Kitty Foster's blog

Finding Wessex West


Owen Watts has recently taken over the role of Finds Supervisor at Wessex Archaeology West. He graduated from Sheffield University in 2010 with a degree in Historical and Classical Archaeology and has worked with Wessex Archaeology as a field technician since 2014. Owen was brought in from the field initially to assist with the very large quantity of material being recovered from a Roman kiln site. Since then he has overseen the processing, marking, sorting and packaging of nearly half a ton of Roman ceramics, as well as a wide variety of artefacts of different periods from other sites around the region. 


Owen liaises with our many in-house and external finds specialists to ensure that they get the information needed to produce assessments and reports. Aside from all the pottery one of his favourite finds in recent weeks has been an intricate 4th-century enamel brooch (pictured) as well as a quantity of coins from the same era, which are in remarkable condition. In the future he's looking forward to expanding his knowledge of different artefacts as well as working with our conservation team to learn more about the specific techniques used. 

New Discoveries at Larkhill Camp

Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by Aspire Defence Capital Works (ADCW) on behalf of the Ministry of Defence to undertake an archaeological evaluation within part of Larkhill Camp, Wiltshire. The evaluation forms part of the wider, ongoing archaeological investigations which are being undertaken in support of the regional Army Basing Programme (ABP).  
The archaeological evaluation comprised of excavations within an area proposed for redevelopment to build a new sport pitch. The excavations revealed archaeological features cut into the natural chalk geology, ranging in date from the prehistoric period through to the Second World War.  The archaeological remains also included three prehistoric inhumation burials. 


Osteological assessment has revealed that the remains from the three graves comprised those of an infant, of about 3 years of age, a teenage male of around 15−17 years and an adult female aged between 35 and 50 years.  
The infant burial had been made in a grave cut through the lower fill of an existing ditch. Over time, the latter gradually silted up sealing the grave. Prehistoric pottery was found in the ditch fill which suggests the burial is also prehistoric.
The teenage male was of a robust build and his remains show no obvious signs of pathology. He was buried in a prone position – that is face down –  but his legs were bent up behind him with his feet resting up against the side of the grave some way above the level of his head. There are indications that his grave was relatively shallow, and the unusual position of his legs would have resulted in his feet lying close to the surface; most of his foot bones are missing and there is evidence suggestive of canid gnawing to some of the surviving foot bones. Wessex Archaeology has produced an interactive 3D model of the burial and a video based upon photogrammetry undertaken of the burial remains. 


If you are unable to view the 3d model please follow this link.


The adult female was laid in a flexed position and we know such a posture is typical of – though not exclusive to – burials made between 2400 to 1600 BC.  Osteological assessment has revealed that this individual would have suffered from back pain and stiffness indicated by to pathological changes evident in her spine. 
Other finds within the location of the proposed sports pitch include prehistoric pits and ditches, worked flint, five military air raid trenches dug in a zig-zag formation and the foundations of three military buildings thought to date from the Second World War.

New Arrival in Edinburgh


Recently Chris Swales has joined Wessex Archaeology’s Edinburgh office from their Sheffield office. Chris has moved to Scotland along with his wife who has taken up a position lecturing in the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee. Chris is looking forward to the challenge of expanding the range of terrestrial projects in Scotland and Northern England as well as getting to meet new faces in the Scottish heritage sector. This means many more exciting terrestrial projects will be added to our portfolio ‘beyond the wall’! 

The Edinburgh team have made Chris feel very welcome and he is expecting a bright future for terrestrial services in the north as well as learning a great deal more about Coastal & Marine Archaeology from his new colleagues.

Congresbury Kiln


During the final stages of our excavation of a Romano-British pottery kiln at Congresbury, North Somerset, along the route of Bristol Water’s new Southern Strategic Support Main pipeline, we were pleased to welcome on to site members of the Yatton, Congresbury, Claverham and Cleeve Archaeological Research Team (YCCCART). YCCCART have been carrying out their own research into the Roman pottery industry for several years and were excited to see the first kiln site discovered since the 1960s. As well as a tour of the site YCCCART members also had the opportunity to handle some of the artefacts which had been recovered.
YCCCART members were accompanied on their visit by Cat Lodge, Archaeologist at North Somerset Council, and Mel Barge, Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Historic England. Cat Lodge said;


As part of Bristol Water’s Southern Strategic Support Main scheme, a number of new archaeological discoveries have been made, including one of the most exciting − a Romano-British pottery kiln at the end of Venus Street in Congresbury.
This is the first of its type to be excavated in over 50 years, and what an example! It’s not just the kiln itself that’s remarkable, but the substantial quantities of Congresbury Grey ware amounting to over 400 kg in weight indicate that this site, along with other kilns in the area was part of a significant pottery industry in the Roman period. 
It’s really exciting to know that we can now work towards producing an enriched typology of Congresbury Grey ware based on the variety and amount of pottery found at this site, which is mostly waster material. Archaeologists will also potentially be able to re-evaluate the extent of trading of these vessels within the region and further afield.’
To find out more about the project follow this link.

