Karen Nichols's blog

Christmas Raffle 2015

The staff at the Salisbury head office entered into the Christmas spirit this year by buying raffle tickets for the corporate gifts. The prizes included: spirits, wines, biscuits and other festive goodies, all of which had been kindly given to us by our clients and suppliers. 
The draw was yesterday and there were many happy winners! But the big winner this year will be the Harvey Warren Trust, a local organisation that raises money for charities related to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. We will be sending them all the money raised by the raffle – an amazing £150! 

Wessex Archaeology Publications 2015


We end the year with the delivery of a record 46 publications, (see the full list here). Our publications range from monographs on large-scale joint venture projects (A46 and East Kent Access Road), occasional papers such as Riverside Exchange, Sheffield Investigations on the site of the Town Mill, Cutlers’ Wheel, Marshall's Steelworks and the Naylor Vickers Works, as well as a number of articles in local, regional and international journals.       
Imperial College and RMC Land monograph is at the printers and we are working on a number of other monographs and occasional papers. We continue to develop the ebook series (available from the Oxbow Books website), and we are in the process of reprinting the Amesbury Archer a third time.
The delivery of such an impressive number of publications is a fantastic achievement and I would like to thank everyone for their hard work in making this possible, and we hope you enjoy reading them.

Heritage Lottery Fund support for Historic Environment Fisheries


Wessex Archaeology has received £92,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, Fishing Industry Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries: Establishing a Historic Environment Fisheries Liaison Officer. This project proposes the appointment of a Heritage Lottery Fund supported ‘Historic Environment Fisheries Liaison Officer’ (HEFLO) working in Sussex to engage with fishing communities to protect heritage.
Wessex Archaeology is working in partnership with Sussex Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority; Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee and the Chairman of the National Federation of Fishermen. The project is set to run for the next two years.
It has long been known that fishermen make archaeological discoveries. What is lacking is guidance on how these important discoveries can be reported and protected.
Through working with local partners and engaging with communities that rely on the sea, the HEFLO will raise awareness of how heritage discoveries made during fishing should be reported. The first year of the project will focus on establishing relations with the fishing community. In the second year the aim is to share the knowledge and understanding gained from the fishing community with schools, local societies and the wider community.
The project aims to create a legacy of engagement with heritage. It is as much about engagement with the fishing industry – and the communities it supports – as it is about increasing archaeological data.
Commenting on the award Euan McNeill of Coastal & Marine said: "We are delighted that the HLF are supporting this initiative and look forward to working with Sussex IFCA and the local fishing communities to enhance our understanding of our shared submerged heritage."
Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said: "Thanks to National Lottery players, we are excited to support this unusual project that has the potential to make a real difference to the way new artefacts discovered at sea are reported and protected."  

Season's Greetings

Once again Wessex Archaeology is wishing clients and colleagues seasonal greetings with our own festive e-card. Our Graphics team had a bit of fun on a cave art theme this year, click on the arrow to run the animation, we hope you enjoy it.
Sending e-cards instead of traditional Christmas cards has enabled us to make donations to several charities. The charities supported by our six regional offices for 2015 are:

Barrow Clump Nominated for Rescue Dig of the Year


We are excited to announce that 'Excavating Barrow Clump: soldier archaeologists and warrior graves' has been nominated in the Rescue Dig of the Year category in the 2016 Current Archaeology Awards!
Operation Nightingale teamed up with Wessex Archaeology in 2012 to excavate a Bronze Age burial mound and Saxon cemetery at Barrow Clump, in the Salisbury Plain Training Area. Operation Nightingale is a military initiative which utilises archaeology to aid the recovery and skill development of soldiers injured in conflict.


