Latest News


Sherford New Community Open Day


Excavations are ongoing at the Sherford New Community site in Plymouth and our discoveries are attracting the attention of the media. We welcomed ITV West Country News onto the site last week to film the initial archaeological excavation on the site. Excitingly, the remains of three Romano-British roundhouses have been discovered and we have revealed over 600 postholes which may indicate Bronze Age settlement activity. 
Why not come and see the site and the archaeology already found on the site at our public open day


Saturday 3 October 2015
10:00am – 4:00pm
Displays and activities
Meet the archaeologists
Activities for children
Learn about interesting and unique evidence from the site
View and handle artefacts
Parking available
To find out more about the open day follow this link.

Pontefract Castle: Excavations are Go!


Construction work has begun at Pontefract Castle as part of the HLF-funded Key to the North Project, which will see the improvement of the site as a visitor attraction with the addition of two viewing platforms, a new visitor centre and a café. The works will also see the site taken off Historic England’s At Risk register, opening up of parts of the castle to the public for the first time since the end of the Civil War, including the Sally Port and the Swillington Tower, and the restoration of paths established in the Victorian period when the site was first used as a park.


Wessex Archaeology has been appointed by Wakefield Council to monitor the ground works being undertaken at this important Scheduled Ancient Monument. The work is expected to take around 16 months to complete and an archaeologist will be attendance to record any archaeological features uncovered and to collect any finds that are disturbed. Our work has already uncovered some interesting items, including later post-medieval pottery sherds, glass and a large number of clay pipe fragments. 
Additional funding has been provided by Historic England, Wakefield Council, the Wolfson Foundation and EPaC.
By Alexandra Grassam, Senior Consultant

Community Project at the Old Church of St Nicholas, Uphill

2553 Laser scanning in progress

Last week Wessex Archaeology ran a community project in conjunction with the Churches Conservation Trust at the Old Church of St Nicholas, Uphill. The project was organised to coincide with Heritage Open Days – a national four day event running which aims to open up some of our usually inaccessible heritage so that the public can come and view it.
The week involved a range of activities including metric survey of the church and churchyard, geophysics, test pitting within the nave and Polynomial Texture Mapping (PTM), a technique that uses photography to reveal faint inscriptions. The project saw the use of a Total Station, GPS, 2 Terrestrial Laser Scanners, a Ground Penetrating Radar and a Magnetometer. Staff from across the company, including the Built Heritage, Geomatics, Geophysics, Outreach and Fieldwork departments all came together to make it possible.
The event was widely publicised in the area and members of the public were encouraged to come along and take part in all of the activities. We had a great turn out with over 1000 people throughout the entire week! Much fun was had by all involved, staff and public. 
Some of the preliminary results of the week’s work are visible below.
Thanks to everyone that made it a great week.
2554 Left: image from within the Belfry, centre and right: cross section of the belfry showing the bell mechanism
2556 Samples of the laser scan data
2555 PTM images. Left: carvings on the exterior of the church. Right: a gravestone which was unreadable in normal light

Pottery Recognition Seminar


Members of CBA Wessex enjoyed a day at the Salisbury offices of Wessex Archaeology on Saturday 12 September 2015 learning about prehistoric and Roman pottery. The day was designed to give participants the chance to handle a wide range of pottery, focusing on central southern England and covering 4000 years, from the very earliest pottery found in this country during the Neolithic period, through to the end of the Roman period around AD 400.
There was also the opportunity to discuss some of the topics that exercise ceramic specialists, such as how and why did ceramic technology change, and what can pottery tell us about the sites we excavate, apart from the dating? The day was designed to appeal to anyone with at least an interest in ceramics, but not necessarily any experience; we hope that it provided information that the participants will be able to use in their future archaeological activities. A similar day on post-Roman pottery (Saxon to present day) is planned for November.

A Late 19th Century Cutlery


Wessex Archaeology has revealed the remains of a late 19th-century cutlery adjacent to the Porter Brook behind Sydney Street NCP car park in Sheffield. The work is in conjunction with Esh Construction on behalf of Sheffield City Council, and is being carried out in advance of the landscaping of the site and creation of a terraced garden adjacent to Porter Brook.


The works have revealed the basement of the grinding wheel building, with many internal features surviving, and a chimney base. The Commercial Directory of Sheffield names Jas. Deakin and Sons, Silversmiths and Joseph Smith and Sons, Timber Merchants as the site tenants in 1879. The adjacent saw mill is thought to have been demolished but the remains of it may yet appear during watching brief works. The site team also recorded some of Sheffield’s more recent past – photographing the graffiti on the retaining steel struts before their removal.

