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Last week our southern archaeological dive team joined up with Stew from our Bristol office for a day of diving at an inland dive site in Somerset. Training days like these are crucial to trial new equipment, test existing gear and make sure that our divers are practiced at working together before they take to the water for forthcoming commercial contracts.
New for this year was the use of a wireless buoy to track divers underwater using GPS, which proved to be cost-effective and efficient, compared to traditional methods. They also tested new SCUBA gear to extend their safety in deeper waters, and welcomed Stew into the team.
This summer Coastal & Marine’s Salisbury base will be quiet as the divers deploy on behalf of Historic England (formerly English Heritage) to fulfil the Archaeological Services in Relation to Marine Protection contract. They will be monitoring the wrecks of ships that they have visited before, and exploring some new sites including submarines and earlier marine sites.
Our northern dive team, based in Edinburgh, will also be out on the water this summer as part of the SAMPHIRE project, which engages with local communities to investigate the marine heritage of Scottish waters.
Further diving projects are also planned and with these and our other commercial services, including a new venture with Marine Ecological Services Ltd, 2015 looks like being a busy year.
Wessex Archaeology is kicking off a programme of staff training in photogrammetric survey. This technique utilises high-powered computer software to combine hundreds, or thousands, of photographs into a fully animated three dimensional model.
Photogrammetry ensures that not only is a highly accurate record made of our precious and finite archaeological resource, but we can also make these models available online so that everyone can explore the artefacts and sites investigated by our teams. By being able to rotate models on a computer screen, zoom in on certain features and apply filters, it is much easier to get a sense of the artefact.
Great strides have been made into the use of this technique for archaeology over the last few years and it is currently being implemented for both artefacts and whole sites as complex as entire shipwrecks, giving people access to heritage that is difficult to explore due to the practical limitation of getting underwater.
As part of our continued commitment to innovation in heritage recording and staff development, John McCarthy, Project Manager from our Edinburgh office, visited our Head Offices in Salisbury to deliver training to our Coastal & Marine, Heritage and Central Services teams on 23 April 2015.
Explore an interactive 3D model (below) of a find reported through The Crown Estate’s Offshore Renewables Protocol (ORPAD) on Sketchfab.
Wessex Archaeology is delighted to welcome Bruce Eaton as Project Manager, to the WA South Fieldwork team. Bruce comes to us with a wealth of archaeological experience, including a degree in Archaeology from Newcastle University.
Bruce worked for MoLA in their Bath office but in 2009 when the recession hit and MoLA closed the office, Bruce decided to go it alone as a freelance archaeologist. Since then, as well as freelance work, Bruce has worked for AC Archaeology as a Senior Project Officer. Although technically this will be his first ‘official’ foray into project management, running his own archaeological business for the last six years has given Bruce a great deal of very valuable project management experience, and he has developed many useful contacts throughout both the construction and heritage sectors.
Wessex Archaeology was well represented at the third annual Archaeology in Wiltshire conference on Saturday.
Organised by Wiltshire Museum and held in Devizes, the conference presented an overview of the archaeological work that has taken place in Wiltshire over the last year. Speakers included Melanie Pomeroy-Kellinger (Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service), Richard Osgood (founder of Operation Nightingale) and our very own Alistair Barclay and Phil Andrews alongside many other excellent speakers.
The event proved popular with almost 200 people in attendance. There were opportunities for socialising and networking over lunch and tea and a range of interesting stalls to peruse, including one for the Stonehenge and Avebury Learning and Outreach Group (SALOG) advertising volunteering opportunities in and around the World Heritage Site.
By Laura Joyner, Community & Education Officer
Wessex Archaeology Coastal & Marine team are delighted to partner with Marine Ecological Surveys Limited (MESL) in facilitating the launch of their Ecological Diving Services.
MESL, part of the Gardline family of companies, are experts in marine ecological consultancy, taking adaptive scientific approaches to investigate habitats and ecosystems offshore. They are joining our experienced commercial diving team to get closer to the marine life they are studying. This offers clients the marine ecological expertise of a trusted provider with WA Coastal & Marine's 15 years of experience as a diving contractor, and gives MESL access to our professional diving expertise, equipment and some innovative technology.
Euan McNeill, Director of Wessex Archaeology’s Coastal & Marine team says, ‘We are very pleased to lend our 15 years of commercial diving experience to assist MESL in their valuable ecological work. This represents a new direction for our team, and one which we strongly believe has cross-discipline applications and benefits for both Wessex Archaeology and MESL, but also for our clients in a diverse range of industries.’
The collaboration was launched at Ocean Business 15 – the largest ocean technology event of the year – held at Southampton Oceanography Centre. Diving projects will be co-ordinated for MESL by Dan Brutto and Delphine Coates. For more information on what we can offer to clients, visit our commercial services page.
Press release: http://www.seasurvey.co.uk/node/438
By Euan McNeill, Director, Coastal & Marine
If you are a project manager in infrastructure, renewables, energy or construction then this is the event for you!
Wessex Archaeology and our partner Thomson Ecology are organising a morning workshop to explore the BIM (Buildings Information Modelling) compatibility of ecology and archaeology for large construction projects.
