Latest News


NAS / SPMA Conference 2015


Last weekend, staff from the Coastal & Marine team had an inspirational time at the joint Nautical Archaeology Society and the Society for Post Medieval Archaeology Conference in Portsmouth. 
Apart from attending an amazing array of presentations from all around the globe, we also had a display in the break-out area. Copies of our last four Dredged Up newsletters were snapped up by the conference delegates, who were clearly interested to learn about artefacts discovered by the Marine Aggregate industry. A short video showed off our latest work from diving cannon sites off Weymouth to surveying intertidal hulks in North Kent and using photogrammetry to further analyse a wreck site in the Farne Islands. And as always, our Iona II Dive Trail project with Historic England proved a popular topic of conversation with attending archaeologists and wreck enthusiasts. 

2598 Phil Harding excavating HMS Colossus with ADU

President of the Nautical Archaeology Society and Wessex archaeologist Phil Harding popped by our display. He was amused to see footage of himself diving the Colossus wreck in 2000 with Time Team. The footage was digitised earlier in the year as part of our Archaeological Diving Unit cataloguing project for Historic England. 

A big thanks to the Nautical Archaeology Society and the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology for organising a great line-up of speakers and for restoring the traditional beer and skittles social event to reconnect with colleagues! 
By Peta Knott, Archaeologist

10th Anniversary Dredged Up now available

The 10th Anniversary edition of Dredged Up, the newsletter for the Marine Aggregate Industry Protocol, is now available online and in a wharf, tea room or dredging vessel near you! The 17th issue of Dredged Up celebrates 10 years of archaeological finds being reported through the Protocol with key participants of the Implementation Team reminiscing over their favourite dredging finds, which range from prehistoric animal remains to World War II aircraft parts.
This edition of the newsletter also features the 3-D recording and examination of an artefact that always proves a favourite on wharf awareness visits. It is remarkable how this delicate ceramic relish pot (CEMEX_0207) came to be underwater off the Isle of Wight sometime in the early 19th century and then survived being dredged up in the early 21st century. Graham Singleton at Cemex’s Portslade Wharf, East Sussex spotted and reported it in March 2009 before sending it to Wessex for further research, where it has become a key artefact in the Protocol Awareness collection. 
We recently revisited this find to learn more about it and share it with a wider audience. Now, courtesy of a sixth-form work experience student, Philippa Murrison, this pale blue earthenware pot with polychrome transfer decoration, can be admired by people throughout cyberspace.

19th-century Relish Dish with Napoleonic scene by Wessex Archaeology on Sketchfab

The relish pot has been recorded by multi-image photogrammetry and turned into a 3-D model which can be rotated and zoomed into at the viewer’s will. This also allows researchers to examine the find in more detail without handling it which can lead to damage. 
Learn about this remarkable dredging find and more in the latest Dredged Up Newsletter (Issue 17) follow this link

Volunteers Process Polish 303 Squadron Hurricane


Volunteers at Wessex Archaeology have recently finished processing finds from the Hurricane P3700 of 303 Squadron crash site at Saddlescombe Farm, West Sussex. The aircraft finds were given to Wessex Archaeology to process by Richard Osgood, Senior Archaeologist for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation
The crash site was excavated as part of Operation Nightingale by a team of archaeologists and historians supported by Polish and British veterans of foreign missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Polish Embassy and Polish MOD have played an important role in this project as the aircraft was part of the 303 Polish Squadron. 
Hurricane P3700 (RF * E) of 303 (Polish) Squadron was shot down on 9 September 1940 in the Battle of Britain, following air combat with the Luftwaffe over Beachy Head. Its pilot Sgt Kazimierz Wunsche bailed out successfully though suffered serious burns. Sgt Wunsche’s daughter Grazyna and granddaughter Joanna were both present at the dig site during recovery of the aircraft. If you wish to see a video about the recovery of the aircraft please follow this link.
The aircraft’s remains will eventually be displayed at the Polish Museum in RAF Northolt, where the 303 Squadron was stationed during the Battle of Britain.

