Kitty Foster's blog

The Drumbeg Wreck

3139 Site visible from Drumbeg

The ‘Drumbeg wreck’ a 17th-18th-century shipwreck, was discovered by Ewen Mackay and Michael Errington while scallop diving near the village of Drumbeg in December 2011. Historic Environment Scotland (Historic Scotland at the time) commissioned Wessex Archaeology to survey and record the interesting remains in 2012. The site consists of two anchors and three concreted cannon! Underneath these artefacts Wessex Archaeology even discovered a well preserved section of the hull! 

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The wreck was recorded through traditional methods as well as extensive photogrammetry – one of the first times photogrammetry was used on such an extensive area underwater. 
 
Through historical research, documents dating to the 17th and 18th century relating to shipwrecks in the area were found. Both of the records are possible answers as to the real name and history of the ship that has been named the ‘Drumbeg wreck’. 
 
On the basis of its national importance the wreck was designated in 2013 by the Scottish Ministers as Scotland’s first Historic Marine Protected Area.
 
For more information, you can read the full report here or watch the video Wessex Archaeology created about the wreck!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Former Titanic Works, Sheffield

Public Access Open Day

On Friday 28 October, as part of this year’s Sheffield Design Week, Chris Breeden and Lucy Dawson, of the Wessex Sheffield office, will be providing tours around the former Titanic Works, Malinda Street/Hoyle Street, Sheffield, on behalf of Derwent Students, Sheffield 3 and BSRE.
 
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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 now 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. 
 
We will be conducting four 1 hour tours, all free, each accommodating up to six members of the public. The tours will include a tour of the listed building and all three cellars, with information about the steel making process, the history and development of the site and its significance within Sheffield. 
 
 
Please find further information and/or book your tickets here.
 
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. 
 
 
 

Longforth Farm, Somerset

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A Medieval Manor House Rediscovered 

We are delighted to announce that A Medieval Manor House Rediscovered – Excavations at Longforth Farm, Wellington, Somerset by Simon Flaherty, Phil Andrews and Matt Leivers is now available.
It is the latest in our Occasional Paper series and presents the results of excavations undertaken in 2012 and 2013 at Longforth Farm, Wellington, Somerset. Here, the excavations revealed limited evidence for prehistoric occupation including a Terminal Upper Palaeolithic blade, a few Mesolithic flints and a single Neolithic scraper. A Trevisker Ware vessel from a palaeochannel was associated with a deposit of burnt stone. Gullies and ditches dating to the Middle and Late Bronze Age appear to be the remains of an enclosure and associated boundaries. 
 
However, the main discovery was the remains of a previously unknown high status medieval building complex, thought to be a manor house. Although heavily robbed, it was possible to identify a hall, solar with garderobe and service wing. A forecourt, courtyard and at least one ancillary building as well as a possible detached kitchen were also revealed. Associated features included enclosures, pits and a fishpond.
 
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A relatively restricted range of artefacts were recovered but they included evidence for the fabric of the building – roof furniture and floor tiles. These together with the ceramics from the site suggest that occupation spanned the late 12th/13th century to the late 14th/early 15th century. Despite documentary research it has not been possible to identify the owners of this building or any records specifically relating to it. One possibility is that it belonged to the Bishops of Bath and Wells, perhaps being abandoned at the end of the 14th century when they moved their court to nearby Wellington, which had by then been established as a market town. 
 
 
 
 
 

Investigating the Wreck of a Schooner

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In 2015 Wessex Archaeology’s SAMPHIRE project team investigated a wreck located south of Kirkcudbright in Goat Well Bay. The remains consist of a wooden hull, complete from stem to stern with much of the lower hull still buried in the intertidal sands. The exposed parts of the wreck include the second and third futtock and the remaining stem and stern structure. The wreck was found by the Wessex Archaeology team after a tip off from Keith Armstrong-Clark, the local harbour master at Kirkcudbright.
 

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Identification of the wreck was extremely easy as the team found a plaque commemorating its wreck! Sometimes life as an archaeologist is easy! After confirming through some investigating that the wreck was indeed the Monrieth as stated on the plaque the team did some further investigation and discovered the Monrieth was a schooner built in Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway in 1876. It ran aground on 11 November 1900, with a cargo of stone bound for Kirkcudbright. Even though the wreck was already in the National Inventories list Wessex managed to recover further construction details of the vessel that can be added to the entry!
 
 
 
 
 

Scotland's Archaeology Strategy

3104 Photogrammetric orthomosaic of the Ardno wreck

Wessex Archaeology’s image from project SAMPHIRE was featured as the front page of Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy a new publication by the Scottish Strategic Archaeology Committee! The publication can be found here.
 

3106 Planning the intertidal wreck at Ardno

The image featured is of the Ardno wreck found in the intertidal zone near upper Loch Fyne. What remains is the keel to turn of the bilge of one side of the carvel built wooden vessel. Two previous images of the vessel were uncovered dating to the early 1900s showing the slow degradation of the vessel.
 
Investigation by Wessex Archaeology concluded that it was a broad beamed adaptation of the Zulu type vessel more suitable for use in sea lochs dated to around 1900 or later. Please see pages 52-54 of the 2015 SAMPHIRE report for further details on the wreck and the images!
 
