TWO Hampshire Universities are collaborating to explore the mental health benefits of archaeological digs.

Southampton Solent University and the University of Winchester have been given £3,000 in funding by charity MARCH to investigate the benefits and use of archaeology as a rehabilitation tool for military veterans.

The programme was initially conceived by Dr Paul Everill, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Winchester in 2016 and has built on successful work started by the Heritage for Heroes scheme.

Solent’s Dr Karen Burnell, Senior Lecturer in Psychology said:

"It is a very different, yet very powerful way to support veterans who are coping with the psychological and physical impact of their military service.

Being able to have conversations with people who really do understand them, and to watch the group support each other, seems to have a profound impact.

I feel very privileged to be involved with this meaningful and important research, and I hope that we can secure more funding to investigate further.”

Dr Burnell became involved with the research on the wellbeing benefits of archaeology with Dr Everill and Richard Bennett, a former Royal Marine and director of Breaking Ground Heritage (BGH) who are also involved in the project.

Excavations have taken place here and overseas, with British veterans having worked with veterans of conflicts in Georgia, Ukraine and Afghanistan.