Kitty Foster's blog

Winterbourne Medieval Barn

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In April 2017 Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by West Waddy ADP on behalf of the Winterbourne Medieval Barn Trust to undertake archaeological investigations in the grounds surrounding the medieval Court Farm Barn. 
 
Geophysical survey had suggested the presence of a moat ditch. Three trenches to the south of the barn were located to target this anomaly, with a fourth trench positioned closer to the barn to investigate any related structures. Three test pits were also hand-excavated to the north of the barn to investigate standing wall footings and related stratigraphy.
 
Whilst no evidence for a moat was revealed, investigations found intact medieval soil horizons, with ditches both contemporary and later in date than the 14th-century barn, as well as 18th- and 19th-century stone drains.
 
For more information on the site, follow this link to the project page.
 
By Tracey Smith
 
 

'Hats and vests’ St Thomas’s Christmas Tree Festival

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Wessie the fairy sits atop our health and safety themed tree ‘Hats and Vests’ (number 9) in the St Thomas’s Church Christmas Tree Festival in Salisbury. The Festival opens today and runs until 10 December.
 
For further information visit www.stthomassalisbury.co.uk
 
By Sue Johnson, Librarian 
 
 

New Senior Geoarchaeologist

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Hi, my name is Andy Shaw and I’ve just joined the team as a Senior Geoarchaeologist. I am a specialist in Pleistocene sedimentology and Palaeolithic archaeology.
 
I have been involved in researching the archaeology of our earliest ancestors (in particular Neanderthals) for 16 years, both through academic and commercial investigations. This has involved an undergraduate degree at the University of Durham, an MA at the University of Southampton and a PhD back at Durham. I have carried out studies in Britain, northern Europe and the Near East. 
 
Since completing my PhD (in 2008) I have been employed as a doctoral researcher on two projects; one investigating the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic of Syria and Lebanon, and the other the early Neanderthal archaeology of La Cotte de St Brelade, Jersey and (what is now) the English Channel.  The latter is ongoing through the Ice Age Island Project and the La Manche Prehistoric research group. Since 2011, I have been employed as a specialist in Pleistocene geoarchaeology on commercial contracting projects and have taught university courses on reconstructing Pleistocene landscapes and environments, and human behavioural evolution. 
 
My work focuses on the unique issues of investigating the Pleistocene geoarchaeological record, spanning as it does more than a million years. How we tackle such deep-time scales and use snap shots of information (archaeological, sedimentological, paleoenvironmental, chronological etc.) to reconstruct human engagement with the hugely varied landscapes and changing glacial-interglacial environments of the Pleistocene, is a challenge that continues to excite.
 
Beyond archaeology, I spend time with my daughter, Freya (6 years old) who, with two parents that study the Palaeolithic and six years of experience of Pleistocene fieldwork, has herself developed a wide knowledge base on the subject. 
 
 
 
 

Larkhill Nominated for Rescue Project of the Year

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We are delighted to announce that our Larkhill SFA project has been nominated for Rescue Project of the Year in the 2018 Current Archaeology Awards.
 
The Ministry of Defence earmarked land at Larkhill for new housing as part of the Army Basing Programme. Defence Infrastructure Organisation and its consultants WYG employed Wessex Archaeology to investigate the archaeological potential of the area − previously thought to be free of significant archaeological remains − before building work began.
 
Excavation revealed an Early Neolithic causewayed enclosure, a hengiform monument surrounded by 14 postholes, Beaker inhumation burials, a Middle Bronze Age cremation cemetery, a very small ring-ditch, and the extensive remains of military practice trench systems, mainly from World War I.
 
The Larkhill excavations will prompt a re-think on the development of the World Heritage Site and add to our understanding of the funerary/ceremonial/social landscape of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. In a very real sense, the WWI archaeology links to how 21st century soldiers and their families strive to protect our collective identity... putting service family homes there is hugely appropriate. 
 
The partnership with our client WYG has allowed for innovative and effective solutions throughout the lifecycle of the project and for me this nomination (Wessex Archaeology and WYG) is an opportunity to celebrate our effectiveness as a team and, our ability to mesh coherently within a multi-disciplinary (and often challenging) environment. 
 

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Voting is open from now until 5 February, and the winners will be announced at the Current Archaeology Live! 2018 conference, held at the University of London's Senate House on 23-24 February.
 
Follow this link to place your vote!
 
 
 
 

Wessie the fairy prepares for St Thomas’s Christmas Tree Festival

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Wessie the fairy tries her PPE for size as she prepares to take part in the WA entry for this year's Christmas Tree Festival at St Thomas's church, Salisbury.
 
See the finished tree at the church December 5-10.
Further information: www.stthomassalisbury.co.uk
 
By Sue Johnson, Librarian
 
 

South Yorkshire Archaeology Day 2017

3768 Image © of Greg Coley from SUAVE Aerial Photographers
 
Wessex Archaeology’s Phil Weston and Lucy Dawson were invited to talk at this year’s South Yorkshire Archaeology Day, which took place on Saturday 18 November in Sheffield. 
 
Phil set the ball rolling with his talk about our recent excavations at Rossington Inland Port, Doncaster. The excavations at Rossington targeted areas within a 125 hectare parcel of land, affording us the opportunity to really explore an agricultural Romano-British landscape, characterised by field boundaries, enclosures, trackways and areas of settlement and industrial activity. Our aim was to chart the development of the field system and trackways and to characterise the nature of the areas of settlement and industry. 
 

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Our excavations revealed roundhouses of 1st−2nd century date which probably had Iron Age antecedents; an enclosure, truncated by the railway, that, given the large assemblage of 2nd−3rd-century pottery, had clearly been the focus of domestic settlement as well as producing and working lead; and, the remains of a large enclosure within which were a corn dryer and the bases of 19 ovens or kilns. Several fragments of quernstone were recovered from the enclosure suggesting crop processing, again dating to the 2nd−3rd centuries. 
 
