Latest News


Artefacts in the Classroom


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.

Reburial, another moment in the story of Holy Trinity, Bradford on Avon


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.


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:

Public Open Day at Kings Gate, Amesbury


Last Saturday the public had a rare opportunity to come and see the excavations happening at Kings Gate, Amesbury. The public open day offered people the chance to learn about the ever growing story of Boscombe Down; see the site during excavation, view finds from the current and previous sites at Boscombe Down, and speak to archaeologists who are working there.
Many of the residents of Boscombe, local societies and children who attend the Amesbury Archer Primary School came to see the site; it was great to hear how proud the children are of their local area and heritage. Over 100 people attended the open day to engage with the landscape and learn about its history. Thank you to all staff involved in the event and all who attended.

Sheffield Welcomes New Environmental Archaeologist


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


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. 

Open Day at Sherford


We are pleased to announce our second archaeological open day at Sherford, Plymouth, Devon.


24 September 2016

10.00am to 4.00pm

Our team has been working on the site all year excavating some truly amazing archaeology including two Bronze Age round barrows, a prehistoric cemetery and a Romano-British settlement. Come and see the excavation of one of the barrows and learn all about our findings. Last year over 850 people came and enjoyed the open day. This year we there will be a huge amount to see and do including:
  • Displays and activities
  • Meet the archaeologists
  • Activities for children
  • Learn about fascinating evidence from the site 

Archaeology at Kings Gate

You are invited to attend a Public Open DayCome and see the recent archaeological works, which have revealed Iron Age roundhouses, granary stores and evidence of early prehistoric activity at Kings Gate, Amesbury.


17 September 2016
10am to 4pm
At the former Bloors construction compound
Postcode SP4 7GE
Please note: There is no parking available within the compound, Public parking is available at the adjacent Cricket Pavilion and nearby shops and roads, but please respect the local residents' drives and properties.
Sponsored by Wessex Archaeology and the Trussell Trust.

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.
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.

Corrina’s Nuffield Placement

Over the past four weeks I have had the amazing opportunity to carry out a work placement with the Geoarchaeology & Environmental Archaeology department. Previously knowing little about this area of archaeology, I have learnt an incredible amount about the work that is carried out here and I hope to keep learning more now that my placement is over.
In my first week I had the chance to do some processing with Tony; samples from around the head area (of an inhumation) produced fragments from a human skull on my first day! It was really interesting to learn about how samples with charcoal, seeds, and molluscs, amongst other things, can help to unlock the past. 
Before I started my main project I had a fantastic day down in the Finds department. I was able to get out a toothbrush and clean human bone, which was surprisingly relaxing! 


For the rest of my placement I was involved with the Geoarchaeology department, with Holly, who was incredibly supportive and taught me a lot of cool stuff. My project involved producing deposit models for the Battersea Channel Project, which is a collaboration between Historic England, Wessex and other archaeological units working in the Nine Elms area. I also had the chance to interpret borehole cores; getting my hands muddy was really fun! We found some cool items within the cores, including a hazelnut shell. 
I used Rockworks to log boreholes from BGS, before I created the deposit models. Creating these and interpreting the data made the hard work of entering all the borehole data into Rockworks worthwhile.
I have had the most amazing summer here; I feel as though I have contributed to important work, and I have learnt a lot of new information which I can’t stop sharing with my family and friends! Thank you to Wessex Archaeology, especially the Geoarchaeology and Environmental Archaeology department, for welcoming me, and to everybody who helped me throughout my project and provided support. I am going to miss being here.
By Corrina Begley

Aircraft Wing Discovered in Chichester Harbour


In July, an aircraft wing was reported through Fishing Industry Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries (FIPAD) in the mud of Chichester Harbour. In order to identify it, permission was recently granted by the Ministry of Defence for a photographic and recording survey. 

Due to the hazardous nature of the harbour mud, Adrian Karn (Deputy Harbour Master) with the assistance of Lawrence Smaller (Patrol Assistant), took Maddy Fowler and myself out to the site on one of Chichester Harbour Conservancy’s boats. They kindly supplied and assisted with a small pressure washer and mud boards. We were met at the site by the finder, Chris Berners-Price, who provided us with much appreciated tea and biscuits from his boat whilst we worked.
Using the pressure washer and brushes, Adrian and I made short work of cleaning off the wing while Maddy recorded the details. Meanwhile, Lawrence photographed another possible aircraft related feature further out on the mud for us. The wing was then photographed and recorded with the tide fast turning and the site gradually getting wetter. 


What we found was the badly damaged and truncated outer 3 m of a wing, with an aileron (French for ‘little wing’) and trim tab (these are the hinged flaps on the back edge of the wing, used to change direction) attached, and an Airborne-Surface-Vessel (ASV) radar aerial. These were identified as coming from a Lockheed Hudson, which possibly had been previously salvaged for an engine in the early 1970s. Research is ongoing into the identity of the plane as there are four or possibly five Hudsons reported as crashed in the area. What we do know from the wing remains, is that this Hudson was probably part of a Coastal Command squadron whose aircraft had been fitted with ASV for detecting surface vessels, in particular submarines; no other military service having ASV equipped Hudsons. The submarines would have been detected while running on the surface charging their batteries, or attempting to transit the narrow coastal waters of the Channel and North Sea, in the shortest possible time, under cover of darkness.
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