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Heritage Award


Presented to Netheravon Barrow Rescue Project

Last Thursday the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) on behalf of the Ministry of Defence awarded their prestigious Heritage Award to the Netheravon Barrow Rescue project. The Heritage Award is one of the Sanctuary Awards, which are presented annually to recognise sustainability work on the defence estate.
The Netheravon Barrow Rescue project saved an important Early Bronze Age site on Salisbury Plain. Tom Theed of Landmarc and his team discovered an unusually large Early Bronze Age cremation urn in many pieces on a burial mound at Netheravon, 'excavated' by badgers. From their discovery the rescue project was launched; controlled excavation of the find spot was subsequently undertaken by Wessex Archaeology in conjunction with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Operation Nightingale. Through the excavation a range of remarkable artefacts were discovered including a bronze saw, a beautiful stone archer's wrist guard, a bronze chisel still with its antler handle and almost 1 kg of cremated human remains.  
The Early Bronze Age cremation urn was put back together by Gabby Flexer at the Wiltshire County Conservation lab in Chippenham and will eventually be displayed with other finds from the site at the Wiltshire Museum, Devizes.
It is excellent that the Netheravon Barrow Rescue project won the Heritage Award, as it highlights the superb work of all involved in the project and the importance of the site.

Commercial Diver Training Success

3211 Tom taking it in his stride

Wessex Archaeology’s own Thomas Harrison and Isger Vico Sommer have undertaken and successfully passed the commercial diver training course for the HSE Surface Supplied Ticket at the Commercial Diver Training in Fowey and Plymouth.
Over the four weeks of training, both have been trained by a great group of instructors in all the different aspects of surface supplied diving. This includes the use of Kirby Morgan bandmasks, hardhats, use of different hydraulic and pneumatic tools underwater, underwater welding and Broco burning! Further both are now certified decompression chamber operators, oxygen providers and well trained in the use of a diving cage! 
During their time with the Commercial Diver Training they stayed on two ex-Admiralty Fleet Tenders, Hambledon and Loyal Watcher, which both have been converted to excellent dive platforms! While Loyal Watcher was more SCUBA orientated Hambledon was fitted with a L.A.R.S, cage, wet-bell system, recompression chamber and comes complete with a full surface supplied diving spread!
Both Tom and Isger are ready and excited to undertake archaeological diving projects using surface supplied methods and equipment!
3212 Tom setting up the dive kit and Isger ready to go underwater welding

The Amesbury Archer Revisited


It’s been over a dozen years since a team from Wessex Archaeology was lucky enough to discover and excavate the grave of the Amesbury Archer, which still represents one of the most important prehistoric burials ever recorded in the Stonehenge landscape, or indeed from the UK as a whole.
At around 2300 BC, the Archer dates from the Beaker period, which spans the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. Oxygen Isotope analysis of his tooth enamel suggests that he originated from a considerable distance away, most probably in the Alpine region of central Europe.
His burial was not only the most richly furnished example of its type (containing five Beakers, several caches of struck flint, 17 barbed and tanged arrowheads, two stone bracers, three copper knives/daggers, a pair of gold basket ornaments, boar's tusks, and a cushion stone used for metalworking), but the gold and copper objects found are amongst the earliest examples of metal artefacts from the UK.  The presence of the cushion stone suggests that the ‘Archer’ may in fact have been a metalworker himself.


To many of the team involved this still represents one of the absolute highlights of their careers. This includes Dave Norcott (who was lucky enough to also catch the excavation of the Boscombe Bowmen grave two years after the Archer), who is pictured here giving a talk at his local school, where the children of Key Stage 2 have been learning about prehistory and the introduction of metal technology into Britain.
Dave said: ‘It’s always fantastic to be able to do a talk like this, and to have an excuse to revisit the Archer excavation – the kids are absolutely fascinated by prehistory and archaeology, and often come up with rather insightful and difficult questions. They were particularly excited by the new comic-strip adventure version of the Archer’s story, which the author had kindly donated copies of for the school library’.
The comic-strip adventure story for children has been written by Jane Brayne, a well-known archaeological illustrator who produced the original reconstruction drawings of the Archer. Her book Archer – Journey to Stonehenge is out this week on Amazon.
The academic publication The Amesbury Archer and the Boscombe Bowmen – Bell Beaker burials at Boscombe Down, Amesbury, Wiltshire is still available through Oxbow Books

Season's Greetings

Once again Wessex Archaeology is wishing clients and colleagues seasonal greetings with our own festive e-card. Our card this year was produced by Nancy Dixon and Rob Goller from our Graphics Team. Click on the arrow to run the animation, we hope you enjoy it.
Sending e-cards instead of traditional Christmas cards has enabled us to make donations to several charities. The charities supported by our six regional offices for 2016 are:

Christmas Tree Challenge

3205 Waiting to be decorated

To get everyone in the festive spirit, our regional offices (Salisbury, Bristol, Welshpool, Sheffield, Maidstone and Edinburgh) are taking part in an inter-office Christmas Tree Decorating Challenge, to be judged by you, our Social Media followers. Photos of the trees in all their creative glory will go live on Monday 12th December, and the tree with the most combined likes on Facebook and Twitter by the morning of Monday 19th December will be declared the winner…
…and for the successful office, there will be cake!

