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IfA conference

Wessex Archaeology was exceptionally well represented at this years’ Institute for Archaeologists’ conference Research in Practice in Glasgow.
 
 
At the ‘Creating Research Communities for Maritime Archaeology’ session, Peta Knott and John McCarthy spoke about recent projects that have involved community groups. Peta’s presentation outlined how English Heritage, Wessex Archaeology and Tyneside 114 British Sub Aqua Club can have worked successfully together, as demonstrated on the recent investigation of Gun Rocks wreck in the Farne Islands. John McCarthy spoke about Wessex Archaeology's very successful SAMPHIRE project building upon local maritime knowledge, augmenting it with archaeological techniques and then disseminating this new knowledge back to the local Scottish communities.
 
Andy Bicket added a welcome watery component to the otherwise very terrestrial session on ‘What’s new in British Archaeology – Prehistory’. He spoke about ongoing research in the area of submerged prehistory and working with the offshore industries that unearth these significant artefacts. Phil Andrews showed the diversity of Wessex’s work by presenting in the ‘What’s new in British Archaeology  Medieval’ session on the Longforth Farm excavations that have been taking place over the last few years. Not only did this project reveal a high status medieval building complex with excellent research potential, it also provided opportunities to share new discoveries with the almost 2000 people who visited the site in one open week and thousands more who accessed the project online.
 
Online access and sharing of information was a key feature of the Glasgow IfA conference with tweeting encouraged throughout the presentations as shown here - 

Open Weekend at Peter Symonds College

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On Saturday 29th March 2014 Wessex Archaeology (WA) supported Peter Symonds College in Winchester at their archaeology open weekend.
 
The college has been undertaking its own archaeological investigations, excavating a number of small test pits around the school field. The project, co-ordinated by Steve Jarvis, aims to give the students a chance to discover archaeology and learn a range of new skills.
 

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The open weekend provided local residents with the chance to view the excavation, take part in hands-on activities and speak to archaeologists from both WA and the society for Winchester archaeology and local history (WARG). The event was a huge success with over 120 visitors, and plans for next year’s project are already underway!
 
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ABC Wax, Hyde, Greater Manchester

1693 Bob Davis in action

Historic Building Recording 

The Wessex Archaeology Built Heritage Team has recently undertaken Historic Building Recording at the ABC Wax Print Works in Hyde, Greater Manchester. 
 
The site was originally developed in 1812 by the Ashton family, and called Newton Bank Print Works. The Works continued to expand and develop until its height during the mid-20th century. By 1966, Newton Bank Print Works was the only remaining wax print company in the UK. By 2007, various factors meant that all manufacturing ceased at the ABC Works, with the work and all machinery transferred to Ghana. The majority of the buildings across the site now stand empty. 
 
The team carried out an English Heritage Level 3 buildings survey of the site, recording the whole site in plan, producing sections through significant buildings and undertaking detailed photography, prior to redevelopment. 
 
1696 Former mercerising department, showing 19th-century fireproofing in the form of jack arches
 

Challenges & Opportunities

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Health & Safety Awareness on Archaeological Excavations

The Department of Archaeology and Anthropology University of Bristol hosted a Health & Safety Awareness on Archaeological Excavations day this week, and 3 staff members from Wessex Archaeology attended, Ian Phillips – Company Secretary (and Health & Safety Manager), Gareth Chaffey – Project Manager and Alan Spooner – Facilities Supervisor.
 
The management of Health & Safety on archaeological excavations can involve similar challenges to those found on construction sites. Three experienced practitioners from different vocational backgrounds gave some interesting and informative talks on;
 
  • Health & Safety in Archaeological Fieldwork in the HE Sector – Dr Stuart Prior, University of Bristol
  • Health & Safety in Commercial Archaeology – Andrew Townsend, Bristol and Regions Archaeological Services
  • Health & Safety in the Construction Industry – Howard Prosser, Industry H&S Specialist 
 
There was a useful workshop in the afternoon where those attending broke down into groups and discussed H&S issues in Archaeological Fieldwork, this produced some interesting results and provided some invaluable tips and guidance to the delegates in attendance.
 
It is envisaged that this event will become a regular occurrence and will prove influential in raising the profile of Health & Safety within Archaeology.
 
 

Sample Jackpot

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Nice objects aren’t just found in the field – from time to time something special pops up back in the laboratory too. This fine Early Bronze Age barbed and tanged flint arrowhead was recovered from a palaeoenvironmental sample taken from an interesting pit on a site near Salisbury earlier this year. The pit was Iron Age, and also contained Iron Age pottery, smashed quernstones, animal bone, and an inhumation burial. However, as well as the early arrowhead, it also contained well preserved Beaker pottery. These Early Bronze Age artefacts are likely to have been found locally and included deliberately in the pit, possibly to accompany the Iron Age burial.
 