This workshop will feature guest presentations by thinkBIM Ambassadors, including the Chair of thinkBIM Duncan Reed, exploring the future role of BIM in infrastructure. Chris Brayne from Wessex Archaeology and Tim Donoyou from Thomson Ecology will also speak about the ways in which archaeology and ecology can be integrated to benefit both the historic and natural environment and aid the project process. There will be ample time for questions and discussion, and opportunities throughout the workshop to network with other attendees.
This event is being held at the Royal Armouries, Leeds on Thursday 30 April. Attendance is free and a buffet lunch is included.
If you’re a BIM project manager and would like to book a place please email us.
I am part of a team from Wessex Archaeology undertaking a daunting endurance event – Trailwalker 2015 – raising money for the Gurkha Trust and Oxfam. The challenge involves walking 100km in 30 hours across the South Downs from Waterlooville in Hampshire to Brighton in East Sussex.
Thankfully, personal trainer Kent Jones has agreed to try and get me prepared for the event and as an incentive we are visiting Heritage sites on our long walks and we propose to blog about these journeys each week.
Our first walk was a 15 mile local walk taking some of the Medway Megaliths. These monuments are thought to be the remains of Neolithic Chambered Tombs clustered mostly north of Aylesford in the Medway Valley; one of the largest clusters of such monuments in Southern England outside Wiltshire.
The first we visited was ‘Little Kits Coty’ on the Medway Valley, a collapsed jumble of Sarsen stone in a field off Rochester Road north of Aylesford. The monument is also called the ‘Countless Stone’ because legend has it that when each time you count the stone you come up with a different answer, so I didn’t bother trying.
After eight miles on the relative flat it was time for the hills. The first of the hills took us past the White Horse Stone, a large Sarsen stone which could be the wall stone of a chambered tomb. All the rest has been removed. There is a local tradition that it is the burial place of Hengist and Horsa.
Kits Coty House is the most impressive of the Medway Megaliths with three remaining uprights and capstone and has excellent views; the site is well worth a visit not least because of the excellent views across the Medway valley!
For information on some recent research and results of exciting fieldwork by Paul Garwood of Birmingham University come along to the conference organised by staff at Wessex Archaeology on the 12 September 2015 where Paul will be speaking along with a number of other speakers.
And finally, a reminder to all even experienced hikers such as Kent Jones make the mistake of not wearing appropriate footwear!
Look out for a training update next week and more of our perambulations in Kent and please consider donating to these excellent causes.
Mark Williams, Regional Team Leader, London & South East
Wessex Archaeology and the Ilfracombe and North Devon Sub-Aqua Club (ILFSAC) have been awarded a research grant from the Honor Frost Foundation by the British Academy to conduct a geophysical survey of the wreck of the vessel South Australian.
Built in Sunderland in 1868 the South Australian was sister-ship to the City of Adelaide, one of only two clipper ships that survive today, the other being the Cutty Sark. The City of Adelaide was recently transported from Scotland to Port Adelaide, Australia, for conservation and display. Like that vessel, the South Australian was heavily involved in the emigrant trade between the UK and Australia. The wreck is therefore potentially of international significance.
The South Australian was later used as a cargo vessel and sank in bad weather in February 1889 in the Bristol Channel. The ship was on passage from Cardiff to Argentina laden with railway materials. In the late 1980s, members of ILFSAC discovered a mound of rails within the remains of a wooden shipwreck whilst investigating a fishing snag. After many years of diving they positively identified the wreck as the South Australian in 2005.
Keith Denby of ILFSAC said “I have dived the wreck site for nearly 30 years and as the story has slowly unfolded my fascination with it has grown. We have long wished to carry out a proper archaeological survey of the site but the conditions are too challenging for conventional plotting and measuring from a datum point, so the generosity of the Honor Frost Foundation will really open up a new phase to the history of the South Australian. It will also help to forge links with the City of Adelaide project in Australia and give members of ILFSAC the chance to learn to use some of the latest technology in underwater archaeological surveying.”
Wessex Archaeology will carry out a geophysical survey of the wreck site this summer, with ILFSAC’s help, in order to develop a site map to guide ILFSAC’s future work at the site. Keep an eye on this blog for further updates as the project progresses!
By Dr Stephanie Arnott, Senior Marine Geophysicist
Today our Coastal & Marine team waved goodbye to a precious find that has been carefully conserved at our Salisbury office over almost an entire decade.
The find – an impressive section of mammoth tusk – was reported in 2006 through the
Marine Aggregate Industry Protocol, which provides a safety net for any archaeological discoveries made during aggregate dredging work offshore.
Mick Hayward found the tusk at Purfleet Wharf in Essex after it toppled from the conveyor that would take it to the crusher (used to reduce oversize material) and certain oblivion! It comes from Mammuthus primigenius, which is more commonly known as the woolly mammoth.
Historic England, which in 2006 was called English Heritage, funded radiocarbon dating which revealed that this tusk is around 45,000 years old. This particular mammoth lived during a period in which Britain was home to Neanderthals, not modern man.
The tusk is going on display at the Head Office of the finders, Hanson Aggregates Marine Ltd. along with other finds reported through the Protocol.
By Gemma Ingason – Archaeologist Coastal & Marine
The daffodils are blooming, the lambs are gambolling and spring has sprung (even if the sun hasn’t put in an appearance yet!)
Celebrate Easter with Wessex Archaeology by joining in our seasonal game. Click on the images below and see if you can find our Easter egg hiding amongst them.
We’ll be back on Tuesday after the bank holiday weekend – Happy Easter!