Karen Nichols's blog

Company Policy Analyst Intern Week 2

In my last blog post I mentioned the importance of seeing how a heritage firm operates from the inside and finding out what goes on behind the scenes to allow the archaeological work to run smoothly. Having worked in the office for my first few weeks getting a firm grounding in the company’s policies, particularly health and safety, I’ve now had the opportunity to see and take part in the area of the company where a lot of these policies are put into practice - Wessex’s archaeological operations. 

1126 An archaeologist's trowel

One of the best aspects of an internship at a company like Wessex Archaeology is the ability to access such a wide variety of experiences. Whilst providing a great opportunity to work within the busy office environment that you’d expect from a placement with a company, I’ve also been able to get outdoors and get some first-hand archaeological experience; since archaeology is a subject I’ve been enthusiastic about for a long time, this has been a valuable and unique opportunity. It’s been particularly useful to gain an understanding of how archaeological projects operate at a business level having previously taken part in university research digs and small voluntary projects. Additionally, working with some really experienced archaeologists has certainly helped me to improve my digging and recording skills, as well as enabling me to see the connections between the work I’ve been doing in the office and the work that goes on on site. Being able to spend, probably, the sunniest week of the year so far outside hasn’t been too bad either!
As I approach the mid-way point of my internship, I’m really pleased with the range of work I’ve had the opportunity to take part in and I’m feeling very optimistic about how the skills I’ve learnt here will impact on a future career.

Sun Shines Bright for Media Day at Longforth Farm

1119 Bob Davis shows off some of the finds

The medieval secrets of Longforth Farm were revealed to the media at an open day on Monday 8th July. Over 20 representives from the press and broadcast media attended this exclusive event, which showcased the medieval mystery that has been unearthed at Longforth Farm together with a tour of the site by Bob Davis Wessex Archaeology’s Senior Buildiings Archaeologist. The latest finds featuring heraldic and Richard I design ceramic tiles were the highlight of the day.
The event included a live BBC Points West broadcast from the site, pre-recorded interviews for the BBC and ITV, together with a host of radio and press interviews.

1123 A tour of the site

This open day was hosted by Bloor Homes and was the first day in a week-long series of events, including an open day on Saturday 13th July, to showcase this extensive medieval site and its range of high quality finds to the local communities in and around Wellington.
Peter Dean, Commercial Director for Wessex Archaeology, said “We are delighted to have the opportunity to tell the fascinating story that is Longforth Farm in such an inclusive way. Our medieval mystery is being unravelled but the last chapters remains to be written


For more information on the open day or other events click here

Mystery Medieval Archaeological Site Uncovered at Somerset Housing Development

1115 Wessex Archaeology excavating the site

A previously undocumented and unknown high status complex of buildings dating from the medieval period has been unearthed at Longforth Farm, Wellington, Somerset, on the site of a new housing development currently being constructed by Bloor Homes.

The site is being excavated by leading specialist heritage company, Wessex Archaeology who have been working on this part of the site since the end of May and will be spending a further three to four weeks on site before building commences. 

1114 Medieval floor tiles

Excavations on the site so far have uncovered the remains of stone foundations in a pattern which suggests that there may have been a series of buildings on the site set around courtyards. The mystery lies in exactly what the buildings were used for. Finds on the site include roof slates, glazed ceramic roof tiles and decorated floor tiles suggesting that these were substantial buildings of high status – perhaps part of a religious or manorial site.
Bob Davis, Senior Buildings Archaeologist for Wessex Archaeology said:
This is a significant find and therefore very exciting, particularly as there are no documentary records that such a site ever existed here. Preliminary dating of pottery sherds found at Longforth Farm suggest that the buildings were occupied between the 12th and 14th centuries. At some stage however, the buildings were abandoned, the useable building materials were robbed out and recycled and the site was forgotten.”
Paul Talbot, Design and Technical Director for Bloor Homes who are funding the excavation said:
We are delighted to have been able to fund this excavation which has enabled Wessex Archaeology to examine and record this exciting find and to help the community understand more about Wellington’s hidden heritage. As a responsible developer, we have embraced the requirement for ecological and archaeological mitigation whilst addressing the housing needs of a continually expanding community.” 
Excavations will continue until the end of July when building will commence on the site. Further details about the finds and the history of the site will be published by Wessex Archaeology once the finds have been examined and further research work has been done.


