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Stirling Castle, Goodwin Sands

The 'Great Storm' of 1703 is believed to have sunk 90 vessels on the Goodwin Sands off Kent alone. One of the ships lost was the warship Stirling Castle.
 
The Stirling Castle was a Third Rate, 70 gun ship built at Deptford in 1678 as part of Samuel Pepys' 'Thirty Ships' building programme intended to regenerate the Royal Navy following the third Anglo-Dutch war (1672-1674).
 
After serving during William III's war with France in the 1690s the Stirling Castle was rebuilt at Chatham, and refitted in 1701. The Stirling Castle was engaged in war duties in the Mediterranean during the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714) and had just returned in the Summer of 1703. In November that year the Stirling Castle was one of a large number of naval vessels anchored in the Downs when the storm struck. The ship was driven onto the Goodwin Sands and sank. Only 69 of the 268 crew survived.
 
The wreck was found by local sports divers in 1979 in an exceptional state of preservation. It was designated as a protected wreck under The Protection of Wrecks Act (1973) in 1980. Since its discovery the site has deteriorated rapidly due to the loss of the sand that buried the wreck and unauthorised fishing and diving activities.

Sternpost and rudder, Stirling Castle

A local diving group called SeaDive has been working to record and preserve the wreck. The licensee of the Stirling Castle is a member of the group.

Wessex Archaeology Investigations

English Heritage commissioned Wessex Archaeology to undertake a desk based assessment of the wreck site in 2003, and diving investigations on the site in 2003 and 2006.
 
Wessex Archaeology divers were requested to survey artefacts and key features on the wreck using tracked diver positioning, and to produce a site plan based on measurements between identified features. The survey was to pay particular attention to features that might be at risk, such as the sternpost and rudder. Existing plans made by SeaDive and multibeam acoustic survey data provided by RASSE were available to aid our dive team meet their objectives.

Deck timbers at the Stern of the Stirling Castle

Results

Diving conditions on the Stirling Castle are difficult. Fast currents can drag a diver off the site and visibility can sometimes be reduced to zero because of algae and sediments in the water.
 
Our divers were able to produce an updated site plan for the wreck although the size of this well preserved wreck means that an overall drawn plan of the site has not yet been completed. A number of artefacts in danger of being lost from the wreck were recovered and handed to English Heritage for conservation.

A coil of rope, an organic artefact on the Stirling Castle.

Map showing the location of the protected wreck Stirling Castle

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Anglo-Saxon burials found at Twyford School, Winchester

Builders working on new classrooms at Twyford School have discovered Anglo-Saxon burials. At least 12 graves have been found in a small cemetery dating back to the 7th century AD.

The bodies had been laid out in shallow graves cut into the chalk. An iron knife placed next to one of the dead is the clue to the date of the cemetery.

Rob Bosshardt the Bursar at Twyford School said, “it was a surprise when the burials were made as when the planning application was checked it was thought that there was not much likelihood of any archaeological finds. The site has been landscaped in the past. But it is an exciting find which the children will be fascinated to learn more about.”

After consulting with Tracey Matthews, archaeologist for Winchester City Council, the school called in archaeologists to do an excavation. Tracey Matthews added “an unexpected discovery like this can cause delays to building works but the school acted promptly and did the right thing.”

When the dig, which is being done by local experts Wessex Archaeology, is finished, the remains will be studied in the laboratory to establish the age and sex of the dead, and also their exact date.

Paul McCulloch, Project Manager at Wessex Archaeology said “The first time Twyford, which means ‘Two Fords’, is mentioned in historical sources is in the 7th century. We think the burials date right back to this time, about 1,300 years ago. Three or four Anglo-Saxon cemeteries of this date are already known around Winchester, including one at Oliver’s Battery and some of the finds from there are on display in Winchester Museum.”

View the photos from the excavation on Flickr.

Lost at sea: New study of plane crash sites

Thousands of planes crashed into the sea around Britain, many during WWII. At the time the planes and many of their crew were presumed to be lost for ever. But today, more and more are being found, by divers; and increasingly as a result of dredging for sand and gravel.

Part of a German saddle drum magazine for a MG15 machine-gun from a crash site off the Suffolk coast: probably of a Henkel He. 111 bomber.Part of a German saddle drum magazine for a MG15 machine-gun from a crash site off the Suffolk coast: probably of a Henkel He. 111 bomber.

The crash sites of military aeroplanes are given automatic protection under the 1986 Protection of Military Remains Act, meaning they should not be disturbed. The problem is that the location of the great majority of crash sites at sea is not known. Even known shipwreck sites have, on closer examination, recently been proved to be of aeroplanes

Around 20% of the sand and gravel used for construction in England and Wales is gathered by dredging out at sea. One unexpected result of a recent scheme for dredgers to report archaeological finds has been the routine discovery of plane crash sites, sometimes with human remains.

Euan McNeill of Wessex Archaeology explained ’staff working for aggregate companies on board the dredgers and on the wharves where the sand and gravel is processed have been given help to identify archaeological finds so they know when to call the archaeologists. A web based reporting system means that there is prompt expert feedback. Even when finds are only identified on the wharves it is still possible to track back where the gravel was dredged from.’ Planes identified this way include a Fleet Air Arm Supermarine Attacker, what is either an American B-25 or P-51 bomber, and a German Junkers JU-88 bomber.

