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Kent Conference NOW FREE


The conference Celebrating Prehistoric Kent organised by Wessex Archaeology on 12th September 2015 will now be free!
With our commitment to the archaeology of the region Wessex Archaeology have decided to sponsor the whole event. That means you can attend the whole day conference FOR FREE. Come along and see some excellent speakers talk about some amazing sites you can also see displays of artefacts form the county.
If you have thought you might be interested but weren’t sure, this is the ideal opportunity.
To find out more about the event and see the full programme follow this link.
Although entry may be possible on the day, please reserve a space by contacting Brenda Kelly
Those who have already paid will receive a full refund!

10 Years of Thames’ Finds on Display


In one of our most extensive, innovative and exciting Coastal & Marine projects of the last 25 years, Wessex Archaeology has supported DP World London Gateway in the investigation and protection of the archaeology of the Thames Estuary, during the construction of the DP World London Gateway deep-sea container port and the associated dredging of the river’s shipping lanes.

Wessex Archaeology has been working with DP World, above and below the water, for over a decade, in a partnership which has been praised for its ground-breaking approach to investigating and understanding the country’s long history with the River Thames. We have conducted desk-based research, geophysical surveys, diver investigations and on-board watching briefs, and operated a Protocol for any stray or unexpected finds not picked during our initial surveys; and we have published the results of our investigations.
The archaeology of the Thames is complex, and many known and previously undiscovered wrecks and artefacts were encountered during the project. Our work has seen the careful investigation of aircraft wrecks, and numerous shipwrecks – ranging from the Elizabethan Princes Channel Wreck (investigated for the Port of London Authority) to the SS Letchworth, lost during the Second World War – as well as odd (and sometimes surprising) artefacts lost to the seabed.
Some of the finds have recently gone on display at DP World’s Europe and Russia Regional head office in central London, where they have been carefully curated by Beth Ellis, who is part of a team that oversees the P&O Heritage Collection for DP World. The finds, including cannonballs, pottery from the site of a paddle steamer, and an art deco taxi licence plate, help to draw visitors’ attention to the work undertaken by DP World and Wessex Archaeology, and to engage them with the region’s rich maritime heritage.
Beth says: ‘The pieces of crockery from the paddle steamer look great and have the added novelty of coming from a paddle steamer similar to those P&O used to own and run, like the William Fawcett (launched in 1828), traditionally known as P&O’s first ship.
Moving these finds from our stores to an exhibition means that they can now be seen by thousands of people during their time at DP World’s London office, and Wessex Archaeology is proud to support the display. In time, more of the artefacts recovered will be displayed in Southend Museum so that they can be viewed by the wider public, and where they will form part of an education programme for local schools and colleges. 
By Gemma Ingason

Celebrating Prehistoric Kent in the heart of Chatham Maritime

This year Wessex Archaeology is excited to be able to host a conference focusing on recent discoveries and ideas associated with prehistoric Kent. We have great speakers and great topics so this meant that we required a great venue.

2537 The Pilkington Building

Located within the heart of historic Chatham we are working with the University of Greenwich to offer state of the art equipment within a purposely designed open space. The conference will be held in the Pilkington Building, a Grade II Listed Building adjacent to the former Royal Navy Barracks Drill Shed. Designed by Colonel Henry Pilkington the construction of the Drill Shed or ‘Drill Hall’ was completed in March 1902 and provided accommodation and training facilities for the men of the reserve fleet who, up until that time, had been located within hulks moored alongside the River Medway close to Chatham Historic Dockyard. An ideal spot!
On the day head for the University of Greenwich Medway, Central Avenue, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4TB, the Pilkington Building is accessed via Central Avenue adjacent to the Drill Hall Library and Parade Ground. There is ample parking on site and we will happily arrange priority disabled parking closer to the building. We will have signs and directions set out and staff on hand to help.
For further details please see our upcoming events page,
or contact David Britchfield on 07515 998871 or email
By David Britchfield, Project Manager

New Community & Education Officer

2536 Rachel Brown

Wessex Archaeology is delighted to welcome Rachel Brown as our new Community & Education Officer. 
Rachel has worked as a History teacher and more recently as People and Learning Manager for the British Red Cross. These roles have taken her into a variety of learning environments and given her the opportunity to teach a wide range of people – from 3-year old pre-school children and 16-year old school students through to volunteers in their 80s. 
Rachel also has experience in developing an interest in archaeology, in a range of audiences, such as when volunteering with Dorset County Museum. Also, as a teacher, she involved sixth form students with archaeology, and created lessons focussing on archaeological sources for Key Stage 3.
While working for the British Red Cross she coordinated a variety of events. She also gained skills in managing research and evaluation projects in order to understand audiences, and better support business development.
In her new role Rachel will be engaging the public with the work of Wessex Archaeology, and in doing so she aims to develop existing and new partnerships both with our clients and the wider community.
Rachel has said: “I have a passion for history and hold the belief that cultural learning is of great importance to society, and should be accessible to all. So I am very excited to be joining Wessex Archaeology.”