Somerset County Council has also provided advice and support during the excavations and assistance in advance of visits by local schools, archaeological and historical societies and in preparation for a community day on 13 July when the site will be open to the general public. 
Associated Links

Archives Intern Week 3

1112 Project files

It’s strange to think that I am already halfway through my internship. Over the past three weeks, I have become completely familiar with the layout of the archives and many of the offices in the Wessex building. The organisation of archives has become easier for me, a welcome development, seeing as this week I have begun to deal with larger, messier paper archives. Sometimes, these documents have been quite frustrating as they seem to go on forever. I think my working area has tripled in size as I slowly spread my files onto the desks around me. Seeing a stack of paper correctly organised has become the most satisfying feeling to me, a fact which I couldn’t have imagined saying a few weeks ago!
Working with archives has also taught me a lot about myself. Whilst I think I am a very tidy person, my working area seems to explode papers in a dozen different directions at once without my knowledge. I have realised that my love of cataloguing is probably grounded in the fact that it makes me feel tidier than I really am. Perhaps by the end of my internship, my hope for a tidy life will have become a reality. Sadly, I know this will never happen.
By Hannah Lamarque

OWA JV Board Meeting

1107 Chief executives Chris Brayne and Gill Hey

Wessex Archaeology recently hosted a board meeting, at its Portway House headquarters, for its joint venture with Oxford Archaeology. This meeting provided the first opportunity for the new chief executives of both companies to meet and discuss a range of industry concerns as well as a number of imminent archaeological publications that have resulted from the joint venture.

Chris Brayne commented "the OWA JV has been an innovative way of delivering large infrastructure projects and I look forward to working with Gill and her team on the future evolution of our JV"

Archives Intern Week 2

This week has been really interesting for me as I have not only been able to work in different departments but also, have had the opportunity to work with archaeological artefacts. On Wednesday and Thursday I spent some time in the Finds Office which deals with objects discovered on site. On Wednesday I washed a very large amount of objects from an excavation in Kent. Although the process may sound laborious, I found it really fascinating. Transforming clods of what just looked like dirt into fragments of Roman pottery or animal bones was an incredible experience. It’s amazing to think that so many of these items lie beneath our feet without our knowledge.

1101 Marking finds

The finds objects also have to be marked with ink, which is an extremely messy process! As most pens aren’t up to this challenge, you have to use a pot of ink and a sort of quill in order to mark them. Still, this process isn’t even completely successful; a lot of the items begin to erode when scratched with the nib of the pen. During my time with finds, I have also learnt that I am obsessed with worked flint. Out of all of the objects I handled, this was by far my favourite; I love its texture and the semi-translucent appearance. If it was up to me, I would mark and catalogue flint all day, every day. Instead, I am looking forward to trying out different things next week and possibly discovering another new favourite thing!
By Hannah Lamarque

Company Policy Analyst Intern Week 1

1099 Eleanor at work

I’ve been really interested in archaeology and the heritage industry in general for a long time now, so I was very excited by the opportunity to join Wessex Archaeology as an intern and learn how a company like this is run from the inside. It hasn’t taken long to realise how much work goes on behind the scenes in order for the company’s actual archaeological work to take place!
I spent most of my first week familiarising myself with the most up-to-date legislation on health and safety and also human resources (there’s a lot!) and getting down to some research. This is something I’ve always enjoyed and since I finished my degree only a few weeks before the start of the internship, I’ve managed to retain most of my research skills!
As a company that takes on a great number and variety of archaeological projects, including coastal & marine there are all sorts of additional health and safety concerns to be taken into account, which means that my research has taken me well beyond the health and safety regulations of an office environment. It’s been a re

Company Policy Analyst Internship

1098 Policy documents

Wessex Archaeology welcomes Eleanor Stevens, who is spending a three month internship with us as Company Policy Analyst. 
Eleanor has recently graduated from Exeter University, and has worked at Warwick Castle as a guide. During the next few weeks Eleanor will help with a full review and consolidation of company policy; focusing on health & safety and human resources, and by the end of her internship will have a greater understanding about the role policy and legislation plays in a company and charity. 
Eleanor will be writing her own regular blog about her experiences while she is with us, so watch this space to find out how she’s getting on!

Archives Intern Week 1

1087 Archives at Wessex Archaeology

Before beginning my archiving internship last Monday, I was really daunted with the prospect of being left to sort through an archaeological archive. Having worked primarily in a cinema archive, my historic and archaeological knowledge was non-existent. However, after having catalogued a number of excavation records this week, I can confirm that my worries were completely unnecessary! I have really enjoyed working alongside the archaeological archives as archiving is, for me, one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable activities, a fact which I have been consistently told is really unusual!
The process unearths things which you would not have thought to look for and opens up a direct link with the past. On my third day, I was able to visit a dig in process in Somerset. Viewing first-hand the process which I had previously only encountered from behind a computer really made me excited about archaeology. Unlike a lot of other archiving forms, archaeological digs seem to me to be concerned with objects which are still living. Unearthing new finds brings the past to life again. Following my first week, I feel really excited to learn new things and stumble across new objects in the archives.

Cheddar Reservoir


Wessex archaeology are currently digging a number of trial trenches on land near Cheddar in Somerset on behalf of Bristol Water. The work is being undertaken in advance of the submission of a planning application for a new reservoir (Cheddar Reservoir 2). The site lies on the edge of the Somerset Levels, an area rich in archaeological remains, and may have been a focus of activity from the Mesolithic onwards. The work is likely to last for several weeks. 
For more information click on this link 
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