Kitty Foster's blog

Harworth Colliery



During March 2015, the built heritage team carried out a programme of historic building recording of the 1920s Power House and 1989 Number 1 Winding Tower at the former Harworth Colliery, Nottinghamshire. The colliery at Harworth had been established in the early 20th century, but was mothballed in 2006, and it was announced in 2014 that the site would not reopen. The majority of the former buildings and ancillary structures on the colliery site had been demolished in recent years, but the Number 1 Winding Tower and Power House remained. Planning consent was granted for the demolition of the remaining buildings and for the redevelopment of the site by Harworth Estates with the construction of 996 residential properties.


Both the Power House and Number 1 Winding Tower were recorded by the built heritage team prior to their demolition. The Winding Tower, constructed in 1989, was a huge and important landmark in the area, visible from miles around, dominating the landscape. The Tower demonstrated ingenuity of design whereby it had to be constructed around and over the original headgear without interrupting the continuous coal winding operations, allowing the removal of the redundant gear and commissioning of the new tower, all during a three week holiday period. Its great structural advantage was its cellular design which provided walls of considerable strength to withstand suction from ventilation fans in upcast shafts, with the economy of materials. The Tower in fact received a commendation in the 1990 Civic Trust awards.
On Sunday 10 April 2016, the Tower was set for demolition, and with crowds of local people gathered to watch the iconic tower fall, the explosives weren’t enough to topple the tower. It wasn’t until the following day that the tower finally fell. Videos of the failed demolition can be viewed here
Our report and site archive will be deposited with Nottinghamshire Archives. 

Wessex Week Work Experience - Days 3-4

Day Three: 6.4.16

ALL DAY: Site meeting

A very early start and an hour and half long drive did originally put me off the idea, however the unique opportunity I was given to go to a site meeting with Sue was too enticing to pass up. Site meetings are something I had never considered before this week, the thought that contractors and construction workers and so on would have to meet together on a site to discuss what is happening never occurred to me before. There were so many different aspects to be considered that I wouldn’t think could impact a dig or construction. For example, the problem of where to place the spoil pile, which to me did not seem a huge problem at first, took up a lot of the negotiations. Whilst this trip tired me out, I felt it was important to see the business side of archaeology that not many people get to experience before having to do it for real. Luckily the meeting did not last all day, otherwise I may have needed a nap half way through, so when I got back from the office I did the mundane but important desk tasks that needed to be doing ie, uploading pictures and starting this blog. 

Day Four: 7.4.16

AM: Finds washing


In the morning Erica set me the task of washing miscellaneous bags of artefacts, the task was actually very therapeutic and relaxing. Seeing the lump of mud being transformed through several strokes of a toothbrush into a piece of animal bone or pottery was actually quite rewarding. The frequent trips to the sink were a bit of a nuisance but on the whole getting to handle artefacts made the heavy bowl of dirty water and the plastic gloves worth it. There something about doing monotonous tasks that allows you to relax and be in your own little world. When I told my parents about being able to handle the artefacts and prepare them for analysis they are now keen to volunteer and have even joked about to coming to uni with me, I’d like to stress that they will definitely not be allowed to follow me to uni – without losing a daughter.



The reason that osteoarchaeology is in capitals is because this is my favourite specialist field in archaeology, especially human osteology, and I was so excited to have the afternoon with Kristen. After I’d had my well-deserved lunch after washing all morning, Kirsten took me into the reception to explain the human bones display (the display which I’ve been eyeing every time I sign in). She showed me how to identify male and female skeletons (through skull shape, hip shape and some diseases that have affected the bone) and how to roughly determine the age of the person when they died (bone fusing, teeth wear and some diseases that affected the bone). We can also tell the conditions the person lived in through their diseases and what they ate/malnutrition from their teeth and bones. The diseased evidence on the bones was rather gruesome but incredibly interesting, Kirsten told me how the diseases affected the bone and what assumptions we can make about the individual. Evidence of diseases/trauma on the bone include: TB, scurvy, rickets, bone cancer, fractured bones, wound heals, abbesses, DISH, and spinal diseases/wear. We then went to the finds lab and looked at an individual to see what we could tell about their (probably his) lifestyle. From the skull we decided that the skeleton was probably male, as there wasn’t much left of his pelvis we couldn’t use that as an indicator. He had: abscesses, muscle fusions, arthritis, and an oddly shaped bone that wasn’t clear where it belonged. I was then also briefly shown the colouring and computer system used for recording the skeletons, and also was showed some of the published works containing osteology – and I may be looking to purchase the Cliffs End Farm publication. Talking to Kirsten definitely helped me to see that osteology is the specialist field I am most interested in and I will hopefully pursue osteology later on despite it being highly competitive.
By Laura Slow

New Article on BIM


Wessex Archaeology’s latest Buildings Information Modelling (BIM) article is about to be published in May’s edition of BIM Today, but you can read it now here.
This article concludes a series by Chris Breeden and Damien Campbell-Bell from our Geomatics Team on the application of BIM in archaeological projects. In these articles we have looked at the opportunities for using BIM and the difficulties currently facing those who wish to implement it in a heritage context. 
This final article looks at the application of BIM to built heritage, which whilst more closely related to the common uses of BIM, still raises a number of challenges due to the unique requirements of heritage buildings.
You can find the previous articles in the August 2015, November 2015 and February 2016 issues of BIM Today here.