The find was made by Tony Scothern (pictured).
 
 

Introducing Maria-Elena Calderón

1688 Maria-Elena Calderón

Wessex Archaeology is pleased to welcome Maria-Elena Calderón to the Built Heritage Team at the Sheffield Office. Maria-Elena was previously the holder of a HLF/IfA Workplace Training Placement in Historic Building Recording and Surveying based at Archaeological Services WYAS, where she gained invaluable experience in the process of recording a variety of buildings and complexes including Pontefract Castle. She was also involved in the Stockton Historic Buildings Project and the creation of HER records for locally listed buildings with Tees Archaeology. Beyond this Maria-Elena has several years’ fieldwork experience.
 
 

Volunteers Together at Stonehenge

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Thursday 10th April 2014 saw the latest Volunteers Together event take place at the new Stonehenge visitors’ centre. 
 
Volunteer Together events are organised by the members of the Stonehenge Learning & Outreach Co-ordination Group (English Heritage, National Trust, Salisbury Museum, Wiltshire Museum and Wessex Archaeology) as a way of thanking our many enthusiastic volunteers and sharing news from the World Heritage Site. 
 

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Thursday’s event featured updates from the World Heritage Site and Salisbury Museum’s new Wessex gallery, as well as an opportunity to network over tea and cake. The highlight was a chance to go behind the scenes at the Neolithic houses being constructed behind the visitors’ centre. Luke Winter from the Ancient Technology Centre guided us round the houses explaining construction methods and materials. Susan Greaney from English Heritage then described how the houses will be used as interactive learning zones once completed. 
Both the Stonehenge Learning & Outreach Co-ordination Group members, and the volunteers thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon, and are looking forward to the next event. 
 
 

Spring in the Air

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Last week, children from Shepherd’s Spring Pre-School Nursery visited an archaeological dig site.
 
The site, which is directly behind the nursery, has revealed several Iron Age features, a potential Roman road and an interesting cow burial. The children were guided round by our community & education officer and had the opportunity to speak to field staff whilst viewing the excavation and the finds.
 

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Staff from the nursery were delighted to have the opportunity to experience the archaeological investigations and were nearly as excited as the children!
 
This visit was organised with the kind permission of Abbey Developments through their consultants CgMs Consulting
 
 

The Historic Dockyard Chatham

We are working with the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust (CHDT) as part of the ‘Command of the Oceans’ project; a major £8.75m Heritage Lottery Fund/HCA funded project to improve the current visitor facilities and provide more access to some of the historic features that are currently hidden at the site.
 
For the first phase David Britchfield from WA and Nigel Howard from CHDT excavated five test trenches targeting the 18th century South Mast Pond.  The pond was used to store fir mast timbers under water, to keep them supple and to prevent them from drying out. Our aims were to determine the extent of the pond and to evaluate its condition, and the trenches produced some fascinating results.

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The first trench, excavated on the eastern of the pond, provided part of the answer, locating its eastern brick revetment wall at a depth of only 30cm below the current surface of the Dockyard car park.
 
We carefully cleared an area around the wall, revealing a slight batter (angle) to its front face. Against its inner face there was redeposited chalk from the in-filling of the pond in the late 19th century; on the outside there were intact cobbled surfaces.

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The most interesting finding was in a trench at the northern end of the pond. Not only did we again reveal the revetment wall, but also the timber foundations of the plank-seasoning house that was built over the mast pond in the 19th century. These foundations consisted of vertical piles supporting horizontal beams that were built into the pond wall and extended out above its northern edge (see image below).  
 
 

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Over the next few months WA will be assisting the Trust with a variety of investigations in the vicinity of both the mast pond, and the Mast House and Wheelwrights’ Shop to its immediate south. These will include the survey and interpretation of an assemblage of 18th century ship timbers, purported to be from the iconic sailing warship HMS Namur, prior to the development of a new visitor entrance on the site.
 
Throughout the summer we will be providing updates on all the latest results and finds as work develops on this exciting project.
 
For more details on the project click here.
 

Iona II dive trail in the NAS newsletter

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The Iona II dive trail project has made the front page of the latest Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) newsletter! The article about the dive trail project gives a brief history of the vessel, how it was wrecked and site investigations that have taken place over the last few decades. The key focus of the article is how this project has worked in partnership with the diving community, including members of the NAS. Divers continue to be consulted on all aspects of the dive trail especially in the creation of interpretative materials which include multiple underwater guides, themed waterproof information books, a monitoring system and a website. The dive trail will be complete and ready for use on 14 June 2014.
 
The newsletter is available in hard copy and electronic format to NAS members and non-members may be able to order hard copies through the website
 
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