In the afternoon Lucy presented the results of recent works carried out by the built heritage team at Ardsley House, Barnsley. Ardsley House was built by Richard Micklethwait in 1773, with subsequent additions through the 19th century, creating a very comfortable country house. The house was sold in the late 1960s, and refurbished and extended to create a hotel which opened in the early 1970s. Continued extension and refurbishment works at the hotel throughout the 1980s and 1990s meant further damage, unfortunately, was inflicted on the historic fabric of the former house. 
 

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The team produced an archaeological assessment and building appraisal to accompany the client’s planning application for demolition and redevelopment of the site. Planning permission for the scheme at the site was approved with archaeological conditions. The team then went back to carry out the mitigation works in the form of historic building recording to a Historic England Level 3−4, and subsequent watching brief during the soft strip and demolition works. The recording works included detailed laser scanning and photogrammetry of rooms where historic plasterwork had been retained. 
 
The day was a great success and we really enjoyed all the other speakers that contributed to the day. Many thanks to South Yorkshire Archaeology Service for asking us to participate; we’re already looking forward to next year, when we hope we’ll be able to partake again. 
 
 
 
 

Army Basing Programme Video

3767 The site at Larkhill, image captured by Rob Rawcliffe of FIDES Flare Media Ltd
 
Wessex Archaeology has created a video in partnership with Directorate Children & Young People to share the incredible archaeological discoveries that have been made on Salisbury Plain, since we first started work on the Army Basing Programme (ABP) sites in 2015. Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by WYG on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to carry out archaeological investigations on Salisbury Plain ahead of development for the Army Basing Programme (ABP). The video features Phil Harding, Matt Leivers, Jacqueline McKinley, Steve Thompson and the work of our Graphics team.
 
As well as the video we have updated our ABP webpages covering the work at Bulford, Larkhill and Tidworth.
 
To see the video and web pages follow this link.
 
 
 

How I learned to stop worrying and love archives

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Towering shelves of grey document cases…that’s what you are confronted by when you step into an archive room. They might seem like an impenetrable wall, but these unassuming boxes are the culmination of decades of archaeological experience. Each case contains the neatly filed work of a team of intrepid (and sometimes soggy) field archaeologists and post-excavation specialists. The straight lines, clean surfaces and ordered world of the archivist sometimes feels worlds apart from where much of this information is collected. But archiving is very much part of the archaeological process.
 
My name is Frances Ward and I have been archiving at Wessex Archaeology West for just over a year now. Before that I was part of the fieldwork team at Wessex Archaeology and have worked for other South West based commercial archaeology companies for the last seven years. I graduated from the University of Exeter in 2009 having done a BA Hons. Degree in Archaeology. During that time I was lucky enough to travel to Crete and Sri Lanka on post-excavation research trips. Those years cemented my interest in the relationship human beings have with their landscape and material culture. Also, handling things…all archaeologists like to find things…especially things that were last handled by someone centuries/millennia ago.
 
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So, after three years at University and seven years in fieldwork I joined the archives team. I didn’t realise when I first started the job how involved an archivist is with each project, from its inception right to its conclusion. At the beginning of each project I notify the relevant museum that fieldwork will be taking place. This allows them to prepare for the eventual deposition of finds and documents that make up a site archive. A line of communication is always open with museums so they can be kept informed if sites yield large quantities of finds or become more archaeologically significant than was initially expected. Then when the fieldwork and post-excavation work are completed I compile the records as specified in the relevant museum guidelines. A good analogy might be that an archivist’s work is the bread and the field and post-ex work are the filling in the sandwich that is commercial archaeology! If you like food based analogies.
 
Archiving is primarily about making all the work and results that fieldwork produces accessible to as many people as possible. Archives can be viewed in Museums but the finished reports are also available digitally online. Once projects are completed I enter the final details into the national OASIS database website, including pdf copies of reports. These will then get transferred into the ADS Library of Unpublished Fieldwork Reports where they are available to everyone…for free!
 
So, enjoy exploring all those archives.
 
 
 

Romano-British Land Management

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Archaeological Evaluation of land to the north of Weston-Super-Mare revealed evidence for land management in the Romano-British period. A sample taken from the fill of a gully was processed for the recovery of molluscs revealing the presence of only open country species (no aquatic snails) indicating that the ditch was open during a dry period. A single wheat grain of Triticum sp. may indicate crop production in the vicinity during the Romano-British period.

Later alluvial clay build-up suggests intermittent flooding and re-drying of land surfaces until the post-medieval period when extensive reclamation work drained the Marsh.

To find out more about this site please follow this link
 
By Tracey Smith
 
 

The National Temperance Hospital, London: Secrets revealed

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In May this year, Wessex Archaeology’s Built Heritage Team was commissioned to monitor the retrieval of a time capsule from below an existing foundation stone at the National Temperance Hospital site at Euston, London. 
 
The site is undergoing a programme of phased demolition as part of on-going HS2 works, and due to a previously unrecorded time capsule being found in another area of the site from beneath an earlier foundation stone, it was decided that the removal of this later stone would be under close archaeological supervision. 
 

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The foundation stone was laid in 1884 to mark the construction of the latest phase of extension to the Hospital. After the foundation stone was removed, a glass jar was recovered from a square recess cut into the underside of the stone. The well-sealed jar bore the makers’ mark of Cannington and Shaw of St Helens. The jar was then carefully packaged unopened and sent to MOLA Headland Infrastructure for conservation and assessment of the contents. 
 
Read about what was in the jar and more about the project here:
And watch the full story here:
 
 
 
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