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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


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