Chris Brayne's blog

West of England LEP

1847 Chris Brayne and Andrew Youl sign the funding agreement.

Andrew Youl from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) joined our Executive Management Team at our new Bristol office last week to sign a funding agreement to support the development of our business in the city. 
The money comes from the West of England Growth Fund which provides help towards investments designed to promote growth and employment. In our case, the money will help support our investments in equipment, a vehicle and local office facilities and has already resulted in the creation of several new full-time and temporary positions.

In their first weeks of trading, the Bristol team have already secured eight new projects in the region. Business Manager, Andy King explained, "Despite all our communications technology, business people prefer to deal with local suppliers.  We are seeing enquiries from our Bristol neighbours for work across the whole of the South West and into the Midlands."

1850 Andy King and Chris Brayne with Andrew Youl at Wessex Archaeology's new Bristol office.

Chief Executive Chris Brayne said, “We were attracted to Bristol by the city's prospects for growth and the availability of local skills and expertise. By opening an office here we made a commitment to invest in business development and staff training and have been delighted by the response from staff and local businesses. We are very grateful the West of England LEP for their support and hope to continue working with them as we grow."


Archives and Storage Charges

778 Archives in storage.

Last week we saw the directors of Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Heritage Museum warning their local authority that planning conditions which include archaeological intervention are no longer sustainable. All because of the lack of suitable archive storage. In recent days the problem of archive deposition has been discussed in British Archaeology and on the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 (ref 2hrs 53 min).

Wessex Archaeology has been looking at how we can help solve these problems for several years. We know that there is no single answer but we are determined to play our part. Our own frustrations with closed repositories have prompted us to warn our clients that they may face on-going problems due to unfulfilled planning conditions. To help our clients and the wider audience understand the situation we have collated a set of questions and answers which, we hope, set out our position clearly.
In March we will be attending the meeting of the The Archaeological Archives Forum where we will be sharing our experiences of successful solutions. We have been working with the Archaeology Data Service to develop a protocol for the archive storage of digital photographs and have supported museums in their work to enhance and implement retention policies for archaeological material. 
We will continue to support our clients in their efforts to meet planning conditions and wish to work with local authorities and museums curators to achieve those ends. We will also join our colleagues in the  effort to lobby at local and national levels for a considered and coherent long term plan.

Sue Davies OBE


Sue Davies has been at the heart of Wessex Archaeology for the past 33 years and is held in high esteem for her achievements in Archaeology. We all wish her continued success in her career as she moves on to pursue a new set of challenges.

Legacy proposals get go-ahead for 2012 Olympic mountain bike venue

The public will get the opportunity to try the Olympic mountain bike course in Essex once the London 2012 Games are over following Castle Point Borough Council’s approval of legacy proposals. Wessex Archaeology's Heritage Team on behalf of Essex County Council provided a Cultural Heritage Environmental Statement as part of a wider planning application which was informed by a detailed historic landscape assessment and historic building survey. The assessment considered various scheduled monuments, ranging from a prehistoric settlement, medieval castle and World War II gun battery, and listed buildings around the venue area.

624 Mountain Biking at Hadleigh Farm. © image courtesy LOCOG

In addition to retaining and adapting the Olympic mountain bike course at Hadleigh Farm for public use, the plans will also deliver access and environmental improvements for the adjacent Hadleigh Country Park. These include creation of multi-use recreation trails, a new visitor centre and business units, as well as grassland habitat restoration and new heritage interpretation.

The venue plays host to the Olympic mountain bike event on 11th and 12th August.


Surveying with SmartNet

We have been enthusiastic GPS users for a couple of years now but our latest acquisition of several Leica SmartNet enabled devices has changed the way we use the technology.

In the past when we needed to obtain accurate fixes for our survey work we have needed to log raw GPS data for several hours over one of our survey control points to process against the Ordnance Survey’s Active Station RINEX data. This sometimes meant that we had to be on site a whole day in advance of excavation teams. Smartnet uses the GSM/GPRS network to provide our rover units with real time correctional signals.

To begin with we upgraded our existing Leica1200 series GPS unit with a Smart Net GPRS unit. This allowed us to test the technology and check that we were getting the results we needed. A big concern was that we would have problems with GSM/GPRS cover - we tend to work in more remote locations than most land surveyors - so far though, Vodafone seem to have served us quite well.

In June we invested in a handful of Smartrovers - which were designed from the ground up to use the SmartNet technology and connect to standard mobile phones over Bluetooth. Again we were a little nervous - Bluetooth can be a temperamental technology - again we were very pleasantly surprised. The only time we have had serious problems with Bluetooth was when working near high tension cables.

We have now upgraded our old GPS500 rover unit to work with SmartNet. This is a very cost effective upgrade which gives the older equipment a very productive new lease of life.

Well, hello world!

We are the IT Section of Wessex Archaeology. We are a mixed team of technologists, archaeologists, managers and practitioners who work together to support the rather varied computing needs of a large archaeology practice and its even more varied clients. As well as the usual geeky obsessions, our interests include database and web development, mobile computing, multimedia, GIS and survey technology as well as theoretical issues.
The postings here are designed to allow us to share our thoughts about the work we do. We will, of course, boast horribly about our successes but we will also complain about our frustrations and let you in on some of our (more realistic) plans for the future. Perhaps we will even persuade you to help us out.
This blog has now been combined with our main News blog
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