Broken Pots, Mending Lives

The Archaeology of Operation Nightingale

A fully illustrated insight into an innovative recovery programme that supported wounded soldiers through involvement in archaeology.
Date Published :
August 2023
Publisher :
Contributor(s) :
Professor Alice Roberts
Illustration :
B/W and color illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781636242460
Pages : 256
Dimensions : 10 X 8 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


For those that survive, the traumas of military conflict can be long-lasting. It might seem astonishing that archaeology, with its uncovering of the traces of the long-dead, of battlefields, of skeletal remains, could provide solace, and yet there is something magical about the subject. Operation Nightingale is a program set up in 2011 within the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom to help facilitate the recovery of armed forces personnel recently engaged in armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, using the archaeology of the British Training Areas. In the following decade, the project expanded to include veterans of older conflicts and of other nations – from the United States, from Poland, from Australia and elsewhere.

In archaeology there is a job for everyone: from surveying and drawing, to examining the finds, to digging itself. Often this is in some of the most beautiful and restful of landscapes and with talks around a campfire at the end of the day.

This book is the story of those veterans, of their incredible discoveries, of their own journeys of recovery – and sometimes into a lifetime of archaeology. From the crash sites of Spitfires and trenches of the Western Front in the First World War, through to burial grounds of convicts, camp sites of Hessian mercenaries, and Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. Lavishly illustrated, this work will show the reader how the discovery of our shared past – of long-forgotten houses, of glinting gold jewelry, of broken pots, can be restorative and help people mend otherwise damaged lives.

About The Author

Richard Osgood works as Senior Archaeologist for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation within the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom. He has excavated widely with research interests including the North European Bronze Age, the archaeology of conflict, and the cathartic benefits of archaeology.



Chapter 1: Origins at the Midden
Chapter 2: The Phoenix and the Eagle
Chapter 3: Legends
Chapter 4: Mud, Blood and Green Fields Beyond
Chapter 5: Tally Ho!
Chapter 6: Facing Beowulf
Chapter 7: Locking the House
Chapter 8: Homes of the Dead
Chapter 9: Conclusions

Further Reading

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