Latest News

News

Training Dig 2008: Practical Archaeology Training Course

For the last four years, Wessex Archaeology has run a series of very successful five day courses at Dr Martin Green’s farm on Cranborne Chase, “one of the most carefully studied areas in western Europe”. The Down Farm landscape includes parts of the Dorset Cursus and Ackling Dyke, Bronze Age barrows and Roman and Iron Age buildings. It is a rich, multi-period site in a wonderful setting.

The course will include instruction and practice in site surveying, excavation, recording (the production of both written records and scale drawings) and finds processing.

It runs from September 1st - 5th and 8th - 12th 2008. More details can be found in our training section.

Podcast: Aircraft Crash Sites at Sea (part two)

The following podcast relates to the ALSF funded Aircraft Crash Sites at Sea: A Scoping Study project undertaken by Wessex Archaeology in late 2007. The project is looking at what information is available about civilian and military crash sites around the UK.
 
In this, the second podcast relating to the Aircraft Crash Sites at Sea project the author of the report, Graham Scott, discusses the importance of these sites and some case studies of actual UK marine crash sites and what these tell us about the types of sites are on the seabed and their importance for aviation archaeology and management of aggregate dredging licences.
 
Listen to and download the mp3.

Podcast: Aircraft Crash Sites at Sea (part one)

The following podcast relates to the ALSF Funded Aircraft Crash Sites at Sea: A Scoping Study project undertaken by Wessex Archaeology in late 2007. The project is looking at what information is available about civilian and military crash sites around the UK.
 
In this podcast you will hear the Project Manager, Euan McNeill, discussing the origins of the project, through material found by aggregate dredging and reported through the English Heritage and British Marine Aggregate Producers Association Protocol for Reporting Finds of Archaeological Interest.
 
Euan discusses the origin of the protocol and the ongoing Implementation Service which is operated by Wessex Archaeology and administers the scheme. He also discusses the role the aggregate industry is playing in bringing to light archaeological finds, and pieces of aircraft in particular, and what impact this has on aggregate dredging.
 
Download and listen to the mp3.

Time Travelling by Water launches with a splash!

Heritage Lottery Funded

Wessex Archaeology's Time Travelling by Water project launches in February. The project aim is to increase learning and access to the mammoth amount of information generated by Wessex Archaeology's Coastal and Marine team. Through school visits, presentations to community groups, appearances at events and a new website, Time Travelling by Water will show that there's far more to underwater archaeology than shipwrecks! img_5783.JPGOver the next six months, newly appointed Education Officer Gemma White will be gathering resources, writing lesson plans and dusting off the finds ready for the active phase of the project to begin in July. Initially the project is being launched in the South-West and covers the counties of Wiltshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset. For further information, or to book a free workshop for your school or community group, please email Gemma White at g.white@wessexarch.co.uk or phone on 01722 326 867.
 

PWA 1973 Contract: WA appointed for 2008-2011

Wessex Archaeology has been re-appointed as the Government’s contractor for Archaeological Services in relation to the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. The contract, managed by English Heritage for DCMS, runs from the 1st April 2008 to the 31st March 2011.
Swash Channel Designated Wreck 1 The principle aim of the contract is to supply advice to English Heritage, Historic Scotland, Cadw, and the Environment and Heritage Service Northern Ireland to enable them to advise their respective Secretary of State, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Ireland Ministers, as appropriate, about issues of designation and licensing under the PWA 1973.
 
We are really pleased to have been re-appointed, and we’re looking forward to working with the heritage agencies, licensee teams and other stakeholders over the next three years.
 
More information about designated sites can be found here. News of WA investigations on wreck sites can be found on our shipwrecks page.

Wrecks on the Seabed: Ecology

Ever wondered about the plants and animals that live on shipwrecks? What sorts of effects do these critters have on archaeological remains? Can the types of flora and fauna that chose to colonise a particular wreck tell us anything about the stability of the site, for example? Condenser Resident
These are some of the questions that Wessex Archaeology hopes to answer in the exciting new 'Wrecks: Ecology' project. The project will investigate whether archaeological information from wrecks can also provide information about the plants and animals that inhabit them, and from this, say something about the environmental processes at work off the East Sussex coast. Understanding the ecology of wrecks will improve the management, conservation and monitoring of these heritage sites. It will also improve archaeologists' ability, when considering seabed developments, to better assess their potential positive and negative impacts on historical wrecks. Visit the project website for more information. The 'Wrecks: Ecology' project is funded by the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) through English Heritage.

Wrecks on the Seabed: Ecology

Ever wondered about the plants and animals that live on shipwrecks? What sorts of effects do these critters have on archaeological remains? Can the types of flora and fauna that chose to colonise a particular wreck tell us anything about the stability of the site, for example?

