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Archaeology Podcast Success

The launch of today’s Archaeocast quietly marks a notable achievement for niche podcasting. As we launch the 6th edition of Archaeocast, our archaeology podcast, downloads of the first five have now passed the 20,000 mark. Archaeocast 6 is from the ongoing Practical Archaeology Course in Dorset.

In it you can listen to an experimental archaeologist talk about making prehistoric pottery, learn about the rich archaeology of Cranborne Chase, and get an insight into what it is like to dig for the first time with students doing the course.

Archaeocast began just a year ago, when podcasting was relatively unknown. Our goal was to achieve 250 downloads of each podcast.

Andrew Fitzpatrick of Wessex Archaeology commented, “As podcasting was an emerging medium we were cautious in our estimates. Much too cautious as it has turned out. These figures show just how much interest there is in archaeology and how effective the web is in helping to satisfy that interest. This sets a new challenge for us.”

The Sunday Times “Doors” technology supplement, has listed us in their “20 Intriguing Podcasts“:

“Enthusiastic ’cast for archaeology fans, featuring dig reports and chats with archaeologists such as Time Team’s Phil Harding, who discusses flint-knapping. A good example of a podcast that supplements a wide-ranging website.”

Archaeocast is listed in most podcast directories, as well as Apple’s iTunes podcast directory. Find out how to subscribe (it’s free!).

Archaeocast 6: Practical Archaeology Course Week 1

Listen to how prehistoric pots were made, the rich prehistory of Cranborne Chase, and hear the experiences of students on their first ever dig. The annual Practical Archaeology Course run by Wessex Archaeology returns to Down Farm on Cranborne Chase in Dorset UK.
This edition of Archaeocast marks 20,000 downloads to date!

17:14 minutes (15.78 MB)

Archaeology Course Blog

This year’s Practical Archaeology Course will run for three weeks, and we’re aiming to blog the event each day over on our Events Blog.

Be amongst the first to find out what the students on the course learn, and follow their discoveries.

Hop over to our Events Blog to follow the excavation.

In addition, a new Archaeocast (our archaeology podcast) will be recorded during the course, and if all goes well, will be released on the following Monday.

Surveying with SmartNet

We have been enthusiastic GPS users for a couple of years now but our latest acquisition of several Leica SmartNet enabled devices has changed the way we use the technology.

In the past when we needed to obtain accurate fixes for our survey work we have needed to log raw GPS data for several hours over one of our survey control points to process against the Ordnance Survey’s Active Station RINEX data. This sometimes meant that we had to be on site a whole day in advance of excavation teams. Smartnet uses the GSM/GPRS network to provide our rover units with real time correctional signals.

To begin with we upgraded our existing Leica1200 series GPS unit with a Smart Net GPRS unit. This allowed us to test the technology and check that we were getting the results we needed. A big concern was that we would have problems with GSM/GPRS cover - we tend to work in more remote locations than most land surveyors - so far though, Vodafone seem to have served us quite well.

In June we invested in a handful of Smartrovers - which were designed from the ground up to use the SmartNet technology and connect to standard mobile phones over Bluetooth. Again we were a little nervous - Bluetooth can be a temperamental technology - again we were very pleasantly surprised. The only time we have had serious problems with Bluetooth was when working near high tension cables.

We have now upgraded our old GPS500 rover unit to work with SmartNet. This is a very cost effective upgrade which gives the older equipment a very productive new lease of life.

…and the winner is..!

A big thank you to everyone who took part in our online survey. The names of all who did were entered in a prize draw to win a replica handaxe made by Phil Harding. Phil is one of our senior archaeologists, famous for his role in ‘Time Team’, but also an expert flint knapper.

The winning name was pulled from Phil’s famous hat - and the winner is W Lewis. Congratulations! Thanks again to all of you who took part in the survey, and to Phil for making the handaxe! We already know over 26,000 of you visit the site each month, and the information from the survey will tell us what you think of it and help us develop and improve it in the future.

Win a replica Stone Age handaxe!

Fill in our online survey in August and you could win a replica handaxe.

