Bronze Age roundhouse recreated by military veterans unveiled

A traditional Bronze Age roundhouse reconstructed by a group of military veterans as part of an experimental project has been unveiled.

TV presenter and archaeologist Professor Alice Roberts attended Butser Ancient Farm, near Chalton, Hampshire, for the completion of the replica which has taken 1,000 hours of work to build.

Butser Ancient Farm
Veterans Kevin Reilly (right) and Jackie Crutchfield apply daub to some wattle in the new Bronze Age roundhouse (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The 25 volunteers who worked on the project were recruited through Operation Nightingale to recreate the building which was excavated last year at Dunch Hill, near Tidworth, Wiltshire.

The Ministry of Defence launched Operation Nightingale 10 years ago with the aim of assisting the recovery of wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans by involving them in archaeological investigations.

As well as experimenting with different building techniques to establish the most likely method used for the original earth-walled construction 3,000 years ago, the veterans have also been learning about aspects of Bronze Age life from making pottery to spears.

Butser Ancient Farm
Veteran Jesse Swanson (left) joins Butser Ancient Farm’s Will Scanlan as they thatch the roof (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Navy veteran John William Bennett, from Havant, Hampshire, said: “To start with I was both excited and apprehensive about the project – apprehensive because I was fearful of how I would react to it, as socialising was a big trigger for my functional neurological disorder affecting my mobility and motor control.

“However, I need not have worried, I haven’t been triggered and my confidence has really grown.

“Working through each stage of the project has been brilliant and I still find it hard to believe how much my life has turned around because of it.”

Butser Ancient Farm
The roundhouse was built by veterans from Operation Nightingale, an initiative to assist the recovery of military personnel and veterans by getting them involved in archaeology (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Experimental archaeologist Trevor Creighton, from Butser Ancient Farm, said: “My colleagues and the Operation Nightingale team have formed a brilliant collaborative network and we are creating a building that helps us better understand prehistoric architecture.

“In the coming years it will provide even more insights into structures that no-one has seen for 3,000 years.

“But more than that, it is a way that we can give back something to people who have served their country in often harrowing situations.”