Karen Nichols's blog

Au Revoir to Retiring Chair

After eight years as a Trustee, and most recently Chairman, Robert Key has formally retired from the Board of Trustees.
 
The Company marked the occasion with a presentation of an individually commissioned Beaker pot and a celebratory lunch on the lawns of Old Sarum Airfield.
 

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Chris Brayne, Chief Executive, thanked Robert for his unstinting drive, energy and humour  –  all important and vital skills in the archaeological world.
 
Robert via a Farewell message to the whole organization said "Thank you all for the privilege of serving as a Trustee for nearly eight years. In good times and bad I have never lost faith in this amazing organisation nor lost sight of the fact that WA is the embodiment of all that is best about the profession. Above all, the people who make it tick are dedicated, innovative and resilient. WA has transformed itself into what others see as the most business-like, socially aware company in the field. Not only do we do excellent archaeology, we have broken new ground in community education and outreach which is widely acclaimed. I am very proud to have served as your Chair".
 
Genie Turton has been appointed as Acting Chair whilst a new Chair is externally recruited.
 

Local Schools Discover Archaeology at Longforth Farm

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Over 200 schoolchildren from four local schools were given the exciting opportunity to visit an archaeological dig following the discovery of an unknown complex of medieval buildings in Wellington, Somerset. 
 
The hands-on workshops were organised by Wessex Archaeology and Somerset County Council and were funded by Bloor Homes
 
Students were given a tour of the site and a chance to see archaeologists at work before getting creative with clay and designing their own decorated floor tiles inspired by those uncovered on site. 
 
Teachers described the workshops as “a wonderful opportunity” and “absolutely brilliant” and the children left the site as budding archaeologists!
 
For more information on this project visit the project pages
 
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Company Policy Analyst Intern Week 3

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The last couple of weeks back in the office have been a real test of my organisational skills in terms of both manual and computer documents. As companies increasingly move towards digital storage of data, the old paper systems have to be kept up to date during the transition period. Many documents are now held in digital form or transferred to computer, leaving behind lots of old copies and various other papers to gather dust in long forgotten cabinets. Part of my role is to assess which paper documents must be kept and stored from those that can be doomed to the shredder and the recycling bin. In conjunction with this I’ve been going through Wessex’s intranet and looking at ways of making policy files more accessible to everyone.
 
This is actually a surprisingly satisfying process, although the heaps of papers I’ve been surrounded with for the past couple of weeks have been on the verge of blocking out daylight. Despite the debris, my system usually results in some reasonably tidy and up to date files! I also attended and took the minutes for a meeting of the Safety, Health and Environment Committee, which was another really useful experience in helping to understand the kind of issues an archaeology company, with so many strings to its bow, must consider.
 
Eleanor
 
 

Archives Intern Week 5

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During the last week, I have been able to continue many of the tasks which I started at the beginning of my time at Wessex. It feels very satisfying to see the mammoth list on my desk become a bit smaller. On Tuesday I travelled to the Dorchester museum archive in Dorset, to both drop off a number of sorted archaeological finds and pick up further boxes which needed to be looked at. There were boxes and boxes and boxes. Luckily I had the help of a number of other people who were much stronger than me. As they leapt past me up the stairs whilst I was heaving in a pool of my own sweat and tears, I couldn’t help but feel slightly ashamed.

 
The Dorchester museum archive is an incredible building; it is an old church which was converted during the 1970s when the museum’s own storage space became too full. Although the boxes of archaeological finds and records take up a lot of the space, in areas it was possible to glimpse a part of the old stained glass windows behind the shelves. My favourite part about the space was that, whilst it is home to multiple archaeological archives, the building is a sort of archive-at-large. By considering both the current use of the space and the historical structure of the church, you can perceive a double-time, an historical place which transforms historical objects. 
By Hannah Lamarque

 

Longforth Farm Floor Tiles

The most recent discoveries at the Longforth Farm, Wellington medieval site have cast further light on the high status of the building. Two additional medieval floor tile designs have been found at the western end of the building confirming that the private chambers and possible chapel are likely to have been located here. 
 