Barrow Clump has been a site of human activity for over five thousand years. Originally a Neolithic settlement site, a burial mound (or barrow) was constructed in the Early Bronze Age and was re-used as a cemetery site in the Anglo-Saxon period. Although Barrow Clump is protected by its designation as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, Operation Nightingale was given special permission to excavate and record the barrow due to the extensive damage being caused by badgers. The project took place 2012 to 2014 and revealed a wealth of information about those who had occupied the area.
You can vote for Barrow Clump to win the Rescue Dig of the Year, Current Archaeology award via www.archaeology.co.uk/vote
Voting will stay open until 8th February, and the winners will be announced at the Current Archaeology Live 2016 conference.
Find out more about the Operation Nightingale excavation at Barrow Clump by clicking on the following links to further information:

Christmas Tree Festival


Wessex Archaeology’s entry to this year’s Christmas tree festival at St Thomas’s Church, Salisbury is a Time Tree displaying archaeological finds from prehistory to more recent times. The festival runs until 6th December and is free; our entry is number 14 – for more information see the church web page.
Many thanks to Sue Johnson for making the display, to Sue Nelson for the original idea and to finds department for supplying the finds!

10th Anniversary Dredged Up now available

The 10th Anniversary edition of Dredged Up, the newsletter for the Marine Aggregate Industry Protocol, is now available online and in a wharf, tea room or dredging vessel near you! The 17th issue of Dredged Up celebrates 10 years of archaeological finds being reported through the Protocol with key participants of the Implementation Team reminiscing over their favourite dredging finds, which range from prehistoric animal remains to World War II aircraft parts.
This edition of the newsletter also features the 3-D recording and examination of an artefact that always proves a favourite on wharf awareness visits. It is remarkable how this delicate ceramic relish pot (CEMEX_0207) came to be underwater off the Isle of Wight sometime in the early 19th century and then survived being dredged up in the early 21st century. Graham Singleton at Cemex’s Portslade Wharf, East Sussex spotted and reported it in March 2009 before sending it to Wessex for further research, where it has become a key artefact in the Protocol Awareness collection. 
We recently revisited this find to learn more about it and share it with a wider audience. Now, courtesy of a sixth-form work experience student, Philippa Murrison, this pale blue earthenware pot with polychrome transfer decoration, can be admired by people throughout cyberspace.

19th-century Relish Dish with Napoleonic scene by Wessex Archaeology on Sketchfab

The relish pot has been recorded by multi-image photogrammetry and turned into a 3-D model which can be rotated and zoomed into at the viewer’s will. This also allows researchers to examine the find in more detail without handling it which can lead to damage. 
Learn about this remarkable dredging find and more in the latest Dredged Up Newsletter (Issue 17) follow this link

Successful survey of the South Australian

2591 Moulded wineglass from the wreck site

Back in the summer, Wessex Archaeology carried out a geophysical survey of the wreck of the South Australian. The report has been finalised and is now available to all from the Archaeology Data Service here.
The work was funded by a grant awarded from the Honor Frost Foundation by the British Academy. The survey was undertaken for the Ilfracombe and North Devon Sub-Aqua Club (ILFSAC), with the objective of producing a site plan of the wreck site to guide ILFSAC’s future work at the site. Members of ILFSAC have been diving the wreck site since the late 1980s and positively identified the wreck as the South Australian in 2005.
Built in 1868 in Sunderland, the South Australian sank in bad weather in February 1889 in the Bristol Channel, to the north-east of the island of Lundy. The vessel was a clipper ship, similar to the Cutty Sark, and was involved with the emigrant trade between the UK and Australia along with her sister ship the City of Adelaide (now in Port Adelaide, Australia). Later on, the South Australian was used as a cargo vessel and it was on a passage from Cardiff to Argentina transporting railway lines and fish plates (metal plates used to join the ends of two rails together) that the vessel sank.
The geophysical survey was conducted aboard ILFSAC’s dive boat Neptune on the 23 July 2015 by Stephanie Arnott and Laura Andrews of Wessex Archaeology.  They were ably assisted by Keith Denby, Shaun Galliver, Piers Biddle and Richard Howell, all of ILFSAC. Sidescan sonar data were collected over the wreck site in an area measuring 200 m x 200 m.
2589 Left: ILFSAC diver on the rail stack Right: Acquiring data
The bulk of the wreck site consists of a stack of railway lines, clearly visible in the geophysical data. The hull has collapsed and little now remains of the vessel. A large scour extends to the west of the wreck site. Adjacent to the rail stack is a debris field containing parts of the wooden hull. In the geophysical data a number of individual items of debris are seen. The majority of these features are not known to the divers and will provide targets for future investigations.
2590 Sidescan sonar image of the wreck site
The site plan produced will be edited and new information added as it becomes available. All features seen in the geophysical data are indicated on the plan along with the approximate positions of items found by the divers, where these are known. Some objects discovered by the divers, such as two anchors, do not have accurate locations associated with them and these will need to be dived again, related to the objects nearby and then added to the plan.
The results of this successful collaboration between Wessex Archaeology and ILFSAC will support ILFSAC’s aims to inform local communities about the maritime heritage on their doorstep and provide information for visitors to Lundy about the wreck of the South Australian. In addition, ILFSAC will be in contact with the Maritime Museum in Adelaide to exchange information that will aid both groups in understanding and preserving the history of both the South Australian and the City of Adelaide.

