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The Next Generation of Archaeologists at Wessex Archaeology

Children from a local primary school were given an introduction to archaeology at the offices of Wessex Archaeology in Rochester last week.


The budding young archaeologists were shown some of the work that goes on at the office including washing pottery and drawing some of the finds we get from site.
Some of the children were quick to grasp the idea that finds can be used to assess the status of a site!


In the afternoon the children were then given an introduction to some of our work in underwater archaeology and identifying some of the finds, including a cannon ball and a mammoths tooth.
And we shattered some illusions - archaeologists today are more likely to wear high visibility vests and hard hats than embarrassing jumpers.

379 Dressing up in high visibility clothing

The children seemed to thoroughly enjoy their day (although the most popular part were the biscuits) and we received some most welcome thank you cards. We would have been equally happy with wine though..


The day organised by Helen Glass of Wessex Archaeology and Wendy Rogers of Kent County Council and carried out by Katie Card one of Wessex Archaeology’s specialist learning and access officers. Please contact Helen about regarding our outreach programmes and how Wessex Archaeology can add value to a development using our experienced team of specialist learning and access officers.

Phil Harding opens the new Old Sarum Primary School

376 Official opening commemorative plaqueWessex Archaeology and Time Team star Phil Harding has opened the new Old Sarum Primary School. Phil used some of the finds from the Wessex excavations at the site to explain to the children why their school was a special place.

It had been special thousands of years ago when it was used as a Bronze Age burial ground. And it was special again now that it was their school. The Bronze Age finds from the work have also inspired some of the public art in the new development.

Read more about the official opening in this article in the Salisbury Journal.

375 Phil Harding at the opening of Old Sarum Primary School


Time Team Series 18 post-excavation reports now online

373 Time Team report We are pleased to announce that the post-excavation reports for Series 18 (first broadcast in 2011) are now available to read online or download via our Time Team Reports page. This year, since Channel 4 have reorganised their Time Team website, we have also linked to the episode pages on the Channel 4 website. There it is possible to view the episodes themselves. Just click the "Watch now on 4oD" link underneath the site summary.

Wessex Archaeology are responsible for making sure that all Time Team’s trenches are properly recorded, using standard techniques, and that a report is compiled at the end of the dig, to present the results. We work closely with the people carrying out the site survey, the geophysical survey and the landscape survey, all of whose results are incorporated in our reports.

You can also follow the latest news and behind-the-scenes work from Time Team on the Time Team Digital website.

Visit our Time Team Reports page to find out more.

Science in Archaeology Lectures at Mid Kent College

362 Mark Williams

Wessex Archaeology has begun working with Mid Kent College to develop a series of lectures based upon the use of science in archaeology.
The aim of these lectures is to demonstrate to science students that the traditional image of scientists in stuffy white lab coats with clip boards doesn’t always hold true. Archaeological scientists of are often out there in the field carrying out data collection in the mud and the rain. To be fair there we have our fair share of lab coats and clip boards too!
In December 2011, the first lecture, by Project Manager Mark Williams, highlighted some of the ways that the sciences are routinely used in archaeology; the purpose of the lecture was to pave the way for future more specialised talks. The lecture series will continue through 2012.
If you require any information regarding these lectures please contact Mark Williams (

Forthcoming Talk

Mark Williams will be presenting the preliminary results of some of work undertaken by Wessex Archaeology over the past year in a lecture on Friday 20th January 2012. This is part of the Maidstone Area Archaeological Group’s programme of presentations. Find out more about this talk.

Winter update from our Sheffield Office

After a busy summer and autumn it’s time for a seasonal breather – and another blog post from the Sheffield team.  The past six months have seen our ever expanding field team busy with some large scale excavations and a plethora of smaller scale work, watching briefs and geophysics, over a wide area including Derbyshire, County Durham, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire.
Whilst monitoring pipeline works at Draycott, Derbyshire, our team discovered a group of cremation burials – these are probably prehistoric and we are excitedly awaiting the carbon-dating results to prove this.  At Hope Quarry, Derbyshire and Adwick-le-Street, South Yorkshire, our teams have uncovered parts of Iron Age and Romano-British field systems – although the diggers at Adwick were disappointed not to find evidence of a nearby Anglo-Saxon cemetery! Work at Conisborough, South Yorkshire examined a double ditch and bank associated with a medieval deer park, once a hunting ground for the kings of England but long since disappeared from the local landscape.
The Sheffield team are always interested in our industrial heritage. We have recently investigated part of a 19th century iron works and corn mill in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, furnaces at a glass bottle works in Mexborough, South Yorkshire, and coal mining activity at Langsett, South Yorkshire.  We’ve also completed reports on major iron works at Clay Cross, Derbyshire and Kirkstall Forge, Leeds.
Our largest sites have been large-scale wind farm projects in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Work between Easington and Saltend followed on from our geophysics earlier in the year and discovered prehistoric, Roman and medieval sites, with some interesting finds including part of a jet bracelet, a bone whistle and a decorative face from a Roman flagon (pictured).

343 Decorative face from a Roman flagon

Not content with our own backyard, the Sheffield team regularly works with our other offices, on projects as far flung as North Wales and West Sussex, and ranging from gravel quarries in the glorious sunshine to sites on mountainsides in the driving rain – all part of life in a busy archaeology office!

