative talents. 

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Road Show Exhibition

A portable road show exhibition was designed to showcase the discoveries from Barrow Clump and promote community interest in the site. The road show proved to be an excellent method of increasing public awareness. Over 530 people were spoken to during the ten days of the road show and the variety of local venues selected ensured that a wide range of community groups were reached. The high quality exhibition, designed in conjunction with volunteers and produced by Wessex Archaeology’s dedicated graphics team, also went on display in Wiltshire Museum.

 

Outcomes

Project Florence has been viewed as an exemplary community engagement initiative. It has strengthened communities by providing access to shared heritage and by equipping local people with a range of new skills. It has also fulfilled a vital role within the Operation Nightingale project at Barrow Clump by raising awareness of this worthwhile initiative and nationally important site. Through Project Florence, Wessex Archaeology has demonstrated an innovative and inclusive approach to community engagement. 

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