One of our British Marine Aggregates Producers Association (BMAPA) Awareness Programme sessions.: The object is part of a Supermarine Attacker from off the Sussex coast. Photograph Elaine A. Wakefield. Wessex Archaeology.One of our British Marine Aggregates Producers Association (BMAPA) Awareness Programme sessions.: The object is part of a Supermarine Attacker from off the Sussex coast. Photograph Elaine A. Wakefield. Wessex Archaeology.

When such discoveries are made, the marine aggregate operators follow a protocol that allows an Exclusion Zone to be set up around the site and dredging stops there. The possible presence of the remains of the crew and passengers and also unexploded munitions are assessed. This can put large areas of the seabed that are otherwise suitable for dredging out of bounds until further work can be done to see if the crash site can be found.’

McNeill added ‘Many families today are still touched by this issue. It represents a challenge, both ethical and logistical, for the marine aggregate industry and heritage professionals.’

As preliminary study of the issue by Wessex Archaeology has been commissioned by English Heritage, funded through the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund.

The first phase of this study is already underway. Wessex Archaeology are asking individuals and organisations with records or specialist knowledge of aircraft crash sites or losses at sea to come forward and tell them what information they have and why they think that aircraft crash sites at sea are important. The deadline for this stage of the project is Friday November 30th, 2007.

Visit the Aircraft Crash Sites at Sea project website to find out more.

Roman stone coffin from Poundbury

Lifting the CoffinLifting the CoffinA Roman stone coffin, probably dating to the 3rd or 4th centuries AD, was found recently in archaeological excavations in Poundbury, Dorchester.

Visit our project page on the discovery of the coffin for photographs and further information.

Medieval burials found at Christchurch Park, Ipswich

Archaeologists have found a medieval cemetery, probably part of the St Margaret’s church burial ground, at Christchurch Park.

The burials were found while a new drainage system for the park renovations was being dug. Archaeologists were watching the pipe trench being dug because it was known that the cemetery, which is at least 500 years old, lay nearby but it was not known exactly where. In order to protect the burials, the route of the pipe has been re-routed across the lawns of the park.

Find out more at our Christchurch Park project website.

Blogging and digging

Staff running our 2007 practical archaeology course will be blogging about the dig each day for the next 2 weeks.

Visit our events blog to follow the course, or subscribe to the events blog RSS feed to keep up to date with the latest news from the course at Cranborne Chase in Dorset, UK.

Pan Community Archaeology Project 2007

Wessex Archaeology has been commissioned by Pan Neighbourhood Partnership to run a summer holiday archaeological dig on a small area of land behind Garden Way, Pan on the Isle of Wight.

You can follow the excavation over at our Events Blog.

Extra places on archaeology course

Due to the many requests we have had for bookings on the 2007 Practical Archaeology Course at Down Farm, Cranborne Chase, we have released 8 more places.

Book now to avoid disappointment!

Find out more at the Practical Archaeology Course 2007 homepage.

Archaeology at Heathrow Terminal 5

The Archaeology at Heathrow T5 website has been launched today by Framework Archaeology. It allows you to follow the story of the site, from the distant forests of the old stone age, to the ultra-modern terminal buildings of today. 3D visualisations and animations show how we think it may have looked, and how people might have lived.
 
For those wanting more detailed information, we have provided a suite of specialist reports for download, and a discussion about the different landscapes that evolved through time. Those who wish to find out exactly what was found, and where, can download our custom-built GIS, called the “Framework Freeviewer” and digitally dig into the site.
 
Archaeology at Heathrow T5 also provides RSS feeds for those who wish to subscribe to the site and keep track of any changes or new information.
 
Archaeology at Heathrow T5 was funded by BAA.
 

About Framework Archaeology

Framework Archaeology is a joint venture of Wessex Archaeology and Oxford Archaeology set up to work at BAA airports. Since 1998 we have undertaken large excavations at Heathrow Terminal 5 and Stansted. In addition we have carried out archaeological evaluations and smaller excavations at Gatwick, Southampton and Edinburgh airports.
 

Using our photographs

We like to see people using our photos. We post photos of our projects to Flickr, a thriving online photographic community. Many people have begun to use these photos on their own websites, desktop backgrounds and even in screensavers.
 
Images of the past are always fascinating, be they photographs of fabulous ancient treasures, or muddy trenches full of broken medieval pottery.
 
 
To actively encourage non-commercial use of our photographs, we have adopted a Creative Commons “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0” license for all of our photos hosted on Flickr, and those in our own gallery (which are in fact, one and the same).
 

What does this mean?

It means that if you see these logos near one of our photos

You are free:

  • to Share: to copy, distribute and transmit the work
  • to Remix: to adapt the work
 
Under the following conditions:
  • Attribution: You must attribute the work to Wessex Archaeology, and where possible provide a hyperlink to the URL of the original work or www.wessexarch.co.uk (but not in any way that suggests that we endorse you or your use of the work).
  • Noncommercial: You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
  • Share Alike: If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.
 
If you are in any doubt on how you can use the photos, please check the text of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license.
 

Be Creative

Put your favourite Wessex Archaeology photos on your own website, or even paint your favourite artefact (or skeleton)! Please link back to the photo page on Flickr (as per their community guidelines) or gallery/project page if copied directly from our website - this will help people to find our more about the context of the photo.
 

Why?

We hope that more widespread use of our photographs will encourage more people to learn about, or take an interest in, archaeology and history. We believe that adopting a Creative Commons license will help us to achieve this, and remove any doubt about how and where our images may be used.
 

What do I do if I want to use one of your photos commercially?

To use our images commercially please download and complete a copy of the PDF here
and return it to Pippa BradleyWe aim to answer enquiries within 10 working days.
 
 
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