One of the designs includes a chequered argent or shield motif which may relate to the family name of St Barbe. The other is a recognisable depiction of King Richard I (1189–1199). This tile shows the helmeted king on horseback, charging against his enemy, and would originally have had an opposing tile showing Saladin, Sultan of Egypt, also in a symbolic combat pose. These two great adversaries were involved in the Third Crusade (1189–1192) and are often depicted together on this type of floor tile.
 

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Following an enjoyable and successful day on Friday 12th July 2013, when local historical societies were shown around the site, information provided by a local historian could suggest that the building was owned by a medieval Provost (a Steward or Bailiff of a medieval manor or officer of a medieval district). 
 
The interest and enthusiasm from the local societies was overwhelming and we are hopeful that future insights from them and other members of the community will provide essential knowledge on the origins and use of this enigmatic structure.
 

Local Communities Flock to Longforth Farm

Perhaps it was the medieval mystery that surrounds Longforth Farm, Wellington, or the beautiful weather that inspired over 1400 visitors to come along to Saturday’s Archaeology Day.
 
The open day, Sponsored by Bloor Homes and organised by Wessex Archaeology, featured guided tours of the medieval remains under excavations and viewings of the latest finds.
 

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Phil Harding, of Time Team fame, was on hand to talk to the visitors and provide his unique take on the unravelling medieval mystery. Members of Somerset County Council’s Archaeology Service were also present. 
 
All in all it was an excellent day out for local communities and a fantastic response to Wellington’s hidden heritage. 
 
If you missed this event, why not join us Saturday 20th July 2013 at Barrow Clump, Wiltshire.

A Memorandum of Understanding with Callen-Lenz

1108 UAS in action (courtesy of Callen-Lenz)

Wessex Archaeology and Callen-Lenz have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to bring together advanced remote sensing techniques using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) with proven archaeological techniques to deliver cost-effective wide area surveys to developers, consultants and planners.
 
Combining internationally recognised archaeological experience with leading remote sensing capabilities the two companies are delivering integrated survey services for the archaeological sector.  Having worked together since 2012, the companies recognised the significant benefits that customers can gain from the ability to undertake cost-effective wide area survey using UAS, targeting ground survey to specific areas of interest.  The ability to produce high resolution imagery, create 3D surface models and combine this with archaeological expertise allows the team to survey, detect and record key archaeological features in a rapid and efficient manner.
 
Chris Brayne, CEO of Wessex Archaeology said "Unquantified risks are the most serious threat to any project. These new prospection techniques are applicable to a wide range of situations and are increasingly affordable. We believe that there are significant efficiencies to be gained for large-scale infrastructure projects, speeding up both the planning and implementation phases. Better information at an earlier stage means more scope to avoid problems and ultimately a lower overall cost."
 

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"We are delighted to be working with Wessex Archaeology in this exciting new area. The use of UAS based remote sensing to deliver high resolution datasets in both colour and Near Infra-Red imagery enables us to undertake wide-scale landscape surveys, uncovering archaeological features which would remain hidden using other techniques" said Jonathan Webber, MD of Callen-Lenz.
 
 

Barrow Clump Open Day

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Discover amazing archaeology and spectacular artefacts at Barrow Clump on Salisbury Plain. Visit a Bronze Age burial mound and Saxon cemetery being excavated by injured soldiers and Wessex Archaeology as part of Operation Nightingale.
 
Saturday 20th July 2013 10am-4pm
 
Free entry, all ages welcome.
 
  • Experience a real archaeological dig site
  • Witness the discovery of Saxon burials
  • Meet archaeologists and learn about our work
  • View some fascinating artefacts from the excavation
  • Handle replica Saxon artefacts from Wiltshire Museum
  • Get hands on in our ‘mini digs’
  • Make and decorate your own clay pot
  • Meet Channel 4’s Time Team favourite Phil Harding
 
How to find us:
Drive north on the A345 from the Amesbury junction of the A303, crossing one roundabout. Turn right at the ‘C’ tank crossing and follow signs to the parking area. Please note that the site is a 15-minute walk from the parking area.
 
