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South Yorkshire Archaeology Day 2017

3768 Image © of Greg Coley from SUAVE Aerial Photographers
 
Wessex Archaeology’s Phil Weston and Lucy Dawson were invited to talk at this year’s South Yorkshire Archaeology Day, which took place on Saturday 18 November in Sheffield. 
 
Phil set the ball rolling with his talk about our recent excavations at Rossington Inland Port, Doncaster. The excavations at Rossington targeted areas within a 125 hectare parcel of land, affording us the opportunity to really explore an agricultural Romano-British landscape, characterised by field boundaries, enclosures, trackways and areas of settlement and industrial activity. Our aim was to chart the development of the field system and trackways and to characterise the nature of the areas of settlement and industry. 
 

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Our excavations revealed roundhouses of 1st−2nd century date which probably had Iron Age antecedents; an enclosure, truncated by the railway, that, given the large assemblage of 2nd−3rd-century pottery, had clearly been the focus of domestic settlement as well as producing and working lead; and, the remains of a large enclosure within which were a corn dryer and the bases of 19 ovens or kilns. Several fragments of quernstone were recovered from the enclosure suggesting crop processing, again dating to the 2nd−3rd centuries. 
 
In the afternoon Lucy presented the results of recent works carried out by the built heritage team at Ardsley House, Barnsley. Ardsley House was built by Richard Micklethwait in 1773, with subsequent additions through the 19th century, creating a very comfortable country house. The house was sold in the late 1960s, and refurbished and extended to create a hotel which opened in the early 1970s. Continued extension and refurbishment works at the hotel throughout the 1980s and 1990s meant further damage, unfortunately, was inflicted on the historic fabric of the former house. 
 

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The team produced an archaeological assessment and building appraisal to accompany the client’s planning application for demolition and redevelopment of the site. Planning permission for the scheme at the site was approved with archaeological conditions. The team then went back to carry out the mitigation works in the form of historic building recording to a Historic England Level 3−4, and subsequent watching brief during the soft strip and demolition works. The recording works included detailed laser scanning and photogrammetry of rooms where historic plasterwork had been retained. 
 
The day was a great success and we really enjoyed all the other speakers that contributed to the day. Many thanks to South Yorkshire Archaeology Service for asking us to participate; we’re already looking forward to next year, when we hope we’ll be able to partake again. 
 
 
 
 

Army Basing Programme Video

3767 The site at Larkhill, image captured by Rob Rawcliffe of FIDES Flare Media Ltd
 
Wessex Archaeology has created a video in partnership with Directorate Children & Young People to share the incredible archaeological discoveries that have been made on Salisbury Plain, since we first started work on the Army Basing Programme (ABP) sites in 2015. Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by WYG on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to carry out archaeological investigations on Salisbury Plain ahead of development for the Army Basing Programme (ABP). The video features Phil Harding, Matt Leivers, Jacqueline McKinley, Steve Thompson and the work of our Graphics team.
 
As well as the video we have updated our ABP webpages covering the work at Bulford, Larkhill and Tidworth.
 
To see the video and web pages follow this link.
 
 
 

How I learned to stop worrying and love archives

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Towering shelves of grey document cases…that’s what you are confronted by when you step into an archive room. They might seem like an impenetrable wall, but these unassuming boxes are the culmination of decades of archaeological experience. Each case contains the neatly filed work of a team of intrepid (and sometimes soggy) field archaeologists and post-excavation specialists. The straight lines, clean surfaces and ordered world of the archivist sometimes feels worlds apart from where much of this information is collected. But archiving is very much part of the archaeological process.
 
My name is Frances Ward and I have been archiving at Wessex Archaeology West for just over a year now. Before that I was part of the fieldwork team at Wessex Archaeology and have worked for other South West based commercial archaeology companies for the last seven years. I graduated from the University of Exeter in 2009 having done a BA Hons. Degree in Archaeology. During that time I was lucky enough to travel to Crete and Sri Lanka on post-excavation research trips. Those years cemented my interest in the relationship human beings have with their landscape and material culture. Also, handling things…all archaeologists like to find things…especially things that were last handled by someone centuries/millennia ago.
 
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So, after three years at University and seven years in fieldwork I joined the archives team. I didn’t realise when I first started the job how involved an archivist is with each project, from its inception right to its conclusion. At the beginning of each project I notify the relevant museum that fieldwork will be taking place. This allows them to prepare for the eventual deposition of finds and documents that make up a site archive. A line of communication is always open with museums so they can be kept informed if sites yield large quantities of finds or become more archaeologically significant than was initially expected. Then when the fieldwork and post-excavation work are completed I compile the records as specified in the relevant museum guidelines. A good analogy might be that an archivist’s work is the bread and the field and post-ex work are the filling in the sandwich that is commercial archaeology! If you like food based analogies.
 