Wessex Week Work Experience - Days 1-2


For September 2016 I have applied to study Anthropology and Archaeology and struggling to decide between Southampton and Bournemouth was one of my main reasons for applying to Wessex Archaeology for a week’s work experience. As I’ve never had any chance to study either subject, I wanted to ensure that I had made the right decision. So here is my quite detailed diary of the week:


Day One: 4.4.16

AM: Office tour

I was greeted in the morning with my very own desk, which is the perfect start to any new working week, and was the shown around the office by Rachel Brown. Whilst being introduced to the building I was also able to vaguely be introduced to many staff members and their job roles. I was genuinely very surprised at the diversity of jobs here and the routes that allowed people to get there, to me the diversity and the sheer friendliness of everyone created a very welcoming environment. The idea that here there were jobs ranging from research to animation (and almost everything in-between), proved to me that with my degree I will not be limited to one type of job, this was comforting as I can now keep my options open before finally deciding what I want to do for the rest of my life.

PM: Seeing the sites


In the afternoon I was told that I had the opportunity to visit two local sites that are being excavated with Simon Cleggett. Whilst I can’t divulge anything about the sites, I can say that that afternoon cemented the idea that field work is definitely something to look forward to in my uni years. Whilst having a small moral panic I was corrected by Simon that archaeology is the best way to preserve the past and the only way to guard it from future damage. On the less philosophical side, at one site I visited I saw the way finds are recorded by the archaeologists before they are removed. I saw some rather acrobatic archaeologists trying to draw the artefacts without moving them but still seeing them from all angles, and I also saw GPS mapping equipment being used. This may have also been the most excited I’ve ever been to walk around a few muddy sites, and I feel super privileged to have been given this opportunity and I’m still trying to take in all the knowledge and excitement.


Day Two: 5.4.16

AM: Survey Skills

I had a very relaxed morning looking at mapping techniques with Roberta and I even got to play with some of the equipment I saw at the site yesterday afternoon (the GPS equipment specifically).  We looked at two programmes used by archaeologists to map the trenches dug by the archaeologists and looked at examples of laser scanning and aerial photography (whilst struggling with the filing system).  The key idea of using all of these techniques is to be able to place the sketches done by archaeologists at the sites, to then overlay them onto correct map placement using information from the GPS. The GPS was heavier than I imagined and was reasonably difficult to place right, I imagine if I was doing this for the first time with an actual delicate artefact then the morning may not have gone so well. 

PM: Marine Archaeology 


Even though I am terrified by the sea, my afternoon with the Marine archaeologists did make me feel more inclined to do some underwater archaeology.  To start off my afternoon I had to lace up my steel toe cap boots and go over to the storage unit and package up two marine artefacts ready to be sent off to a museum, under the watchful eye of Maddy Fowler. After we finished attempting to pack the rather large and heavy artefacts I was then given a very important and challenging task – laminating. Before I was left to do my laminating I thought that this would be a reasonably boring 15 or so minutes, it was actually surprisingly relaxing and made me feel oddly grown up. I was then taken back over to the storage unit with Peta to look at the diving equipment, and try on a few bits of equipment. Both the diving helmets were very uncomfortable, one felt very constricting and the other felt like I was in a fish bowl. The helmets originally terrified me but after Peta’s explanation of how the dives work, I actually found myself wishing to be able to go on a dive. We then trailed back and I was given a mini quiz on what the artefact was, I failed abysmally but I did enjoy inspecting the items, like a mammoth tooth and war artefacts. Whilst I am now more sold to the idea of deep sea diving for archaeology I think I’ll still stick to land digging.

By Laura Slow

Apprenticeships: Be Inspired


On Wednesday 2 March 2016 Wessex Archaeology’s Lucy Dawson and Jessica Tibber ran a stand at the popular business event ‘Apprenticeships: Be Inspired’ in Sheffield city centre; organised by Skills Made Easy, a programme funded by the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership. Over 750 school leavers and 60 businesses from across the South Yorkshire region were in attendance, including prominent national companies such as Amey, Keepmoat Homes, CITB, and TATA Steel. It was a chance to inspire this year’s school leavers and gauge future interest in the potential for Wessex Archaeology to start up an apprenticeship scheme of its own.
The event was a great success, with many visitors to the Wessex stand and a number of genuinely interested 16–18 year olds keen to embark on a career in the Heritage sector or archaeology specifically. It was particularly useful to be able to talk with the career advisors who accompanied the students, and answer their questions on what they should do when approached by a student who wants to be an archaeologist.

Historic Environment Fisheries Liaison Officer


My name is Alistair Byford-Bates and I am the new Historic Environment Fisheries Liaison Officer. I share my time between the Coastal & Marine department at Wessex Archaeology in Salisbury and the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority in Shoreham. My role is to relaunch and develop the Fishing Industries Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries, FIPAD for short.

