Kitty Foster's blog

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. 

Introducing SESARF!


The South East Scotland Archaeological Research Framework (SESARF) is now under development covering Edinburgh City, Midlothian, East Lothian and the Scottish Borders. The Research Framework, being led by the South East Scotland Archaeology Partnership and project managed by Wessex Archaeology, will be designed to tie in with and complement the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF) which was established in 2012. 


SESARF is being developed in acknowledgement that regional research frameworks will make a useful contribution to archaeology across Scotland for anyone interested in obtaining a current overview of each region. As such SESARF will reflect the current state of knowledge in South East Scotland encompassing all time periods and specialised areas of interest and will also consider where there are gaps in the knowledge how we can move forward to fill these gaps and establish research agendas. 
To include as many viewpoints and stakeholders with an interest in the archaeology of South East Scotland as possible, a series of workshops will run throughout the course of the project, targeted at different sectors of the archaeological community. These workshops will be an opportunity to establish key themes and discuss the future direction of SESARF. The first workshops are being run at the end of October 2017 in Edinburgh.
You can find out more about the project, workshops and all things SESARF here.

Mystery Chesil Beach Shipwreck Designated Following Wessex Archaeology Fieldwork


We recently blogged about the German First World War submarine UC-70 and about how our survey work and advice helped Historic England to legally protect the wreck. However, this submarine is not the only nationally important shipwreck site to have been recently protected as a result of our work for Historic England.
In 2015 we undertook a survey of a much older and more mysterious wreck site off the infamous Chesil Beach in Dorset. The Shipwreck project, a Weymouth based community interest company that investigated the maritime heritage of the Dorset coast had found two groups of iron cannon just off the beach, about 200 m apart. We were tasked by Historic England to work with them to survey these sites and advise.
Chesil is a very dangerous and steep shingle beach miles long that is exposed to the full force of huge waves sweeping in from the Atlantic. These waves constantly alter the shape of the beach by churning up the shingle. Wooden ships caught in Lyme Bay in a storm and blown onto the beach are reputed to have disintegrated and been absorbed without trace into the top of the beach before the storm abated, only to be spat out again at the bottom of the beach during a storm years later. Ships are also reputed to have split in two as they hit the beach, with part of the vessel then drifting out and sinking a little further out.


The exposed nature of the beach and the fierce tides that run along it, also mean that conditions are rarely good enough for archaeologists to dive there and that these dives are very short, often no more than 30 minutes. As we rarely get more than two or three days to work on any site, this means that we have to use recording techniques that are very quick and efficient, without losing the accuracy and reliability that Historic England and the public expects. As the ‘project lead’, I decided that using traditional measured survey would be too slow and would not produce enough information in the time available. I therefore decided to use photogrammetry, 3D modelling using photographs, a technique that Wessex Archaeology has been at the forefront of pioneering in UK marine archaeology. I tasked my archaeologist colleague and underwater photographer Paolo Croce to photograph both sites using a camera mounted on a frame held at a constant distance from the seabed by suspending it beneath a buoy floating on the surface. This enabled him to take several hundred photographs during a single dive on each site. A second diver took sample measurements to ensure that the models were scaled correctly. I then processed these photographs overnight using photogrammetry software. When satisfied that the resulting models were accurate, I transferred them to a digital drawing app on my tablet and the resulting site plans to traditional waterproof permatrace drawing sheets. As a result, for both sites I was able to send an archaeological diver into the water the next day with a complete and accurate site plan. All that was left for this diver to do on each site was to examine objects in the models that we had identified as being key to the interpretation of the sites.


Both sites remain unidentified and somewhat mysterious. Although there are many recorded losses off Chesil, we are not convinced that these two sites are related to any of them. It may therefore be that the sites are the remains of ships whose losses there are unrecorded or for which records have disappeared. However, with the help of ordnance expert Charles Trollope, we can say certain things about them. One of the sites, the closest inshore, has very large and probably English cannon manufactured between 1675 and 1715. These would only have been carried as the armament of a large warship. As no unaccounted large warship losses can be associated with the site and the guns are of different lengths, the likelihood is that these guns were not armament and were instead being transported as land or naval guns to an English colony or naval base. This was by no means unusual. For example, more than 400 cannon were sent to Barbados alone between 1660 and 1815.  As well as the guns, we found large masses of cannonballs rusted together and the broken pieces of at least one gun. The latter led us to briefly consider the possibility that the site was a cargo of scrap iron that was inbound to England. However, the presence of the cannonballs suggested that this was not particularly likely. Furthermore, local rumour suggested that divers investigating at least one site with similar characteristics in the late 20th century had used explosives to break open large concretions which contained cannon. Unfortunately, the lack of records for these early investigations means that we are not able to positively link them with this site.


Thanks are very much due to Richard Bright-Paul and Grahame Knott of the Shipwreck Project, without whose work the investigations would not have been successful. Grahame has now moved on to found Deeper Dorset. We are also grateful to volunteer Royal Navy diver Oliver Penney and to archaeology student volunteers Lowri Roberts and Tom Harrison, both of whom have gone on to successfully work for Wessex Archaeology as marine archaeologists. 



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