Archiving is primarily about making all the work and results that fieldwork produces accessible to as many people as possible. Archives can be viewed in Museums but the finished reports are also available digitally online. Once projects are completed I enter the final details into the national OASIS database website, including pdf copies of reports. These will then get transferred into the ADS Library of Unpublished Fieldwork Reports where they are available to everyone…for free!
 
So, enjoy exploring all those archives.
 
 
 

Romano-British Land Management

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Archaeological Evaluation of land to the north of Weston-Super-Mare revealed evidence for land management in the Romano-British period. A sample taken from the fill of a gully was processed for the recovery of molluscs revealing the presence of only open country species (no aquatic snails) indicating that the ditch was open during a dry period. A single wheat grain of Triticum sp. may indicate crop production in the vicinity during the Romano-British period.

Later alluvial clay build-up suggests intermittent flooding and re-drying of land surfaces until the post-medieval period when extensive reclamation work drained the Marsh.

To find out more about this site please follow this link
 
By Tracey Smith
 
 

The National Temperance Hospital, London: Secrets revealed

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In May this year, Wessex Archaeology’s Built Heritage Team was commissioned to monitor the retrieval of a time capsule from below an existing foundation stone at the National Temperance Hospital site at Euston, London. 
 
The site is undergoing a programme of phased demolition as part of on-going HS2 works, and due to a previously unrecorded time capsule being found in another area of the site from beneath an earlier foundation stone, it was decided that the removal of this later stone would be under close archaeological supervision. 
 

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The foundation stone was laid in 1884 to mark the construction of the latest phase of extension to the Hospital. After the foundation stone was removed, a glass jar was recovered from a square recess cut into the underside of the stone. The well-sealed jar bore the makers’ mark of Cannington and Shaw of St Helens. The jar was then carefully packaged unopened and sent to MOLA Headland Infrastructure for conservation and assessment of the contents. 
 
Read about what was in the jar and more about the project here:
And watch the full story here:
 
 
 

NAS Conference 2017

3749 Our Coastal & Marine team's display at the 2016 NAS conference in Glasgow

Our Coastal & Marine team are looking forward to attending the 2017 Nautical Archaeology Society conference in Portsmouth this weekend. The theme of the conference this year is ‘Discovery is Just the Beginning’, and the conference will not only explore the legacy of the Nautical Archaeology Society’s education programme but also showcase nautical archaeology projects from around the world.

As one of the sponsors of the conference, the team will have a display stand, showing some finds from the Marine Aggregate Industry Archaeological Protocol and handing out copies of the latest newsletter, Dredged Up. They will also be raising awareness for the Marine Antiquities Scheme; an initiative that encourages the reporting of finds from beach combers, dog walkers, divers, fishermen and other coastal and sea users around the country. There will also be short video on some of the recent work the Coastal & Marine team have been doing this year.
 
 
 

Meeting the Future of our Industry in Sheffield

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The past couple of weeks have been a busy time for the Sheffield team who have been out and about speaking to the future of our industry. On 30 October Andy Norton joined a host of fellow archaeological professionals from the north of England to partake in the University of Sheffield ‘s archaeological employers day. The event hosted by Colin Merrony is held each year at Sheffield’s Humanities Research Institute and involves talks followed by a round of ‘speed dating’. The ‘speed dating’ involves groups of both undergraduates and postgraduates moving between tables to chat to and question panels formed from local contractors, specialists, museums staff, consultants and planning archaeologists. It was a pleasure speaking to such engaged students and great to see that the future of archaeology is in safe hands.
 
On 8 November it was the students of Sheffield Hallam University’s turn to find out the realities of a life as an archaeologist. Chris (Bre) Breeden, Jess Irwin and Mili Rajic hosted a stand at Sheffield Hallam University Natural & Built Environment (NBE) Careers Day, an event designed to allow NBE undergraduate and postgraduate students to network with employers, explore a variety of career options and engage in career planning. For NBE students archaeology would not necessarily seem like the obvious career path but we offered tips for approaching archaeological companies and how to make the most of the opportunities available. Over 40 students came to our stand and talked to us about building surveys and heritage management to 3D reconstructions and GIS, and a myriad of other abbreviations. Bre also co-hosted a workshop on GIS and remote sensing resulting in some fantastic ideas for placement projects for the current GIS students. The day was a great success and we have demonstrated to the students that choosing a career in archaeology entails much more than just digging (and mud) and offers a lot of different possibilities. We are honoured to have been invited back next year look forward to meeting old and new faces.
 
By Andy Norton and Mili Rajic
 
 

New Chairperson Appointed

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Today we are delighted to announce the appointment of our new Chairman, Mr. Anthony Fry. Anthony studied History at Oxford University and embarked on a career in banking with Rothschilds where he advised businesses and governments around the world. He was instrumental in the structuring of the UK National Lottery and until recently served as Chair of CALA Group, The Premier League and Dairy Crest. He has also held non-executive positions on the boards of companies including Southern Water, BSI and Molem. His experience of charitable, cultural and academic organisations includes Board positions with The British Lung Foundation, SOAS, The English National Opera and The Natural History Museum. From the late 1990s Anthony was Global Head of Media and European Head of Telecoms at Credit Suisse where he worked with major media companies including the BBC, BSkyB and Vivendi. He also became a member of the BBC Trust. Anthony now lives in Wiltshire and is an enthusiastic fan of Time Team. We are very pleased that he has agreed to lend his wealth of expertise to the benefit of Wessex Archaeology.