Limited spaces are available at the site for those with walking difficulties.
For more information contact Laura Joyner on 01722 326867 or email Laura
 
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Archives Intern Week 4

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During this week, I have been introduced to a different method of cataloguing and recording archives in preparation for Southampton museums. Whilst much of the organisational paper content is the same as Wessex’s own, many of the preparatory methods are slightly different. In order to make sure I don’t make any mistakes, I have had to pay very close attention to both the presentation and organisation of the archaeological records. Despite finding this task straightforward initially, as the week has gone on and it has become hotter and hotter, I have found that I have made an increasing amount of mistakes. Soon, I am sure, it will return to a bearable temperature and my English brain will be able to cope.
 
On Thursday, I was able to deliver a completed archive to Farnham museum which I had organised at the end of last week. I found the complete process really satisfying (especially the labelling and folding of paper which encouraged my fledgling neatness) and it is nice to think that a small proportion of my work has been passed on to a museum. Next week, hopefully, I will be able to complete further projects and continue on my way to archiving success!
By Hannah Lamarque
 

Festival of Archaeology 2013

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Wessex Archaeology is organising several events to take place during the Festival of British Archaeology 2013. We will also be displaying information and activities at several local archaeology events. Below is a summary of these events and links to find out more details.
 
Saturday 13th July 10am-4pm
Longforth Farm Archaeology Day
Wessex Archaeology is organising a free open day in Wellington, Somerset, on the site of a newly discovered medieval complex of buildings.
 
For more information click here
 
 
Sunday 14th July 11am-4pm
Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre
Join us at the Archaeology and Conservation Fair where you can meet 20 local organisations involved in archaeology and find out about fieldwork opportunities, careers, courses, clubs for children, local societies and museums. There will be something for everyone including: fun activities for children; a chance to handle objects from local museums; a fascinating programme of 10 minute talks; advice on careers and work experience; volunteering opportunities; tours of the conservation labs and demonstrations of the new Historic Environment Register.
 
For more information click here
 
 
Wednesday 17th July 10am-4:30pm
Behind the Scenes at Wessex Archaeology, Salisbury 
Book a free tour of our Salisbury office, a former RAF base near Old Sarum. A chance to meet the specialists and see some of our rare artefacts. 
 
For more information click here
 
 
Saturday 20th July 10am-4pm
Barrow Clump Open Day
Free day out. Discover amazing archaeology and spectacular artefacts at Barrow Clump, a Bronze Age burial mound and Saxon cemetery being excavated by injured soldiers and Wessex Archaeology as part of Operation Nightingale. Experience a real archaeological dig site; witness the discovery of Saxon burials; meet archaeologists and learn about our work; view some fascinating artefacts from the excavation; handle replica Saxon artefacts from Wiltshire Museum; get hands on in our ‘mini digs’; make and decorate your own clay pot; meet Channel 4’s Time Team favourite Phil Harding.
 
For more information click here
 
 
27th July 10am-4pm
Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum Archaeology Day 
Archaeology for all: discover whether you have the skills to be an archaeologist; meet our Anglo-Saxon ancestors with living history group Centingas; activities for all the family.
 
For more information click here
 
 
Sunday 28th July 11am-4pm
Rockbourne Archaeology Day 
Free day out at Rockbourne Roman Villa. In 1942, Rockbourne Roman Villa was discovered by a ferret and a farmer, 70 years on and its your turn! Join us for a celebration of the area's archaeological heritage. Find out more about our HLF funded project, The RockDam Community Project, and explore the site with Musa, the villa's mistress. There will be lots to see and do for all ages at this unique and fascinating archaeological site.
 
For more information click here
 
To find out about other FBA events near you click here
 
 
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