Explore an 18th Century Dutch Shipwreck in 3D!

Cannon 6002 - Gun Rocks, Outer Farne Islands by Wessex Archaeology on Sketchfab


In the early 1700s a Dutch ship was lost on the notoriously dangerous rocks of the Farne Islands, off Britain’s east coast. Since then the wreck has lain at the bottom of the sea, hidden and forgotten, until the 1970s when divers from the local Tyneside British Sub Aqua Club came across a large collection of cannons scattered across the seabed. The club undertook a measured survey of the site.
In 2013 Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by English Heritage (now Historic England) to revisit the wreck site and update the survey. We worked closely with the local divers who had found the site, and undertook both sonar and hand-measured survey, helping us to understand the site more clearly than ever before, as reported on the BBC. Earlier this year we went back to give a talk to the local divers about our results, see our blog about the evening. 
As well as our normal survey methods, the survey in 2013 gave us another opportunity to use a fairly new technique called photogrammetry. This is fantastic for underwater archaeology and allows us to create realistic 3D models of parts of the site. We have now put our 3D models online ahead of our upcoming talk about the wreck at the Ordnance Society’s Guns from the Sea conference on the 5th September. These models are a great tool in helping us to rapidly record and understand these amazing artefacts, and now you can see them in all their detail through your browser!
The cannons below are a variety of cast iron 6- and 8-pounders. We have uploaded examples of three found on the seabed, and one, also recovered, which now sits on a modern gun cart outside the nearby Bamburgh Castle. Photogrammetric survey was carried out by John McCarthy and Peta Knott of Wessex Archaeology.
By John McCarthy, Project Manager

My Work Experience at Wessex Archaeology


I was excited to be given the opportunity to spend a week with Wessex Archaeology as I am considering studying archaeology and history as a degree, and so I knew that this would be an unmissable opportunity to find out more.
Day 1 (10/08/15)
After a morning of inductions and a tour of the building, I found myself working with the Coastal & Marine team. The team’s recent projects on the Iona, and also in the works at London Gateway, were fascinating. My afternoon spent in this department has definitely led me to consider a career in marine archaeology. 
Day 2 (11/08/15)
I approached the Wessex Archaeology building with much trepidation today, as I saw that first on my schedule was ‘Graphics’, and so was reminded of how I cannot actually draw. But I was pleasantly surprised at how different sketching archaeological finds was to the ominous bowl of fruit that was so often placed in front of me during past art lessons. So much so that under close supervision and teaching, I found that by the end of the morning my sketches of Roman pots started to resemble the sketches of similar pots pictured in the photos and drawing around me. 
I also worked in the GeoServices department and discovered the techy side of archaeology, such as how GIS and CAD are used, along with surveying equipment such as Magnetometry and Radar (which despite the excellent teaching of the department still continue to bewilder me).
Day 3 (12/08/15)
After being warned about the muddy nature of the Environmental department, I spent the morning processing soil samples. This mainly involved avoiding getting drenched, and sieving mud to separate out snail shells, vegetation and charcoal from the samples, as these finds can reveal a great deal of information about a site. 
Day 4 (13/08/15)
Today I travelled down to Dawlish in Devon to visit a site where the archaeological fieldwork was almost complete. As a result I spent the day helping photograph and record some blank trenches ready to be backfilled. Despite the rain and this final stage on site being apparently the least interesting part, I thoroughly enjoyed working there.
Day 5 (14/08/15)
I thought I had finally decided exactly what I wanted to do at Uni, but after seeing some of the work in the Conservation department I am now seriously confused. The artefacts being worked on there were just so incredible that it has led me to consider doing a degree in conservation and archaeology! I spent the rest of the day in the Finds department, labelling artefacts with site and context numbers, using permanent ink and tiny handwriting.
This week has been deeply fascinating and I’d like to thank everyone at Wessex Archaeology for making it so fantastic.
By Philippa Murrison

Celebrating Prehistoric Kent: One Month to go!