AHI 2017 Discover Heritage Awards

3679 The Award for Excellence Winners - The Vyne, National Trust - with Bob Jones MBE and Bill Bevan (AHI)



We were delighted to be the official sponsor of the AHI 2017 Discover Heritage Awards and were impressed by the quality and range of interpretation projects shortlisted. The Association for Heritage Interpretation aims to promote excellence in the practice and provision of interpretation and to gain wider recognition of interpretation as a professional activity. The judging panel had an understandably difficult task in deciding the finalists and we offer our congratulations to all the winners. 

The overall winner with the AHI Award for Excellence was Lifting The Lid Off The Vyne, Hampshire from The National Trust. A list of all award winners and runners up can be found here and may we get in early with our best wishes to all of next year’s entries.


It's not just cake, there’s jam as well


Today our Salisbury office is hosting a cake sale as part of Macmillan’s Big Coffee morning raising funds for cancer research. We have had an overwhelming response with a fabulous display of cakes of all descriptions, jams, jellies, chutneys and other delights.


From Bones to Drones – Science in Archaeology


We are pleased to be collaborating with The University of Winchester for this year’s CBA Wessex Conference. Eminent speakers, from across the country, will talk about the wide range of scientific techniques used to find and investigate new sites using geo-archaeology, geophysics and drones. Also show-cased will be new methods in DNA and ancient disease, examination of children’s lives in the past, and chemical and isotope studies used in the understanding of human remains and artefacts. There will also be a selection of displays and interactive stalls, as well as Young Archaeologist Club (YAC) and activities for accompanied children.
Stalls and exhibits will include Archaeology Plus, Oxbow Books, Andante Travels, MOLA’s CITiZAN project, the Meon Valley Archaeology & Heritage Group and Crockerton pottery kiln wasters project.



Saturday 4th November 2017
9.30am – 5.15pm


Stripe Building, University of Winchester SO22 4NR
CBA Wessex member £25, Non-CBA Wessex member £35, Students £15, Parents of YAC attendees £15
Accompanied children under 16 FREE
For further information and to book/pay online visit the 
CBA Wessex website at:
Or contact Andy Manning to book

A Visit from Artist Kerry Lemon


We were delighted to welcome artist Kerry Lemon to our Salisbury office recently to share with her the findings from one of our excavations. 
Kerry said:
I have been commissioned by Studio Response on behalf of Barratt Homes to create a series of public artworks in Laverstock. These will be sited on the residential development Riverdown Park and the new adjoining country park. I am currently on the research phase of the project, learning all about the culture, history and landscape of the site and surrounding area. Part of this research was to meet with Wessex Archaeology and learn more about the fascinating history of the land. I am really inspired after my recent visit and excited for the next stage of the project − huge thanks to everyone at Wessex Archaeology for making my visit so enjoyable!
The archaeological works primarily focused on two key areas, the Barratt Homes/David Wilson Homes Bishopdown residential development to the north of Pearce Way, through their consultants CgMs Consulting, and the associated Wiltshire Council development of Greentrees Junior School immediately to the west, through their consultants Ridge & Partners LLP.

New Research Manager


Hi, my name is Bob Clarke and I’ve just joined the team as a Research Manager in Post-excavation. I originate from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, although I’ve been ‘down south’ for the last 34 years.
I have been involved in archaeology for over 20 years − primarily in Wiltshire but more recently across the South-West. In that time, I’ve filled a number of professional, educational and voluntary roles, a key one being site archaeologist at MoD Boscombe Down. The position encompassed a wide range of inputs; from consultation through to mitigation via watching briefs and full excavation. This ran alongside my other job, the Aviation Curriculum Managers post for the training centre on site. Working with military and aviation archaeology assisted my Doctoral thesis which investigated the role of secrecy in the landscape and introduced a new theoretical approach to the material culture encountered on once-secret sites. My first degree, in Education, focused on curriculum and course design in adult education − utilising archaeology courses delivered in the FE sector. Between 2000-2008 I was Lead Tutor for Archaeology at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Bath, designing and delivering first-year undergraduate courses. 
On top of that I am a member of the editorial team for the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, currently covering reviews and excavation and fieldwork reports, and was, until 2016, subject matter expert for Ex Historia, the in-house journal of the University of Exeter. I have received commissions to author for Tempus Publishing, The History Press and Amberley Publishing – recently exceeding 1 million words in print. The subjects are eclectic, but focus mainly on aspects of the archaeology of the 20th century. My research interests are 20th century landscapes of order and power; the material culture of conflict; aviation archaeology (I was an aircraft maintenance specialist for 30 years); the Wiltshire Landscape and making archaeology as accessible as possible to as many members of the population as possible. Beyond archaeology I spend time with my granddaughter, Martha (2.5 years old), and collect original Punk and New Wave vinyl – something of an obsession if I’m honest. I am a great believer in staff development and the promotion of heritage to all areas of the community and look forward to helping with both during my time at Wessex. 
By Bob Clarke, Research Manager

Crowdhill Axe

3659 Crowdhill axe with working drawing

This axe from Crowdhill near Eastleigh, Hampshire is 6000 years old (4000 BC),
a time when the Neolithic (New Stone Age) developed from the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age).
It is made in a style that is more characteristic of the Mesolithic period,
so may have been one of the last of this design before the Neolithic models were fully adopted. 
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