 
 
 
 

Artefacts in the Classroom

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Earlier this week our Community & Education Officer was working with children from Damers First School, Dorchester teaching them about the archaeology found in and around their new school site in Poundbury. The school is relocating to Poundbury later in the academic year and invited Wessex Archaeology in to share with the children the history of the landscape, so that they were able to gain a better understanding of the past and develop a greater connection with the new site.

The discoveries Wessex Archaeology made were incorporated with the national curriculum to produce archaeology sessions for Year 3 and Year 4 students. The sessions were based around the finds from the excavation and artefacts were loaned from the Dorset County Museum enabling the children to handle actual objects from Poundbury. 
 
The archaeology sessions at Damers First School is a great example of how investigating objects can bring local history and broader historical topics to life, as well as develop students’ enquiry skills.
 
 
 
 
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Reburial, another moment in the story of Holy Trinity, Bradford on Avon

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We have now finished the on-site analysis of the large assemblage of late Saxon to 19th century remains, recovered during the major regeneration works at Holy Trinity, Bradford on Avon.
 

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The human remains and their associated artefacts were reinterred in the Holy Trinity churchyard on Friday 16 September 2016, when Rector Joanna Abecassis performed the re-committal in the presence of members of the local community (including those who had generously volunteered on the project), the renovation team, and WA staff Bruce Eaton (Project Manager), Lynn Hume (Supervisor) and Senior Osteoarchaeologist Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy
 
The carefully considered and thought-provoking words of the Rector referenced the major social, political and cultural changes experienced during the lifetimes of those being reburied, and fittingly included prayers from the Saxon, medieval and post-medieval periods. 
 
Many of those involved in the project have expressed their sense of privilege, at having had the opportunity to help to find out more about the past inhabitants of Bradford on Avon. 
 
The analytical work is still ongoing, with the results of further radiocarbon dating of the Saxon burials due within the next few months. Watch this space for further updates.
 
More information about the site can be found here:
 
 
 

Sheffield Welcomes New Environmental Archaeologist

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Wessex Archaeology is pleased to welcome Liz Chambers to our Sheffield office, where she will head up the newly formed environmental department. This is Liz’s second spell with Wessex having previously worked for the Salisbury office on several large-scale projects in the South-East. Liz has achieved Masters of Science in both Geoarchaeology and Environmental Archaeology and Paleoeconomy and has worked in archaeology for almost 20 years, primarily in environmental archaeology but also in the field. Liz’s main roles have included spells as a consultant and supervising and advising on environmental sampling and processing. We look forward to working with Liz and seeing the environmental team thrive. 
 
 
 

Belnahua's Abandoned Slate Quarries

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Wessex Archaeology is featured in the latest edition of Historic Scotland magazine during a survey of the now uninhabited island of Belnahua in the Firth of Lorn. The work is part of the Scottish Underwater Archaeological Services contract for Historic Environment Scotland (HES). 

Philip Robertson, HES’s marine expert, tasked the Wessex Archaeology dive team with exploring the abandoned slate quarries on the island. The team investigated the submerged parts of the quarry and recorded some exciting features! The site is now a scheduled monument on account of its national importance. 
 
 
 

Thanks to our friends at Bibby HydroMap…

...for helping our forthcoming investigation of the American Civil War blockade runner Lelia in Liverpool Bay.
 
Earlier this year Wessex Archaeology was asked by Historic England to undertake a survey of the wreck of this well-known vessel, lost on its maiden voyage in 1865 and subsequently found by diver Chris Michael in the 1990s. The Lelia, named after the wife of the Confederate officer on board who was to take over command when the ship arrived in Bermuda, Commander Arthur Sinclair, proved unequal to the weather it encountered as it sailed out of Liverpool, heavily laden with coal and stores for the voyage. Built and financed in Liverpool, the Lelia was part of a not so clandestine and highly risky trade between the supposedly neutral Britain and the southern states. They depended upon acquiring the latest British-built steamships to evade a Union Navy that was attempting to strangle the Confederate war machine by blockading its ports. Whilst small, fast ships such as the Lelia were ideal for the shallow approaches of the southern ports, taking them across the rough waters of the Atlantic and the Irish Sea wasn’t easy and a number were lost before they had even left British waters. 
 
The first stage in our investigation has involved working out what data is already available for the wreck. We have extensive contacts in the survey industry, so we were pleased to learn that Bibby HydroMap had recently trialled one of their latest bathymetry equipment and setups, which consisted of a Teledyne Reson SeaBat 7125 multibeam echo sounder in each hull (Dual head configuration with an 8 m separation), on the wreck and their Survey Manager, Gustav Pettersson, agreed to process this data for us. The result can be seen below – a highly detailed three dimensional representation of the current state of the wreck. Although much of the hull and superstructure of the partly buried wreck have disappeared, the outline of the four rectangular boilers can be seen in yellow and the flues that connected them to the funnels in red. Between each pair of boilers can be seen the engines, one of which is still connected to a paddle wheel. The other wheel is missing and the large dent that is visible in the part of the hull where it should be suggests that Chris Michael’s theory that the Lelia may have been hit by the anchor of one of the very large ships that use the anchorage that it lies in could be correct.
 
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The data that Bibby HydroMap has provided will now be used as a basic site plan of the wreck. This will enable our diving investigation to target key areas rather than having to survey the whole wreck site, saving time. Watch out for a future news report on what that investigation reveals.
 
 
 
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