The Barrow Clump excavation on Salisbury Plain, has has shown the site was the focus of human activity for over five thousand years.
Originally a Neolithic settlement site, a burial mound (or barrow) was constructed here in the Early Bronze Age and was re-used as a cemetery site in the Anglo-Saxon period.
Although Barrow Clump is protected by its designation as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Operation Nightingale was given special permission to excavate and record the barrow due to the extensive damage being caused by badgers. Previous excavations were carried out on the site in the early 20th century by Lt-Colonel William Hawley and in 2003–4 by English Heritage.
One of the key finds was a 6th-century weapon, however the degree of corrosion on the sword and the fact that it was contained within the remains of its wood and leather scabbard meant that they would need to use an x-ray machine to examine it in more detail
However, at 85 cm in length, the sword was too large for the in-house x-ray facilities at Wessex Archaeology, so the Army, through Captain Doe and Sergeant Potts, kindly offered to undertake the work using equipment based at a Field Hospital Unit in Aldershot.