Karen Nichols's blog

Christmas Tree Challenge

3205 Waiting to be decorated

To get everyone in the festive spirit, our regional offices (Salisbury, Bristol, Welshpool, Sheffield, Maidstone and Edinburgh) are taking part in an inter-office Christmas Tree Decorating Challenge, to be judged by you, our Social Media followers. Photos of the trees in all their creative glory will go live on Monday 12th December, and the tree with the most combined likes on Facebook and Twitter by the morning of Monday 19th December will be declared the winner…
…and for the successful office, there will be cake!

Female PPE


Archaeology, despite our best efforts, does not seem to take any notice of the seasons and therefore, as field archaeologists we are required to be out in all weathers all year round. Sometimes we are sweltering in the dust of a quarry site in August, other times we find ourselves wading through calf-deep clay mud in soggy Somerset in February. Battling with the elements as we do, having good warm and waterproof clothing is essential and is provided by Wessex. Recently Wessex has been trialling a new range of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), one that is specifically designed for female staff as, many of us realise, there is no such thing as ‘unisex sizes’. Historically there have been a number of issues for female staff regarding the clothing we use on sites; trousers, too narrow in the hip or two long in the leg; jackets that fit width-ways but come down to your knees. Besides making some of us look like we have borrowed some clothes from an older sibling, ill-fitting PPE also impedes movement and reduces its effectiveness, so we look ridiculous and get damp anyway. No more! After six months of assessing the effectiveness of the new PPE Wessex will now be offering it as an alternative to the unisex brand it currently uses. Staff who trialled the PPE have said that it affords a greater range of movement without compromising on size and that the fit is far more comfortable. In some cases, there was little difference noticed between the unisex and the female specific PPE but, as we are all different shapes and sizes this is to be expected. Hopefully more companies, not only working in heritage but in other sectors to, will recognise this need for a wider range of PPE sizes and fits and make them available to their staff in the near future. 

St Lawrence Church, Tinsley

Graveyard Survey
Following on from the highly successful three-year HLF Community Heritage project ‘Exploring Tinsley Manor’ with Heeley City Farm and Tinsley Junior School (now Tinsley Meadows), and the University of Sheffield History Department’s Unravelling Tinsley’s Court Rolls project, Wessex Archaeology Sheffield staff recently helped Heeley City Farm with an ongoing graveyard survey of St Lawrence Church in Tinsley, Sheffield. The survey is being carried out by Heeley City Farm Heritage with the help of student volunteers from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield as part of their Archaeology in the City programme. 
3200 Wessex Archaeology graveyard surveyors with Sally Rodgers of Heeley City Farm
The current church was built in 1879 on the site of an earlier (17th/18th century) church, which itself was thought to incorporate elements of a Norman chapel, the Chapel of St Leonard. In the 18th century, the renowned Sheffield antiquarian Joseph Hunter (1783–1861) described the Norman elements of the church in his South Yorkshire (a history of the Deanery of Doncaster). Michael Wood also discusses the church and chapel at length in the Tinsley Wood chapter of his 1999 book In Search of England: Journeys into the English Past. Sadly all traces of the Norman church were lost in the Victorian rebuilding. 


The earliest known date for one of the graves is 1714, whilst a parish book has records of baptisms, marriages and burials dating from 1711. The earliest graves are thought to lie around the current church and are predominantly aligned east to west, with a more formal north-east to south-west layout for burial plots beyond it. 
The volunteers have been carrying out a condition survey of the graveyard, including transcribing inscriptions for the first time, and tying this in with the burial records, index cards, and information from a churchyard plan. The records of the known burials are being digitised to provide a single database which can be easily accessed by members of the church and public. The aim of our work was to help in producing an accurate plan of the graveyard, tied into the Ordnance Survey grid, and to assist with the digital recording and database. Over 400 graves and plots were recorded over three days, including the earliest graves around the church. 
From 2017 Sheffield staff from Wessex Archaeology will be assisting Heeley Farm and Tinsley Meadows school with a new two-year HLF Community Heritage Project entitled ‘Tinsley: Time and Travel’.

Finds from the Army Basing Programme


If you are near Tidworth next Thursday (8th Decemeber 2016), why not join members of Wessex staff and hear them talking about recent archaeological work in Tidworth, Bulford and Larkhill.

The Jubilee

The Jubilee is a Montrose Salmon Cobble, named in honour of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. It was built in 1977 by J. Johnston & Sons of Montrose, Angus using larch planks on a whitewood base in a clinker method. It has a total length of 7.45 m, a width of 2.9 m and weighs 2.61 tons. A central plank on the flat bottom of the boat replaces the keel while whitewood timber sheathes the larch planking and a high prow protects the vessel from coastal surf, two outboard engines were mounted on the back of the transom. 
This vessel was recorded using photogrammetry as part of our continuing programme of support for the Scottish Fisheries Museum.