Successful survey of the South Australian

2591 Moulded wineglass from the wreck site

Back in the summer, Wessex Archaeology carried out a geophysical survey of the wreck of the South Australian. The report has been finalised and is now available to all from the Archaeology Data Service here.
The work was funded by a grant awarded from the Honor Frost Foundation by the British Academy. The survey was undertaken for the Ilfracombe and North Devon Sub-Aqua Club (ILFSAC), with the objective of producing a site plan of the wreck site to guide ILFSAC’s future work at the site. Members of ILFSAC have been diving the wreck site since the late 1980s and positively identified the wreck as the South Australian in 2005.
Built in 1868 in Sunderland, the South Australian sank in bad weather in February 1889 in the Bristol Channel, to the north-east of the island of Lundy. The vessel was a clipper ship, similar to the Cutty Sark, and was involved with the emigrant trade between the UK and Australia along with her sister ship the City of Adelaide (now in Port Adelaide, Australia). Later on, the South Australian was used as a cargo vessel and it was on a passage from Cardiff to Argentina transporting railway lines and fish plates (metal plates used to join the ends of two rails together) that the vessel sank.
The geophysical survey was conducted aboard ILFSAC’s dive boat Neptune on the 23 July 2015 by Stephanie Arnott and Laura Andrews of Wessex Archaeology.  They were ably assisted by Keith Denby, Shaun Galliver, Piers Biddle and Richard Howell, all of ILFSAC. Sidescan sonar data were collected over the wreck site in an area measuring 200 m x 200 m.
2589 Left: ILFSAC diver on the rail stack Right: Acquiring data
The bulk of the wreck site consists of a stack of railway lines, clearly visible in the geophysical data. The hull has collapsed and little now remains of the vessel. A large scour extends to the west of the wreck site. Adjacent to the rail stack is a debris field containing parts of the wooden hull. In the geophysical data a number of individual items of debris are seen. The majority of these features are not known to the divers and will provide targets for future investigations.
2590 Sidescan sonar image of the wreck site
The site plan produced will be edited and new information added as it becomes available. All features seen in the geophysical data are indicated on the plan along with the approximate positions of items found by the divers, where these are known. Some objects discovered by the divers, such as two anchors, do not have accurate locations associated with them and these will need to be dived again, related to the objects nearby and then added to the plan.
The results of this successful collaboration between Wessex Archaeology and ILFSAC will support ILFSAC’s aims to inform local communities about the maritime heritage on their doorstep and provide information for visitors to Lundy about the wreck of the South Australian. In addition, ILFSAC will be in contact with the Maritime Museum in Adelaide to exchange information that will aid both groups in understanding and preserving the history of both the South Australian and the City of Adelaide.

North Ridge Community School Anglo-Saxon Day

On October 20th, Wessex Archaeology North's Jess Irwin and Alix Sperr visited the North Ridge Community School, in Adwick-le-Street, Doncaster, to help it celebrate its links with the Anglo-Saxons who used live in this part of Yorkshire. North Ridge Community School caters for pupils with severe learning difficulties, with some pupils having additional needs. The school intake spans preschool up to the sixth form (aged 3 to 19) and it currently has around 120 pupils. 
The present school was built in 2008, and an archaeological excavation undertaken prior to its construction identified a small Anglo-Saxon cemetery, dating to the late 7th to late 8th century. So the School invited Wessex Archaeology along to help bring the period to life. All the pupils had the chance to take part in a range of activities, including pottery making, handling Anglo-Saxon objects, exploring Anglo-Saxon houses, dressing up and discovering what Anglo-Saxon graves looked like. There was also an opportunity to have a go at excavating real archaeological finds from a sand pit. 
For more information about Wessex Archaeology's Community, Education and Outreach projects and the services we can offer, please click here or email
By Alexandra Grassam, Senior Heritage Consultant

Special Commendation for the Iona II Dive Trail


Last night, the Iona II Dive Trail was honoured at the Association for Heritage Interpretation 2015 Awards. The 19th century paddle steamer Iona II is a protected wreck lying off the east coast of Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel where she foundered after setting sail to assist in the American Civil War. 
The project was awarded ‘Runner Up with Special Mention from the Judging Panel’ in the Interpretation for a Target Audience category. There was stiff competition in this category and the other shortlisted project was Light Fever, at Fort Nelson in Portsmouth, which teaches autistic young people to express themselves through recorded light graffiti. The category was won by the Roman Medicine Roadshow which uses ancient medicine and health as a talking point for current issues more relevant for their target audience of young people from socio-economically deprived areas.
Congratulations must go to the many people that contributed to the Iona II Dive Trail. It would not have been a success without the input of the diving community and charter boat operators, many of whom are very familiar with the wreck. Thanks go in particular to the divers from Ilfracombe and North Devon Sub-Aqua Club, Severnside Sub Aqua Club and Bristol Channel Divers, who tested the dive trail. Divers from Potters Bar Sub Aqua Club and Appledore Sub-Aqua club also contributed their ideas and photographs. Local charter operators, Clovelly Charters, Lundy Charters and Lundy Diving are thanked for their advice and assistance with running the test dives.
The contributions and assistance of Beccy MacDonald, the Lundy Warden, and Derek Green, Lundy Manager at Landmark Trust, are gratefully acknowledged. Thanks are also extended to Robert Irving and Keith Hiscock for providing information and images of the beautiful local marine life, to Alan Mildren of Marine Vision Studios for his brilliant short film about the dive trail, to the following groups who also assisted with the project: Lundy Field Society, Marine Conservation Society, McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Natural England, Seasearch and InHouse Encapsulation; and not least to the staff at Historic England for commissioning the dive trail on this protected wreck.
The Wessex Archaeology drawing office did an amazing job on the interpretation materials design work, and Victoria Cooper, formerly of Wessex Archaeology, kept everything on the straight and narrow managing the project. 
Due to the enthusiasm and generosity of all the people and organisations above, I had an enjoyable job of putting together their ideas, information and images into the multi-layered and participatory interpretation scheme that is the commended Iona II Dive Trail. Now there is even more reason to dive this protected wreck next dive season! 
Peta Knott, Marine Archaeologist