These are some of the questions that Wessex Archaeology hopes to answer in the exciting new ‘Wrecks: Ecology’ project.

The project will investigate whether archaeological information from wrecks can also provide information about the plants and animals that inhabit them, and from this, say something about the environmental processes at work off the East Sussex coast.

Understanding the ecology of wrecks will improve the management, conservation and monitoring of these heritage sites. It will also improve archaeologists’ ability, when considering seabed developments, to better assess their potential positive and negative impacts on historical wrecks.

Visit the project website for more information.

The ‘Wrecks: Ecology’ project is funded by the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) through English Heritage.

Massive hoard of Bronze Age axes from Dorset

One of the Bronze Age axes discovered in DorsetOne of the Bronze Age axes discovered in DorsetThe site of one of the largest hoards of Bronze Age axes ever found in Britain has been investigated by Wessex Archaeology.

At a site on the Isle of Purbeck in south Dorset, metal detector users found hundreds of Bronze Age axes in late October and early November 2007.

The axes, though not made of gold or silver, seem certain to qualify as Treasure when the Dorset Coroner holds an inquest into their discovery. Revisions to the original Treasure law mean that prehistoric objects of bronze can be classed as treasure, opening the way to a reward for the metal detector users and the landowner.

The metal detector users could hardly believe their luck when the discovery of one complete bronze axe and a fragment of another led them to identify three hot spots close by. The hotspots proved to be hoards of axes. Having reported the finds to the government funded Portable Antiquities Scheme, the detectors returned the following weekend. And promptly found another hoard containing hundreds of axes. In total at least 300 axes were found.

Following a request from the British Museum, who will give expert opinion to the county Coroner as to whether finds should be defined as Treasure, and the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a team from Wessex Archaeology undertook a follow up excavation.

Find out more on the Bronze Age Axes project website.

Video of the Boscombe Down Roman coffin

In December we announced the discovery of a Roman stone coffin at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. Inside were the remains of a woman cradling a child in her arms. The unique environment within the coffin had allowed the preservation of the leather and cork slippers of the lady, as well as the child’s calf skin shoes. This was an exceptionally rare find.
 
Finding a complete coffin with lid intact, and witnessing the removal of the lid was a momentous occasion for all of the archaeologists working on the site.
 
Fortunately, we were able to capture these exciting moments on video to share with you. This short film begins with our osteoarchaeologist Jacqueline McKinley removing soil from around the coffin, the first look inside the coffin with an infra-red camera, to the removal of the lid and the careful excavation and planning of the remains inside.
 
A shorter (10 minute) version is available on YouTube.

Chief Executive Awarded OBE

A ‘delighted’ Sue Davies, Chief Executive of Wessex Archaeology, was awarded the OBE in the New Years Honours List for Services to Heritage.

Sue’s fascination with discovering things goes back to her childhood. Born in Wales, her father had studied in archaeology, so family outings involved trips to Hadrian’s Wall and Stonehenge, and she started going on digs during the school holidays. Her long association with Wessex started when she studied archaeology at Southampton and, apart from a few years working on a UNESCO-funded project on Carthage, she has worked here ever since.

While she was at Southampton, Sue helped local archaeologists from Andover and Romsey at the weekends and when local charity Wessex Archaeology was set up in 1979 she was one of the first employees. She led a series of excavations across the region including major projects as Dorchester town centre was redeveloped and started what has turned out to be a long running involvement in the attempts to find a solution for Stonehenge.

Sue became Chief Executive in 2003 but as well as building up the company to the point where it has a staff of over 200, she has served on various organisations that have helped establish the young and emerging profession of archaeology. She served as the Chair on the Institute of Field Archaeologists, who made her an Honorary Life Member in 2005, and she is currently the Chair of the Culture Committee for the UK National Commission for UNESCO which advises the government on matters relating to culture and world heritage, work which takes her to Paris and Brussels.

Commenting on the honour, Sue said ‘I am really pleased, but this isn’t about what I have done. It is about the work of all my colleagues who have helped establish archaeology as something that matters to people. People value their past. Discovering things is exciting, but you have to have a good team and good system. Over the last 25 years we have gone a long way to building, right across the UK, one of the best heritage systems in Europe.’

Local MP Robert Key who serves on the Board of Directors of Wessex Archaeology and speaks up for archaeology at Westminster said ‘I am thrilled for Sue. Like her, I was fascinated by archaeology when I was a child. My career took a different path, but I am proud that one of the top archaeological organisations in Europe is based in Salisbury. I know from first hand experience that Sue’s honour is thoroughly deserved.’

Syndicate content