Operation Nightingale is an initiative to help assist the recovery of injured soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan by getting them involved in archaeological investigations…

The initiative, controlled by the Ministry of Defence, has been running since 2011 and has undertaken fieldwork in the UK and overseas, with hundreds of military personnel having worked on projects.

Owning around 1% of the UK mainland, the defence estate holds a lot of the nation’s heritage. 770 scheduled monuments are within this portfolio which presents not only a major challenge for the 4 archaeologists that work for this government department, but also a fabulous opportunity to share cultural heritage opportunities with volunteers.

This work not only assists the wellbeing of participants but also contributes towards the department’s commitment to the stewardship of the historic estate. Operation Nightingale has also worked alongside several military related charities and the excavation work has led to numerous publications as well as to new artefacts being displayed in museum galleries.

The Community Interest Company, Breaking Ground Heritage, is a charity is run by military veterans and is one of the main providers of volunteers for Op Nightingale digs. If you are a veteran or currently serving you can apply for Op Nightingale projects through their website. The website also holds excavation reports and films of many Op Nightingale sites.

Wessex Archaeology is one of the main commercial providers of Op Nightingale projects. You can read more about their work on projects here.