Special Commendation for the Iona II Dive Trail


Last night, the Iona II Dive Trail was honoured at the Association for Heritage Interpretation 2015 Awards. The 19th century paddle steamer Iona II is a protected wreck lying off the east coast of Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel where she foundered after setting sail to assist in the American Civil War. 
The project was awarded ‘Runner Up with Special Mention from the Judging Panel’ in the Interpretation for a Target Audience category. There was stiff competition in this category and the other shortlisted project was Light Fever, at Fort Nelson in Portsmouth, which teaches autistic young people to express themselves through recorded light graffiti. The category was won by the Roman Medicine Roadshow which uses ancient medicine and health as a talking point for current issues more relevant for their target audience of young people from socio-economically deprived areas.
Congratulations must go to the many people that contributed to the Iona II Dive Trail. It would not have been a success without the input of the diving community and charter boat operators, many of whom are very familiar with the wreck. Thanks go in particular to the divers from Ilfracombe and North Devon Sub-Aqua Club, Severnside Sub Aqua Club and Bristol Channel Divers, who tested the dive trail. Divers from Potters Bar Sub Aqua Club and Appledore Sub-Aqua club also contributed their ideas and photographs. Local charter operators, Clovelly Charters, Lundy Charters and Lundy Diving are thanked for their advice and assistance with running the test dives.
The contributions and assistance of Beccy MacDonald, the Lundy Warden, and Derek Green, Lundy Manager at Landmark Trust, are gratefully acknowledged. Thanks are also extended to Robert Irving and Keith Hiscock for providing information and images of the beautiful local marine life, to Alan Mildren of Marine Vision Studios for his brilliant short film about the dive trail, to the following groups who also assisted with the project: Lundy Field Society, Marine Conservation Society, McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Natural England, Seasearch and InHouse Encapsulation; and not least to the staff at Historic England for commissioning the dive trail on this protected wreck.
The Wessex Archaeology drawing office did an amazing job on the interpretation materials design work, and Victoria Cooper, formerly of Wessex Archaeology, kept everything on the straight and narrow managing the project. 
Due to the enthusiasm and generosity of all the people and organisations above, I had an enjoyable job of putting together their ideas, information and images into the multi-layered and participatory interpretation scheme that is the commended Iona II Dive Trail. Now there is even more reason to dive this protected wreck next dive season! 
Peta Knott, Marine Archaeologist

Great North Museum - Roman artefact scans



We have now posted our second video demonstrating the results of 3D scanning of Roman objects. This work has been carried out in partnership with Newcastle University and involves the digital capture of objects relating to the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site, one of Britain's most important archaeological monuments.
In contrast to our previous video of large monument scans, this video shows 3D scans at the other end of the scale, small objects of prestige and of everyday life in Roman Britain. 
These artefacts are also from the collection of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle, housed within the Great North Museum. They were scanned over the course of a single day with the help of Faro, who generously provided us with their industry-leading hardware, capable of capturing incredible high detail at a small scale. As with our monument scans this work will also feed into the NU Digital Heritage project (nu-digitalheritage.com).
For more information on the previous monument scans see our series of blog posts.
To find out more about our laser scanning services follow this link.
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