A GROUP of injured military personnel and veterans are taking part in a unique project using archaeology to help their recovery.

Operation Nightingale is an initiative to help rehabilitate injured personnel recently returned from operations by getting them involved in archaeological investigations.

The project will see members from all three armed services excavate a Roman fort and settlement at Old Malton, North Yorkshire, under the watchful eye of experts from the University of York.

The fort is of significant archaeological and cultural importance which could yet unearth some vital clues to the Roman past.

And the service personnel, who have both physical and mental health injuries, will be introduced to the skills of excavation, survey, drawing and artefact handling and recording.

The development of the fort is currently understood only in outline, based on excavations which took place some decades ago. Initial excavations were undertaken in the 1930s, exposing parts of the fort defences and some interior buildings.

The project is a joint enterprise between the University of York, the Malton Estate, York St John University, Historic England and the Defence Archaeology Group.

The latter’s project manager, Sgt Diarmaid Walshe: “It’s helping to build links with the local community and also engaging with elements of the local population we normally have no interaction with.”

“The project helps those taking part rebuild their self-esteem, provide them with a sense of purpose and give them something positive to strive for.”