Defence Archaeology


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                          DEFENCE ARCHAEOLOGY GROUP                

There is a close correlation between the skills required by the modern soldier and those of the professional archaeologist. These skills include surveying, geophysics (for ordnance recovery or revealing cultural heritage sites), scrutiny of the ground (for improvised explosive devices or artefacts), site and team management, communications, planning, mapping, navigation and the physical ability to cope with hard manual work in often inclement weather conditions.

The Defence Archaeology Group (DAG) is a Not for Profit registered organisation that facilitates Op Nightingale archaeology projects through its close links with institutions and existing archaeological schemes. The DAG supports a diverse outreach programme, utilising heritage and archaeology practice that is executed in order to develop and enhance the composite physical and social capabilities of tri-service injured military personnel. The Main Effort being focused on both the technical and social aspects of field archaeology to help with the recovery, management and skill development of soldiers. Accordingly, the project enables serving regulars, reservists and veterans, opportunities to accomplish comprehensive skills training exercises using various aspects of archaeology and heritage management in order to develop dexterous abilities that will compliment both Service and Veteran rehabilitation programmes.

In addition, the training affords individuals’ opportunities to develop their potential for future service or civilian careers and provides the awareness of heritage under the care of the MoD. Op NIGHTINGALE and DAG have been awarded coveted archaeological awards including the prestigious British Archaeological Award, the MoD Sanctuary Award and has been the subject of Channel 4’s Time Team.



Op NIGHTINGALE is an award-winning project that seeks to help Wounded, Injured and Sick (WIS) UK Forces Servicemen and women, Reservists and Veterans on their pathway to recovery. Working alongside professionals, WIS personnel are introduced to archaeological skills including excavation, survey, processing, recording and photography of artefacts and public outreach activities. Through these processes, they develop transferable skills including team working and problem solving. The field exercises help individual’s rebuild self-confidence and to help prepare them for the future, in a supportive environment living and working with military peers who have been through similar life turbulences, developing new skills and rediscovering older ones.

This unique project provides an opportunity for our service personnel and veterans to work in a military/civil coordinated effort, helping to build links with the local communities and engage with people they normally have no interaction with and preserve local heritage and practises. Furthermore, it provides a beneficial syllabus that helps prepare service personnel and veterans with informal training and experience, exposing them to complementary options on education and employment when or if they have to leave service life.

The key to the success of the project is that the soldiers and veterans find themselves as a focal point for everything we do. They have responsibilities to ensure that key tasks expected, are achieved in a timely manner. Rebuilding the foundations of teamwork and comradeship that they tell us, is sorely missed. It gives them a different focus and keeps their minds active, processing accustomed challenges in a familiar ‘field environment’ but with an unusual sense of purpose and reward, rebuilding their self-worth and providing them with the positive assurance that they can succeed.

The responses from Service personnel and veterans who have attended past programme so far, is not only that they enjoyed themselves and had a positive experience but it has helped them deal with real-time issues that were holding back their potential.

Op NIGHTINGALE excavations are now carried out by Defence Archaeology Group and a number of organisations which can be found on the Partners Organisation page.

FOR MORE INFO CLICK HERE                                SEE HERE


(Honorary President of the Defence Archaeology Group)

Well known to all fans of Time Team, Phil has been the Honorary President of the Defence Archaeology Group since its formal foundation which took place in Admiral Lord Nelson’s cabin on HMS Victory. As well as providing advice, Phil plays an active part in many of the excavations. Read More