Our website is big. It now has over a thousand pages. To help us decide our future direction we have put together a short user survey. Tell us what you think of the site today, and what you would like to see in the future. There is a prize draw.

If you leave your email address when you complete the survey, you will be entered into a competition to win a replica handaxe made by Phil Harding. Phil is one of our senior archaeologists, famous for his role in ‘Time Team‘, but also an expert flint knapper.

The survey runs until August 31st and Phil will pick the lucky winner on Friday September 1st. The winner will be contacted by email.


Medieval Mayhem on National Archaeology Day

Saturday’s National Archaeology Day at Salisbury Museum was the best yet.

The theme of the day ‘Medieval Mayhem’, was obvious from the start. Visitors arriving at the museum which is next to the magnificent medieval Salisbury cathedral were played in to the sound of a pipe and tabor.

Minstrels and re-enactors helped visitors travel back in time. And activities started at the front door: with a medieval kitchen; and an armourer!

One of the most popular activities was a visit to the Apothecary’s Stall. Here herbs were pounded and pomanders made. Other activities ranged from making medieval tiles to making medieval shields. Children enjoyed the ever popular mini-digs and revelled in the chance to dress up in medieval costume.

A talk on ‘Jetties and Jambs’ showed people how to identify old buildings and then put this skill into practice with a guided tour of the historic Museum buildings. There was also chance for visitors to find out if any of the objects they had brought along with them at the Portable Antiquities Scheme stall.

A group of Salisbury’s heritage bodies clubbed together to welcome over 1,000 visitors. Salisbury Museum, which also houses the Wiltshire base for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Salisbury Cathedral, the Salisbury based Wiltshire Conservation Centre and Wessex Archaeology joined forces for the popular annual event.

Many visitors come every year, but for many others National Archaeology Day 2006 was a new experience, an exciting opportunity to find out what makes archaeology so interesting and enjoyable.

Despite the title of the day, it wasn’t mayhem. But it was medieval. And it was memorable.

(Some photos from the event, taken by a visitor, can be seen on Flickr)

Archaeocast 5: National Archaeology Week

On Saturday 15th July 2006, Wessex Archaeology, Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, and the Wiltshire Conservation Centre, celebrated the beginning of National Archaeology Week with an event called “Medieval Mayhem”.
This edition of Archaeocast gives a flavour of the happenings throughout the day, and features music from medieval musican Jonathan Weeks.

9:20 minutes (8.56 MB)

Archaeocast 5: National Archaeology Week

This week is National Archaeology Week.

Archaeocast 5 is now available for download.

You can get a flavour of the music and activities at the Archaeology Day organised by Wessex Archaeology and Salisbury Museum.

To mark National Archaeology Week, the 24 Hour Museum named Wessex Archaeology’s site, website of the week.

National Archaeology Week runs from 15th-29th July. More detail of other events on the Council for British Archaeology’s website.

Mining landscape of Cornwall and West Devon becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site

On Thursday 13 July 2006, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell announced that the mining landscape of Cornwall and West Devon has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, following a decision by the World Heritage Committee.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the mines of Cornwall and West Devon produced much of the world’s tin and copper. Substantial contributions were made to the British Industrial Revolution; technological innovation was central to mining. One of the most notable contributions was the development of powerful steam engines to pump out water and allow mining deep underground. Many of these innovations changed mining technology across the world, influencing global cultures and economies.

The engine houses can still be seen today, standing monuments to the mining of tin and copper, and the people whose livelihoods depended upon it.

Tessa Jowell said:

I am delighted that the World Heritage Committee has recognised the outstanding universal value of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape and its important contribution to national and international industrialisation. This historic area and its people have significantly influenced the development of mining and engineering culture, not just in the UK, but across the rest of the world.

To many, World Heritage status calls to mind such famous monuments as Stonehenge and the Great Wall of China. But it is important to realise that sites like the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape are as deserving of recognition and protection as their more well-known companions on the World Heritage List.

Ten areas have been identified as best representing the many different facets of Cornish mining: St Just; Hayle; Tregonning; Wendron; Camborne-Redruth; Gwennap; St Agnes; Luxulan-Charlestown; Caradon; and Tamar-Tavistock.

For further information, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Centre website.

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