Great North Museum - Roman artefact scans



We have now posted our second video demonstrating the results of 3D scanning of Roman objects. This work has been carried out in partnership with Newcastle University and involves the digital capture of objects relating to the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site, one of Britain's most important archaeological monuments.
In contrast to our previous video of large monument scans, this video shows 3D scans at the other end of the scale, small objects of prestige and of everyday life in Roman Britain. 
These artefacts are also from the collection of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle, housed within the Great North Museum. They were scanned over the course of a single day with the help of Faro, who generously provided us with their industry-leading hardware, capable of capturing incredible high detail at a small scale. As with our monument scans this work will also feed into the NU Digital Heritage project (
For more information on the previous monument scans see our series of blog posts.
To find out more about our laser scanning services follow this link.

Thames Archaeology Day at Southend Museum


Senior Archaeologist Graham Scott of Wessex Archaeology gave a presentation at Southend Museums’ Thames Archaeology Day on Saturday 17 October 2015, supporting the impressive work being done by the museum to present the results of archaeological work in the Thames Estuary to the public.
Graham gave a presentation on the maritime archaeological work we have done in advance of and during the construction of the new London Gateway Port. This massive archaeological project, carried out for the port developers between 2001 and 2014 involved the investigation of hundreds of wrecks and geophysical anomalies in the path of the port’s approach channel, which stretches from the port itself at Stanford-le-Hope in Essex over 60 miles to the edge of the Southern North Sea off Harwich.
The photograph shows a deadeye recovered by us during work for London Gateway on the wreck of Charles II’s warship, the London, lost as a result of the accidental explosion of the ship’s magazine as it was being sailed out of the Medway in 1665 during the Dutch Wars. The work carried out for London Gateway helped bring a forgotten wreck back to life and kicked-off a process of investigation that has culminated in the excavation of part of this remarkable site. 
However, not all of the sites investigated were so old or famous. As the entire seabed within a wide strip in and around the new channel was investigated, the work has allowed us to investigate ‘ordinary’ boats and ships as well as the extraordinary. In addition, London Gateway has provided the first extensive account of maritime archaeology in the Thames that is based upon actual physical archaeological remains on the seabed of the Thames Estuary, rather than from its margins or hinterland or upper reaches. The project has also had a major role in pioneering the investigative and management methods now routinely used to mitigate the effects of port and offshore development upon our shared maritime heritage. 
To fnd out more about this project follow this link
To purchase the book follow this link

The Sheffield Team Expands

2583 Owen Batchelor, Peter Noble, Milica Rajic and Paula Whitaker

Following a successful recruitment drive we are pleased to welcome three new project officers and a supervisor to the Sheffield team
Peter Noble has more than 20 years’ experience, much of which was gained working in Ireland and the north-west. Milica Rajik has worked as a commercial archaeologist since 1999 and as well as running infrastructure projects in Ireland Mili is an experienced post-excavation manager and finds specialist. Paula Whitaker also has over 15 years’ experience working throughout Britain, and is Education Officer and a trustee of the Mellor Archaeological Trust – a local community group. Last, but not least, Owen Batchelor joins us as a supervisor with a diverse portfolio of projects in Britain, Canada and Australia.  
We also welcome 30 new site assistants to the Sheffield team, who are currently deployed on large-scale infrastructure and energy projects in Greater Manchester, North Wales, East Anglia and Humberside. To further strengthen our place as the market leader in the north we hope to add a new manager and additional support staff in the following months. With our new additions the Sheffield team is almost 90 strong; we wish all our new staff a warm welcome and look forward to working with you all over the following year – exciting times at Wessex North!

Roman Archaeology Workshop


This week I visited the children in Year 3 at St James’ School, Bournemouth, to share with them how we use archaeology to learn about the Romans, their topic for this half-term. We started with a presentation to show the types of artefacts that archaeologists find on Romano-British sites and what these tell us about the people who used them. We looked at the changes that the Romans brought to Britain including new styles of building; different types of food and drink, and the way they were prepared and served. The children also learnt about a large-scale pottery industry that was in operation around the Poole Harbour and Wareham area. They asked lots of interesting questions, including how we actually know that something comes from the Roman period. 

It was then time for some activities and they had the opportunity to try to identify some of the tile types they had seen on the slides (the tegulae and imbrices from Roman roofs and box-flue tiles from a hypocaust) and make a mosaic out of tesserae. They divided Roman pottery into different types and then counted and weighed the sherds. They became archaeological detectives, describing a range of replica objects and trying to decide what they would have been used for, and had fun dressing up. The object that provoked the most interest? The ear scoop!
To find out more about school workshops visit our education page.
By Grace Jones, Archaeologist/Finds Specialist
Syndicate content