Barrows, Hoards and Settlements: Prehistoric Discoveries on EKA2


In 2010, the largest excavation in Britain took place on the Isle of Thanet in advance of construction of a new road, the East Kent Access Phase 2, providing improved access to Ramsgate and Sandwich. 
The route crossed three ‘landscape zones’, from the low lying Ebbsfleet peninsula − up to medieval times largely surrounded by water, to the Cliffsend spur overlooking Pegwell Bay, and finally up on to the high ground of the chalk ridge, with views cross the Wantsum Channel and beyond.
Prehistoric highlights among the numerous archaeological discoveries include 12 Early−Middle Bronze Age barrows, a cluster of Late Bronze Age−Early Iron Age metalwork hoards, and two major but very different Iron Age settlements.
This site will be presented by Phil Andrews at the Kent Conference this weekend. He will review, in particular, the chronological range and nature of the prehistoric discoveries, how their distribution might relate to the ‘landscape zones’, and consider the changes that took place over four millennia in this archaeologically rich island.
By Phil Andrews, Project Manager

Conservation Training Day

Last week Wessex Archaeology Conservator, Lynn Wootten gave a training day at their head office in Salisbury. The presentation gave staff the opportunity to learn about preservation and burial environments with some simple rules for retrieving and preserving fragile material. Factors affecting the survival of bone, metal, textile and organic matter as well as glass and stone were looked at and some case studies were examined. Ground conditions and the environments in which they are found have different effects on the artefacts and ecofacts and their preservation.


The day also included very useful training on the physical protection of finds being brought back from site or for storage in archives, which included looking at how to use packing material and closely controlled environments, including different types of silica gel and how this can be used not just to keep objects dry, but to keep them at their ‘ideal’ humidity. The insight into packing material and how the objects themselves can react or be affected by them as well as each other was fascinating.
Wessex Archaeology has often created short or long term displays of artefacts for clients or for their own events and open days and Lynn gave some tips and tricks for these displays as well as a reminder about the environments in which these artefacts are displayed.
She ended the day with some case studies of x-rays and the information that can come from them and the different features that can appear at different exposures – even the most unpromising looking lump may have an interesting object revealed within!
All in all it was a very interesting day and the staff from different teams all felt they’d learned a lot from such an informative and knowledgeable speaker. 
If you would like Lynn to provide this training day for your local group, society or archaeology team please contact Lynn for details
By Lorraine Mepham, Senior Manager

The Late Bronze Age−Middle Iron Age Mortuary Landscape at Cliffs End


Featured in the most recent edition of Current Archaeology, the extraordinary mortuary deposits revealed at Cliffs End Farm represent an internationally important assemblage of unusual size (for its date) and complexity. An interactive mosaic of mortuary rites are indicated, many associated with the theme of transformation, including; excarnation, manipulation, exposure and curation, charring and mixing with midden; human and animal sacrifice. 
Thanks to extensive radiocarbon and strontium/oxygen isotope analysis, a broad geographic and temporal range has been demonstrated. The location – overlooking Pegwell Bay − formed a ritual hub for peoples from northern and southern Europe, inter-acting and maintaining links with the local population across centuries from the Late Bronze Age (9− 11th century) to the Middle Iron Age (3rd−4th century). 
A further highlight of the site’s significance is illustrated by the fact that the number of Late Bronze Age individuals identified represents one-third of the total for the period known from Kent – another major difference being that most others of this date were cremated. 
But why here? Situated on a geographically significant sea-board boundary, projecting into the Channel, did Cliffs End represent a ‘triangulation point’ between this and distant but similarly located coastal communities with which it shared economic interests in which the roles of ritual and ‘politics’ remained firmly intertwined?
If you are interested in hearing more about Cliffs End and other sites in Kent why not come to the Celebrating Prehistoric Kent conference on 12 September at Greenwich University Medway Campus.
By Jacqueline McKinley, Senior Osteoarchaeologist

Shipwreck Project


Wessex Archaeology's Coastal & Marine team is currently helping the Shipwreck Project based in Weymouth, Dorset, to record and assess a shipwreck site off Chesil Beach. The work is being carried under contract to Historic England.
Last week, Wessex Archaeology’s diver archaeologist Paolo Croce took the photographs necessary to create this photogrammetry model of the site in just 30 minutes. Whereas previously this sort of 3D planning may have taken many hours of painstaking measurement to achieve, in suitable conditions it can now be carried out in a single dive using either still photography or video, offering clients outstanding value for money as well as a great result.
Wessex Archaeology’s Peta Knott spoke about about the use of photogrammetry to record cannon on the seabed at the Guns at Sea conference in Portsmouth at the weekend.
Graham Scott - Senior Archaeologist & Dive Superintendent

Kent Conference NOW FREE


The conference Celebrating Prehistoric Kent organised by Wessex Archaeology on 12th September 2015 will now be free!
With our commitment to the archaeology of the region Wessex Archaeology have decided to sponsor the whole event. That means you can attend the whole day conference FOR FREE. Come along and see some excellent speakers talk about some amazing sites you can also see displays of artefacts form the county.
If you have thought you might be interested but weren’t sure, this is the ideal opportunity.
To find out more about the event and see the full programme follow this link.
Although entry may be possible on the day, please reserve a space by contacting Brenda Kelly
Those who have already paid will receive a full refund!
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