Archaeology Group For Injured Troops

28 September 2012, 12:23 | Updated: 28 September 2012, 12:31

The Ministry of Defence has launched a new Defence Archaeology Group on board HMS Victory in the presence of the Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Sir Charles Montgomery, and Channel 4's Time Team presenters Phil Harding and Helen Geake.

The aim of the group will be to utilise MoD archaeology heritage sites and it is seen as most fitting to hold the launch on board our most famous heritage site, HMS Victory, in the splendour of the Great Cabin.

The group will be the overarching organisation for Operation Nightingale, a successful project set up by Richard Osgood of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Sergeant Diarmaid Walshe of the Royal Army Medical Corps, which uses archaeology as therapy for wounded service personnel, providing an opportunity to learn and develop new skills as part of their recovery. Originally, the project provided opportunities for army soldiers recovering from wounds suffered in Afghanistan and now it is hoped the new group will become a tri-Service organisation, involving the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.

Involved in setting up the Defence Archaeology Group is Surgeon Commodore Peter Buxton, the Defence Archaeology Group's senior officer and an archaeology academic. He said:

"Archaeology provides an outstanding training and educational opportunity and the Defence Archaeology Group will provide a focus and support for Service personnel, particularly those who have been wounded, who are interested in archaeology.

The practical and academic skills they learn, whatever they choose to do in the future this will stand them in good stead."

Excavations on Salisbury Plain, as part of Operation Nightingale, has provided an unusually emotional experience for the volunteer archaeologists: - they made a surprise discovery -  the remains of warriors who died more than 1,400 years ago. They revealed an Anglo Saxon soldier buried with his spear and what must have been a treasured possession - a small wooden drinking cup decorated with bronze bands. This find and other interesting artefacts will be on display at the Defence Archaeology Group launch, in the Great Cabin.