With less than a month until our conference on Celebrating Prehistoric Kent, we are starting to get things together. As well as an excellent programme of speakers, we will have displays of finds from some of the sites Wessex Archaeology has excavated in Kent. 
For example, we will have a talk and finds display about Cliffs End Farm – as featured in the latest issue of Current Archaeology
Click here to view the conference programme, and book your ticket by post, or book online by going to:
If you want to find out more about the archaeology of Cliffs End Farm, why not purchase the monograph here.
By Mark Williams
Regional Team Leader, London & South East

My Nuffield Placement - Week 4


For the past four weeks I have constantly been intrigued, enthralled and fascinated by archaeology, specifically the strange world under the sea. I have been looking at and analysing bathymetry (seabed) data for a 240 km2 area around Portland. I’ve then taken a vast amount of multibeam echo sounder data and processed it into a huge 3D model where the whole of the seabed can be viewed to 2 m resolution. The time consuming process then begins of hunting down all the areas that look like wrecks, making note of them and building individual models of these to much higher resolution (usually 30 cm). I then compared them to data from the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) which charts all the wrecks, using this to find more information about them. 
During my time studying wrecks there are two moments that were even more exciting than the rest. First is the high quality image of the submarine HMS M2 which I was able to produce. Afterwards I discovered this submarine was in fact the world’s first submarine aircraft carrier! From the 3D model details such as the hydraulic launch ramp on the front of the submarine could be picked out and, after some careful cleaning of the data, it was even possible to see an aerial/periscope protruding from the top of the conning tower.


The second most exciting moment is the potentially rediscovery of the SS Myrtledene wreck. The UKHO records mark the wreck as ‘dead’ (either the wreck has been lost or is considered too destroyed to be observable any more). However, while attempting to build a high quality image of another wreck I purposefully (accidentally) built a high quality 3D model of the wrong area. To my surprise there was in fact a wreck here that wasn’t marked down on the UKHO records (see left). After extensive puzzling I believe I may have found the remains of SS Myrtledene (UKHO reports the last known location of the wreck to be 800 m north of where this wreck is located). Although not confirmed and not a huge discovery it was extremely exciting to have located something uncharted.
I’ve had a fantastic time here and have learnt loads including how to use complex computer software to analyse data as well as understanding better what a workplace feels like. I’d like to thank everyone at Wessex Archaeology for being so open and friendly to me throughout my time here. It’s been a very enjoyable, eye opening and rewarding four weeks that’s flown by and I’m slightly sad that it has come to an end.
By Tom Syndercombe
Marine Geophysics Manager Louise Tizzard said ‘This is the second year we have run this placement scheme and it has been a huge success. Tom has contributed to the marine geophysics team over the last four weeks and his work will help inform our dive team for potential future diving activities and research in the area. The GeoServices department is already looking forward to next year’s placement.

Hadrian's Wall Monument Scanning

Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site is one of Britain's most important and evocative archaeological monuments. It stretches right across the north of England and when it was built it marked the northern extent of the Roman empire. The purpose of this epic feat of engineering was to separate the Roman world from the barbarian world beyond the wall. A series of forts and milecastles were placed along the wall and over time these became as domestic as military, with civilian settlements growing up beside forts and numerous temples being constructed.
An amazing array of altars, statues and other carvings have been found along the wall by archaeologists and many of these have been preserved within the collection of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle, now housed within the Great North Museum. We have scanned over 50 of these as part of our recent collaboration with University of Newcastle through the NU Digital Heritage project ( One of the planned uses of these digital models will be for use as a teaching resource for initiatives such as Newcastle University’s free online Massive Online Open Course Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier. For more information on the scans see
By John McCarthy - Project Manager

Yorkshire Day Celebrations


Wessex Archaeology’s Sheffield office had their white roses at the ready for the Yorkshire Day Celebrations at Pontefract Castle on Saturday 1 August 2015. The busy summer season for the community team continued with another outing for the ‘Sands of Time’ sandpit excavation activity. This time, the team were joined by Senior Geomatics Officer, Chris Breeden, who came to show off his ‘machines that go bing’, otherwise known as a Bartington Grad601-2 dual fluxgate gradiometer and a CAT scanner. Chris was on hand to explain to the visitors to the Wessex Archaeology stall how gradiometers are used to undertake surveys to identify the presence of possible archaeological remains below the ground and demonstrate the use of CAT scanners to detect buried cables. 

The event was very well attended with over 1000 people coming to see all the attractions on offer, which also included falconry displays, fresco painting and medieval bread making. There was also a very special stall run by the Friends of Pontefract Castle which celebrated all things Yorkshire. For details of all the events happening at Pontefract Castle this summer, please use the following link:
If you would like Wessex Archaeology’s Community and Education team to help you with your event, please email
By Alexandra Grassam, Senior Heritage Consultant
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