Friday, 25 May 2012

DDA MAY 2012


Since we last Blogged about Digging Dad's Army we have seen the passing of David Croft-  co-creator with Jimmy Perry of the iconic TV series which gave us our name.

Aside from noting the passing of someone who helped create a piece of TV History and in so doing rescued for the public and future generations a strand of important Social History; we also note that inevitably the number of people in our communities who have a first hand experience of the conflicts, the archaeology of which we try to record, is becoming smaller.

That should be a spur to us to hold and record those conversations and introduce those people whose generation experienced conflict in all its forms to the young people who will carry the memory of thier experience forward into their own sense of identity and history.

As a footnote to the death of Mr Croft, last Spring [2011] Andy Brockman of DDA was delighted to be able to help in the research for the episode of the BBC's "Reel History of Britain" about the Home Guard and as always for the public the starting point of the programme was the perception of the Home Guard created by "Dad's Army."


A number of Conflict Archaeologists, including members of the DDA Team, have been involved in supporting Operation Nightingale.  A brilliantly simple new project developed by archaeologist [and Medical Sgt] Diarmaid Walshe of 1 Rifles and Richard Osgood and Martin Brown at the Historic Environment Advisory Team at the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and designed to use archaeology as a tool to help rehabilitate servicepeople with mental or physical injuries.

Since the first pilot excavation at East Chisenbury Midden on Salisbury Plain last September the project has taken off in a way no-one could have predicted, with one TV documentary in the can and another in the offing and with excavations and fieldwork taking place in Sussex, on Portland Bill, with the Town Unearthed Project at the Folkestone Villa and at Caerwent on an incredible Roman building first excavated by Antiquarians whose finds and notes have since been lost.

The project has seen  servicemen and women working in archaeology, often for the first time, alongside professional archaeologists and students delivering new data which would not have been obtained in any other way-  especially at East Chisenbury, but also pioneering new approaches to the excavation of air crash sites- and most importantly making life better for people who have often experienced life changing events.

The project has been supported by Canterbury Archaeological Trust, Wessex Archaeology and the University of Leicester and has seen effects ranging from soldiers who are now about to start degrees in archaeology having never considered it before last September and, perhaps most important of all, soldiers who have said the experience of doing archaeology was so positive they have had their first good nights sleep since returning from Theatre.

The success of Op Nightingale probaly also offers lessons in how archaeology can offer far more than just new knowledge about the past.


In addition to preparing reports, we are currently preparing two weekend projects under the DDA Banner for 2012, one for the Festival of British Archaeology in July and another for the Heritage Open Days in September.

Both are community based and focus on community responses to the threat and reality of Air Raids.

Details soon on this Blog.