I finished my MSc in Applied Sciences at Bournemouth University in 2012, having previously read for a BSc in Forensic and Archaeological Sciences there. Though formally a dairy farmer I have been a keen diver, instructor and mixed gas diver; participating in the Nautical Archaeological Society's training programme since 1994. Since leaving university I have worked in commercial archaeology on a range of different sites including Roman villa complexes, post-medieval cemeteries and urban sites.
In my first week of a steep learning curve I have jumped in a flooded quarry and righted life rafts as part of my personal survival training, had my HSE diving medical booked, done my induction to Wessex Archaeology, learnt how to process finds reported through the BMAPA and ORPAD protocols and started updating the literature and processes for the implementation of FIPAD. I have also written a short article on my role for Dredged Up, the bi-annual newsletter for the Marine Aggregate Industry. Having got married at the end of January, 2016 is starting to look like a busy year with lots of firsts and new things for me in the next few months.
My next step is to meet with local FIPAD contacts and start a meet and greet programme with the fishermen of Sussex, followed up by training and awareness courses. The outcome will hopefully be lots of new sites and artefacts reported, the recording of legacy finds, leading to the expansion of the Historic Environment Record and connecting the fishermen and the local communities to their shared heritage of the sea.


This two year project and post has been supported by a grant from the

Port and Harbour Development - Archaeology Guidance Document Released


Announcing the release of a useful guide for dealing with archaeology in port and harbour developments. The Assessment and Management of Marine Archaeology in Port and Harbour Development is now freely available to download from Historic England’s website
Historic England commissioned Wessex Archaeology to write this guidance document on planning and developing port and harbour facilities to assist any organisation or individual whether they are harbour owners or operators, developers or contractors, regulatory authorities, curators and archaeological contractors, who are involved in this process.
The industry was consulted and policy and legislation reviewed to create this practical advice on assessing the impact of port and harbour development in England upon the intertidal and marine historic environment. This guidance document promotes historic environment best practice to assist developers to secure consent for port and harbour development.

A Visit from Tedworth House


We were pleased to welcome a group of serving and veteran members of the Armed Services from Tedworth House to our Salisbury Office on Wednesday the 24 February. Tedworth House, a recovery centre run by Help for Heroes, is open to both serving and veteran members of the Armed Services who have suffered life changing injuries or illness whilst in service. 
The group who visited came to find out about archaeology and see some of the work that we do. Si Cleggett, Project Manager started the afternoon off with a fascinating talk about archaeology and cultural heritage which sparked some interesting discussion within the group. The group were then given insight into the work of our Osteoarchaeologist Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy. Kirsten explained how and why archaeological human bones are studied. Using various examples, she also demonstrated how certain conditions, trauma and wear-and-tear can affect the skeleton. 
It was an engaging afternoon for those who attended and a pleasure for Wessex to host.

Schools’ Science Event

On the 23 February 2016 Wessex Archaeology had the pleasure of attending the East Salisbury Primary School Cluster’s Science Day, at the Museum of Army Flying. Around 200 Year 5 and 6 students attended the event from seven of the schools in Salisbury. A number of local organisations which work in the field of science attended the event and ran workshops for the students. 

Rachel Brown, Community & Education Officer for Wessex Archaeology ran workshops which enabled the students to engage with some of the science involved in archaeology. The workshop run by Wessex had students investigating causes of bone decay through a hands-on activity; the activity had students assessing a range of bone finds which included sheep skulls and a mammoth’s bone.

2694 Causes of bone decay: microorganisms and warm temperatures
Rob Goller, Senior Graphics Officer created some fantastic cartoons which helped to make the topic more accessible and highly entertained the students.

My Week at WA London & South East


Hello my name is Alfred Nye and this is my blog about my work experience. Throughout the course of the week I have learnt many things including how to use CAD (Computer Aided Design). I was also taught basic office duties such as learning to use the printer, scanning documents so that they can be sent to a computer, and learning how to use the shredder. I really enjoyed my week there and would love to do it again.
When I arrived for my first day I was really nervous but my confidence grew over just a few hours because everyone there seemed nice and they didn’t mind if I got things wrong. Today I worked in reception, sorting files and learning basic office duties.
By my second day they had me on CAD. I was shown the basics such as drawing lines, erasing them and adding annotations. They allowed me to experiment on CAD and I even managed to create a 3D building over the time that I was there.
On Wednesday Jo and Marie took me on a site visit. I saw how geographical equipment is used when doing a landscape survey. I was even allowed to help; I plotted observation points and lines on a map.
On my fourth day I looked at how social media is presented within the Wessex Archaeology website, looking at its ease of accessibility, how is the company reposting points such as latest news and how is the information relayed to you – by pictures, text, and videos, through social media.
On Friday I spent my time processing the data collected from the site visit. I transferred it onto CAD along with maps of the site. I had to include a scale of the map, along with a North arrow. When that was done I completed all unfinished work I had started in the days before, until I had to go.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Wessex Archaeology and it has helped me to appreciate that archaeology isn’t all about walking across a muddy field. I have also learnt some useful skills in geography and have learnt some universal office skills.
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