Archaeological Detectives at Baden Powell School, Poole

Last Friday Gemma Ingason and Katie Card joined pupils at Baden Powell and St Peter’s Middle School to each deliver five one-hour workshops on the Tudors for Year 5 and World War Two for Year 6. 

327 Pupils at Baden Powell and St Peter’s Middle School enjoying the workshop

The sessions began by introducing how maritime archaeologists find out about the past by using different methods such as diving, research and geophysical survey.
Year 5 became detectives identifying artefacts from a mystery box and trying to work out who their owner was. Children examined coins, medieval pottery, wooden pulley, nit combs and a potato. They discovered the owner was a Tudor sailor. Students discussed what life would have been like on board a Tudor ship.
Meanwhile in Year 6, the children identified fragments recovered from the seabed and tried to work out what they came from. They were excited to discover that the artefacts belonged to a German aeroplane called a Junkers JU 88.
One lucky pupil from each class donned an authentic aviator’s suit. The class discussed the different parts of the uniform, including a scarf map, knife tied to the suit with a string and woolly gloves.
The children were brilliant and very much enjoyed learning about their maritime past.

328 Trying on an authentic aviator’s suit

Recording Avebury Manor, The Manor Reborn

In advance of filming for the new BBC series “The Manor Reborn” Wessex Archaeology were commissioned by the National Trust to undertake a programme of archaeological investigation and recording of the Grade I listed Avebury Manor. This would provide accurate dating of the various parts of the house, and to provide a record of the house before the transformation of its interiors.

The four part series begins on Thursday 24 November on BBC One at 9pm.

Find out more about our work at Avebury Manor.

321 The South range at Avebury Manor added c.1601 and significantly altered 1740.

Operation Nightingale - using archaeology as a rehabilitation tool for injured servicemen and women

Staff in Wessex Archaeology's Salisbury office are taking part in a pilot project entitled 'Operation Nightingale' to explore the potential of using archaeology as a tool in the rehabilitation of injured servicemen and women. The project is being led by Richard Osgood of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation who Wessex regularly works for on Salisbury Plain, and Sgt Diarmaid Walshe of 1 Rifles. In the first stage of the pilot Dave Norcott helped with an environmental archaeology (auger) survey on Salisbury Plain before the 11 soldiers from the Rifles visited Portway House for some practical demonstrations.

314 Operation Nightingale: Dave Norcott explains the archaeology of Salisbury Plain

The preliminary results of the pilot have been so encouraging that further trials are planned.

315 Phil Harding with participants of Operation Nightingale


Continuing our involvement in this project, we have just hosted our first two work placements from the Rifles. James and Paul have spent two weeks with us, taking part in various activities but also following their own interests. James worked with Jackie McKinley, learning about human bone, while Paul brushed up his artistic skills in the Drawing Office. Both commented on how welcome we made them feel, and they gave us excellent feedback about their time here.

316 Illustrating finds

This is an extremely worthwhile project and all concerned have enjoyed the experience so far. Thanks must go to those who helped James and Paul, by introducing them to various aspects of our work, and working with them over the last two weeks.

317 James learning about human bone with Jackie McKinley

Hands-on History in Bicester

In 2008, Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by Countryside Properties to excavate at Whitelands Farm, the site of the new Kingsmere development in Bicester. The results of this excavation are being published in the local journal, Oxoniensia. This year we developed teaching resources and a display about the excavation for the local school, St Edburg’s. Katie Card and Nicolas Bigourdan recently visited St Edburg’s School in Bicester to talk to the pupils about their local history. Katie tells us all about it:

“In October, Nic and I visited the school to talk to the children about the archaeology at Kingsmere Development.

“During their morning assembly we started by asking the children what they thought an archaeologist did. I went on to explain how archaeologists use different methods, such as geophysical survey and excavation, to find out about the people who lived here in the past.

311 Katie Card explains what archaeologists do during St Edburg's school assembly

312 Handling real artefacts“In their class groups, the children became archaeologists for the day. They handled objects discovered during the excavations and tried to identify them. Nic and I were on hand to give them clues. The objects included a 250,000 year old stone tool, some Roman pottery and grave goods from a Beaker burial, including a flint blade and bone toggle which are over 4000 years old.

“The day was a great success and the children enjoyed being able to handle real artefacts found near their school. We even made it into the local newspaper.”

Finds from the excavation are currently on display at the St Edburg’s School along with a leaflet and display posters. A teacher’s pack full of activities suitable for KS1 and KS2 is also available to download.

313 Handling, identiying and talking about the artefacts brought into the classroom

Former MP Robert Key elected as Wessex Archaeology's new Chairman

Robert Key FSA has succeeded Professor Geoffrey Wainwright as the Chairman of Wessex Archaeology's Board of Directors, who has retired after seven years of duty.

Robert taught economics in Edinburgh and London between 1967 and 1983, and served as MP for Salisbury from 1983 to 2010. He was a founder Minister at the new Department of National Heritage in 1992 (now DCMS) where he was responsible for Museums and Galleries, Heritage and Archaeology, Royal Parks and Palaces and for the national lottery. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 2007.

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