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Training Dig 2006: Places still available

Practical Archaeology Training Course at Down Farm, Sixpenny Handley

September 4th-8th and 11th-15th

Do you want to take part in a real archaeological excavation? We still have a few places left on our 2006 Practical Archaeology Course, for both weeks. You’ll learn all about the skills of excavation, surveying, recording the site, how to look after artefacts, as well as workshops and lectures covering other archaeological specialisms.

To find out more or book your place, visit the course website.

Photos, Archaeology and Flickr

At Wessex Archaeology, we’ve been working hard to build up a photo gallery which shows some of our most interesting projects and finds. We are pleased to announce that we now have over 200 photos online, with many more on the way. You can see them on the gallery section of our website.

The gallery has always been one of the most visited parts of our website. Thousands of people look at it each week, and we know from their comments that people love to see what life is like on an excavation, and to look at pictures of what has been dug up. In the light of its popularity, we have taken a different approach to a ‘traditional’ gallery.


We attach keywords or ‘tags’ to each of our photos. This helps us organise photos and helps you find more photos similar to the ones you have found interesting. In the example below, clicking on “excavation” will take you to a list of other photos of people doing just that, excavating!

Or you can see a “tag cloud” and explore our photos by associated words, just for fun!


Our photos are hosted by Flickr, an online photographic sharing community, owned by Yahoo! Inc, whose aim is to “help people make their photos available to the people who matter to them”. The emphasis is also on the word community. People who use Flickr are able to comment on each other’s photos, ask questions and join special interest groups.

So, you can now get to our photos in two ways. You can browse them at leisure on our gallery, or you can view them on our Flickr homepage. If you’ve got a Flickr account (they’re free, although you’ll need to sign up for a free Yahoo! ID) you can comment on our photos and add us as a contact (and we’ll add you as one back!) to keep a track of when we upload new ones.

Keeping track: our Photos and RSS

RSS Feed Icon If you’ve never heard of RSS before, or have heard of it but want to know more, the BBC have a fantastic guide to what it is and how it can help you to keep up with the things you are interested in on the internet. Basically, it’s a way of ’subscribing’ (for free) to specific information on the internet to help ease the ever-growing tide of information.

Flickr offers RSS feeds for just about everything. You can subscribe to our photos in your favourite RSS reader with the link and you can even subscribe via RSS to photos about specific things, using the tags we attach to each image.


If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below.

Mystery Burial at Alresford

The Westgate Museum, Winchester has a small but intriguing collection of coins on display until the end of April. The coins were discovered by Wessex Archaeology in 1997. They had all been minted in the Tudor period, between 1400 and 1600, and were found with a mysterious 17th century burial near Alresford.

The money had probably been in a small pouch at the dead man’s waist and would have been worth enough to pay for a decent burial. So it is a mystery why this 30-45 year old should have been buried out of a churchyard in a shallow grave. He clearly hadn’t been robbed, and if he was a suicide or a criminal it is likely that he would have been buried at a crossroads.

The man seems to have been dressed when he was buried, but there is no sign of foul play. Perhaps he had died of an infectious disease and had to be buried quickly. The plague was no stranger to Alresford, indeed the town had one of the earliest Pest Houses in England.

We can speculate about this puzzling man and his unfortunate end, but it is likely that he will remain a mystery.

Fabulous Finds

Post-excavation analysis of the site of the former County Hospital in Dorchester is nearing completion. As a result our understanding of the town’s Roman inhabitants is growing. To find out more about the objects uncovered, such this ornate Seal Box, visit our new web pages.

Big Digs, Little Digs and Tiny Trial Trenches!

Chichester District Museum has opened a new exhibition of recent archaeology from the area. The display illustrates the scope of modern archaeology, ranging from research work and developer funded archaeology to chance finds and metal detecting.

A striking feature in the display is a 13th century roof finial which once decorated the roof of an imposing house in the medieval city. It was excavated by Wessex Archaeology in 2003 from the site of the Pallant House Gallery extension.

There are activities for children throughout the exhibition, including a sandpit dig and a collection of mystery objects. The exhibition runs until July 15th.

Training Dig 2006!

Practical Archaeology Training Course at Down Farm, Sixpenny Handley

September 4th-8th and 11th-15th

Following the success of the courses held in 2004 and 2005, these five day courses will take place at Martin Green’s farm on Cranborne Chase “one of the most carefully studied areas in western Europe”. The Down Farm landscape includes parts of the Dorset Cursus and Ackling Dyke, Bronze Age barrows and Roman and Iron Age buildings. It is a rich, multi-period site in a wonderful setting.

To find out more or book your place, visit our 2006 Training Dig webpage.

New Exhibition Pages

Check out the new online exhibition from our Coastal and Marine Department. Learn about Seabed Prehistory, Wrecks on the Seabed and much, much more!

Why not also visit our Exhibitions Homepage to see a selection of other exhibitions produced by Wessex Archaeology.

A Visigoth in Kent?

A small piece of rusted iron discovered by Wessex Archaeology at Springhead, near Gravesend, turned out to be a 5th - early 6th century Visigothic brooch.

The Visigoths (West Goths) were one of the German tribes. Settled near the Black Sea in the 3rd century AD, by the 6th century they had migrated west and reached Spain and southern France.

The Springhead brooch is a very exciting discovery indeed. A number of similar brooches have been found in southern France and central Spain, with a few in northern France, but this one is the first to be found in Britain.

X-ray photography showed that the brooch was made of iron with silver inlay, very similar to two Visigothic brooches found in Fr�nouville, Normandy.

In the last 30 years or so a number of objects of Visigothic design have come to light in this country, mainly in south-east England.

The Springhead brooch is another piece of evidence suggesting connections between the cosmopolitan people of Kent and the small number of Visigothic groups known to have lived in northern France at the time.

Could it be that the Springhead brooch was worn by a Visigoth here in Kent?

To read the article in full and to find out more about the archaeology of Springhead

Innova Park, Enfield

The present industrial and urban character of the lower Lea Valley marks only the latest stage in a constantly changing landscape. Since the end of the last Ice Age people have taken advantage of its abundant natural resources in a variety of ways. Find out more about this fascinating area.

Wessex Archaeology on BBC Radio 3

Wessex Archaeology will be featured on BBC Radio 3’s “Sunday Feature” on Sunday 5th February at 9.30pm.

In one of the most famous last lines of modern poetry,Seamus Heaney resolves to use his pen as a spade and excavate. Like many poets, Heaney is drawn to archaeology. Christine Finn, an archaeologist and poet herself, explores the connections between these two crafts.

As part of the programme, Christine visited our excavations at Renny Lodge, Newport Pagnell. The result is broadcast as The Sunday Feature and is called “I’ll dig with it.”

Further details can be found on Radio 3’s Sunday Feature website.

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