Latest News


Marine Ecology Diving Initiative Launched

Wessex Archaeology Coastal & Marine team are delighted to partner with Marine Ecological Surveys Limited (MESL) in facilitating the launch of their Ecological Diving Services.

2309 Dr Delphine Coates, Phil Durrant, and Euan McNeill

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.
By Euan McNeill, Director, Coastal & Marine

BIM for Construction: Heritage and Ecology

If you are a project manager in infrastructure, renewables, energy or construction then this is the event for you!
2294 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 2295 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.

Trailwalker 2015 – T Minus 15 Weeks

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.
2306 Little Kits Coty and the White Horse Stone
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.

2298 Kits Coty House

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

South Australian Wreck Survey Planned

2292 Magnetometer and sidescan sonar survey equipment

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

A Mammoth Adventure


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.

2291 Mammoth tusk

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

Join the Easter Egg Hunt!

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!
2276 2277 2278
2279 2280 2287
2282 2283 2284


Chedworth Roman Villa Comes to Wessex


Our fabulous volunteer team embarked on an exciting new project last week – processing artefacts unearthed at Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire.


Chedworth was one of the largest Roman villas in the country during its heyday in the 4th century. The buildings and artefacts uncovered here provide a fascinating insight into privileged society at the time. It is hoped that ongoing community excavations, organised by the National Trust and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will reveal further information about when the villa was first built and the people who lived here.
The team at Wessex will be cleaning and packaging finds from the 2014 phase of excavation on behalf of the National Trust (NT). Artefacts include Roman ceramic building material, pottery and glass, as well as more recent finds from previous phases of excavation, including a ball point pen lid! There are also a large number of tesserae that have been dislodged from the impressive (but unexpected) mosaic floor unearthed last year. The project kicked off with a fascinating talk by NT archaeologist Nancy Grace about the history of the site and the recent developments. Find out more about the community excavation taking place at Chedworth on the NT archaeology blog.
By Laura Joyner, Community & Education Officer

Submerged Prehistory: Kfar Samir

2270 Survey of the exposed well. Photo by J. Benjamin.

As well as working for Wessex Archaeology, many of our staff are involved in their own research and have the opportunity to apply the high degree of skill developed in Wessex to important archaeological investigations elsewhere.
Late last year our Project Manager John McCarthy participated in the excavation of part of a submerged Neolithic settlement at Kfar Samir, Israel. The team was led by Dr Ehud Gallili, a world-renowned expert in submerged prehistory (and a senior maritime archaeologist at the Israel Antiques Authority and the University of Haifa) and Dr Deborah Cvikel of the University of Haifa as well as our former colleague Dr Jonathan Benjamin, now lecturer in Maritime Archaeology at Flinders University in Australia. 
2264 Covered by almost two metres of sand, the site required extensive dredging. Photo by J. McCarthy.

2271 Hand dredging equipment. Photo by J. McCarthy

The work was funded by the Honor Frost Foundation. Despite heavy sand cover on the site the team worked over the course of a week to remove sand and carry out archaeological investigation of a well, one of the most important features of this submerged village which dates to the pre-pottery Neolithic period, 7500 years ago and which is now five metres underwater. Wells like this were abandoned when the water table began to rise and were backfilled with rubbish; the few examples found in the past have proven to be an archaeologists dream, full of artefacts and environmental evidence.
John's participation in the project was as a specialist in underwater photogrammetry, and he has been able to create a 3D model of the well. A preliminary report on the site will shortly be published in Hadashot Archaeologiot (News in Archaeology) and the project has recently been featured in the latest edition of the Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology (March 2015).

Thank You to the RNLI


On Friday, Director of Coastal & Marine Euan McNeill delivered a belated Christmas present to Patch Harvey, Coxswain of the Penlee Lifeboat at RNLI Penlee Lifeboat Station, Newlyn, Cornwall. 
This £70 donation was created from money saved through sending e-cards instead of traditional Christmas cards to friends and clients in 2014.
As a team that has been working offshore for over 25 years, Wessex Archaeology Coastal & Marine know all too well the risks of the sea, and put considerable resources into avoiding them through training and support for our dive and geophysical survey teams. 
Euan says, ‘The RNLI crews, all of whom are volunteers, risk their lives every time they go out to sea to assist those in danger. We are eternally grateful to them for that courage and altruism. As they say, they are ordinary people, doing extraordinary things, and we hope this donation goes some small way to allow them to continue the incredible work that they do.  We have worked in the area covered by the Penlee Lifeboat crew and are pleased to support the efforts they are making to improve their Newlyn facilities.’
By Gemma Ingason – Archaeologist Coastal & Marine
See if you can spot Rudolph on last year’s Christmas card (YouTube Link), which put a festive bent on one of the Neolithic houses excavated by our team at Kingsmead Quarry, Horton.

London’s Oldest Prehistoric Structure?

2261 Michael recording wood

Waterlogged wood expert Michael Bamforth is here recording and subsampling various timbers lifted during fieldwork on foreshore sites in London for the Thames Tideway Tunnel project. 
The timbers include one which may belong to London’s oldest prehistoric structure – a group of timbers on the foreshore outside the MI6 building at Vauxhall, others of which have been previously dated to the Late Mesolithic at around 4800–4500 BC. 
Following recording, the timbers will be subsampled for species ID and radiocarbon dating.
2263 Post at Vauxhall
Syndicate content