Sadly, we must also say goodbye to our outgoing Chair, Genie Turton, who has guided the organisation through the toughest economic conditions in living memory. Genie agreed to take on the role on a temporary basis but, recognising the need for stability, she has remained with us for five years. During her tenure, Genie encouraged our teams to balance clear-eyed business thinking with the delivery of public benefit and used her commitment to diversity and equality to inspire our staff and return our organsisation to a strong financial position. The Board and the management team benefited hugely from her experience and energy and she has been a consistent source of sound advice and moral support. We are tremendously grateful for the contribution Genie made to our organisation and we have no doubt that her next initiative will be a great success.
 
 
 
 

Miles' Week of Work Experience

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Monday 23 October
On Monday I was given a brief tour of the various departments of Portway House, and was able to see where I would be volunteering for the remainder of my week. After this tour, I was introduced to one of the project managers Si Cleggett, he explained what Wessex Archaeology did, and demonstrated how a project was received and enacted with some of the current projects. Following this meeting I was introduced to the photogrammetry department, where Roberta kindly demonstrated the process of making an accurate archaeological 3D model. She then recruited my help to create a precise model of one of the outside walls. 
 
Tuesday 24 October 
On Tuesday morning I volunteered with the environmental team. I was handed a pair of gloves, and an apron and began sluicing environmental samples from a Neolithic site. In this process we discovered a variety of molluscs, charcoal, and some fragments of animal bone. I spent the afternoon with the finds team, and was shown how to clean an array of archaeological finds, primarily ceramic building material, but also a few animal bones, and sherds of everyday pottery. 
 
Wednesday 25 October 
On the Wednesday morning I returned to the finds team, where I assisted Sophie with cataloguing the processed articles, and met some of the more frequent volunteers. I was incredibly impressed by the team’s ability to date and identify the various objects. Later in the day I was introduced to Bob Clarke in the research department. It was fascinating to hear about the process in which these reports are compiled. Bob showed me some of the more difficult reports that he’s had to compile, with very few pieces of evidence, and gave some of his explanations for some of the unusual sites. I was then taken around the library, and given a brief history of Portway House itself. 
 

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Thursday 26 October 
On the Thursday morning, I attended a social media team meeting, where as well as seeing the ‘exciting new conference call device,’ I was also able to understand how Wessex Archaeology’s various media accounts were managed. Following this meeting I was taken to the maritime archaeology department, where I was given a tour of Unit 2 whilst Joaquin kindly modelled the diving equipment. The department also showed me the excavated 17th-century merchant cannon along with Paolo’s excellent analysis report. Later in the day, I volunteered with the heritage department. I was shown how the Environmental Heritage Record worked, and was given the opportunity to see some historical maps of Salisbury from the 19th century.
 
Friday 27 October 
On Friday, I returned to the environmental department to sort the material that I had previously processed. In the process, I gathered some more mollusc shells, a few pieces of charcoal, and some struck flint. On Friday afternoon, I was introduced to the osteoarchaeology department. Kirsten showed me the remains that she was currently working on. It was fascinating to hear what they could be deduced from such a small amount of evidence, establishing that the Victorian skeleton was a muscular syphilitic, male. Jackie then explained her role, and showed me some examples of the cremated remains that she has worked on. 
 
Overview 
It was a fascinating insight into how commercial archaeology works. I was introduced to a multitude of departments, most of whom I had very little or no knowledge of, and met some fascinating, and extremely knowledgeable people. 
 
By Miles Lonergan
 

Archaeology has taken a grip on Bulford St Leonards school

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We have been absolutely thrilled that a local school has run with the theme of archaeology after discovering about the local archaeological works happening across the road from them in Bulford. Before the summer holiday Bulford St Leonards school in Salisbury was visited by Phil Harding, who opened their eyes to the exciting discoveries being made in the area and the subject of archaeology. From this moment onwards teacher Chris Baker and her colleagues decided to use archaeology as a major theme and allow the students to delve deeper into the area’s local history.
 

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Wessex Archaeology has been delighted to be able to assist the school by providing artefacts and resources to support the learning programmes organised by the school’s staff.
 
We know that the students will have gained a greater insight into historical sources and how we construct our understanding of the past, as well as had a lot of fun which will have added to their love of learning.
 
It is great to see people of all generations engaging with new discoveries and archaeology in general.
 
If you wish to find out more about what has been happening during recent excavations on Salisbury Plain follow this link.
 
 
 
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