The Former Titanic Works, Sheffield


Public Access Open Day
A huge thank you to all those who came along to the open day tours at the former Titanic Works, Sheffield, on Friday as part of this year’s Sheffield Design Week. We carried out four 1 hour tours on behalf of Derwent Students, Sheffield 3 and BSRE, with a super total of 20 members of the public coming along to explore the site over the course of the day. We had a fantastic time meeting new people and teaching them about the former works, and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
The former works is a Grade II listed building, and comprised four buildings set around a central yard, During the redevelopment of the site in 2008, two previously unknown crucible cellars were unearthed, adding to the one beneath the listed structure. All three cellars are retained within the Sheffield 3 student flat development. 
The former Titanic Works was established as a steel manufacturing works prior to 1850, and was remodelled between 1850 and 1890. The principal retained structures date from this period and include a nationally rare crucible furnace with two end stacks. The site produced high-quality crucible steel used for the production of Sheffield famous cutlery and tools. The crucible furnaces were decommissioned in the 1950s, with the structures of two of them being demolished above ground level and access blocked. 
To find out more about the site take a look at our Project Pages and also the Hoyle Street Publication, which includes the former Titanic Works.

MAS Video

The Marine Antiquities Scheme has released a video (click to play below) as part of its ongoing outreach programme to promote the scheme. It briefly explains the process of recording finds and, importantly, takes viewers step-by-step through using the MAS app (available from Google Play and the App Store), including the GPS and camera functions. 
The MAS, funded by The Crown Estate, was launched three months ago and, since then specialists at Wessex Archaeology have researched over 70 finds. These finds, from 19th-century clay pipes and chevron beads to the remains of a Second World War landing craft, are available on the MAS database.
3148 A ‘cutty’ pipe c. 1850–1910 recently recorded in Cornwall through the MAS
Outreach continues to engage professional and community groups through a MAS presence at events such as CITiZAN’s second annual conference Turn the Tide, Birmingham’s dive show DIVE 2016 (22–23 October 2016), the Bournemouth Skipper Expo (28–29 October 2016) and the NAS and SCAPE Trust conference (5–6 November 2016).
Please visit us at any of these events to pick up a brochure and poster and see the MAS app in action.

Modelling the Reaper


As part of our continuing programme of support for the Scottish Fisheries Museum, Wessex Archaeology Scotland visited Mackays Boatbuilders, Arbroath on the 26 September 2016 when the Fifie class sailing herring drifter Reaper was on the slip having repairs completed to her hull. Our staff undertook a photogrammetric survey of Reaper similar to those completed on the other museum fleet boats as part of the Fleet-wide Conservation Management Plan. The resultant model of Reaper allows for an accurate view of the vessel’s shape and lines, as well as identifying any areas of twist in the hull. It has also produced some rather nifty images for the Museum of their flagship in all her glory. Wessex Archaeology Scotland is proud to continue to support the work of the Scottish Fisheries Museum in their conservation and preservation of vessels, artefacts and personal stories from the Scottish fishing industry.
The model of this vessel is now on our Sketchfab site abd can be viewed below.

Our Divers Investigate the Rooswijk

Two of our divers, Graham Scott and Paolo Croce, recently took part in a very productive international underwater survey of the protected wreck Rooswijk on the Goodwin Sands. This Dutch East India Company ship wrecked in 1739 en route from Texel, North Holland to the East Indies and so it was extremely appropriate to have the heritage agencies of both England and the Netherlands involved in this investigation of the Dutch wreck in British waters. 
During the middle of September, Rooswijk was investigated by an international team headed by Martijn Manders from the Maritime Programme of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands in liaison with Historic England. Together with divers from both sides of the North Sea, including our divers, the team took turns to measure and document the seabed remains. All up, the divers spent 20 hours underwater and took tens of measurements, hundreds of photographs and many videos to ensure that the wreck was well documented in its current condition.
Obviously, an underwater project of this nature attracted a lot of media attention. So in between measuring timbers and cannon, the divers were interviewed for BBC and ITV and the fieldwork was also covered in many newspapers.
The Rooswijk has been designated a protected wreck by Historic England because it is threatened by both human interference and environmental factors. The site has already been subjected to salvage with the removal of up to 10,000 silver coins. As is common for the area, a mobile sand bank periodically covers or buries parts or all of Rooswijk. For this reason, it is important to gain a better understanding of the wreck site as it is now, compare it to records from past archaeological investigations, to be better prepared for any changes in the future. In this way, Rooswijk will be preserved for Dutch and British licensed divers to visit in the future.

Charity Coffee Morning


Wessex Archaeology Salisbury team is delighted to have raised £257.41 for Macmillan on Friday 30 September. Many thanks to all who baked, donated and ate the cakes! 
To find out how to host your own Charity Coffee morning follow this link
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