Female PPE


Archaeology, despite our best efforts, does not seem to take any notice of the seasons and therefore, as field archaeologists we are required to be out in all weathers all year round. Sometimes we are sweltering in the dust of a quarry site in August, other times we find ourselves wading through calf-deep clay mud in soggy Somerset in February. Battling with the elements as we do, having good warm and waterproof clothing is essential and is provided by Wessex. Recently Wessex has been trialling a new range of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), one that is specifically designed for female staff as, many of us realise, there is no such thing as ‘unisex sizes’. Historically there have been a number of issues for female staff regarding the clothing we use on sites; trousers, too narrow in the hip or two long in the leg; jackets that fit width-ways but come down to your knees. Besides making some of us look like we have borrowed some clothes from an older sibling, ill-fitting PPE also impedes movement and reduces its effectiveness, so we look ridiculous and get damp anyway. No more! After six months of assessing the effectiveness of the new PPE Wessex will now be offering it as an alternative to the unisex brand it currently uses. Staff who trialled the PPE have said that it affords a greater range of movement without compromising on size and that the fit is far more comfortable. In some cases, there was little difference noticed between the unisex and the female specific PPE but, as we are all different shapes and sizes this is to be expected. Hopefully more companies, not only working in heritage but in other sectors to, will recognise this need for a wider range of PPE sizes and fits and make them available to their staff in the near future. 

St Lawrence Church, Tinsley

Graveyard Survey
Following on from the highly successful three-year HLF Community Heritage project ‘Exploring Tinsley Manor’ with Heeley City Farm and Tinsley Junior School (now Tinsley Meadows), and the University of Sheffield History Department’s Unravelling Tinsley’s Court Rolls project, Wessex Archaeology Sheffield staff recently helped Heeley City Farm with an ongoing graveyard survey of St Lawrence Church in Tinsley, Sheffield. The survey is being carried out by Heeley City Farm Heritage with the help of student volunteers from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield as part of their Archaeology in the City programme. 
3200 Wessex Archaeology graveyard surveyors with Sally Rodgers of Heeley City Farm
The current church was built in 1879 on the site of an earlier (17th/18th century) church, which itself was thought to incorporate elements of a Norman chapel, the Chapel of St Leonard. In the 18th century, the renowned Sheffield antiquarian Joseph Hunter (1783–1861) described the Norman elements of the church in his South Yorkshire (a history of the Deanery of Doncaster). Michael Wood also discusses the church and chapel at length in the Tinsley Wood chapter of his 1999 book In Search of England: Journeys into the English Past. Sadly all traces of the Norman church were lost in the Victorian rebuilding. 


The earliest known date for one of the graves is 1714, whilst a parish book has records of baptisms, marriages and burials dating from 1711. The earliest graves are thought to lie around the current church and are predominantly aligned east to west, with a more formal north-east to south-west layout for burial plots beyond it. 
The volunteers have been carrying out a condition survey of the graveyard, including transcribing inscriptions for the first time, and tying this in with the burial records, index cards, and information from a churchyard plan. The records of the known burials are being digitised to provide a single database which can be easily accessed by members of the church and public. The aim of our work was to help in producing an accurate plan of the graveyard, tied into the Ordnance Survey grid, and to assist with the digital recording and database. Over 400 graves and plots were recorded over three days, including the earliest graves around the church. 
From 2017 Sheffield staff from Wessex Archaeology will be assisting Heeley Farm and Tinsley Meadows school with a new two-year HLF Community Heritage Project entitled ‘Tinsley: Time and Travel’.

Finds from the Army Basing Programme


If you are near Tidworth next Thursday (8th Decemeber 2016), why not join members of Wessex staff and hear them talking about recent archaeological work in Tidworth, Bulford and Larkhill.

New Sheffield Team Members


Wessex Archaeology’s Sheffield office has had a busy 2016 and is looking forward to an even busier 2017.  Following on from Liz Chambers addition to the team as our environmental lead, we have now added three additional project officers to our ranks. Alex Schmidt has joined us from Headland Archaeology as a Geoservices Officer and joins our growing ranks of geophysicists currently surveying the Midlands.  Alex has worked across the north of England for both Headland and Archaeological Services WYAS and has also undertaken an ERASMUS placement in the Czech Republic.


Alvaro Mora-Ottomano has joined us this week from Archaeological Research Services as a Built Heritage and Fieldwork Officer and already has a full programme of building recording work. Alvaro has worked in commercial archaeology since the late 1990s, working for several major commercial British archaeology companies, as well as spells in Spain and Oman. In addition to his above and below ground archaeological skills, Alvaro has also produced reports on lithic analysis and led training sessions for the Young Archaeologists Club.


Phil Weston joins the team as a Fieldwork Officer with over 15 years’ experience.  Phil has previously worked as a Project Officer for Archaeological Services WYAS and as a Project Manager for CFA Archaeology, and also brings lithic skills to the Sheffield office. Phil is also a volunteer leader at the Pontefract Young Archaeologists’ Club and a regular face at the YAC sessions at South Yorkshire Archaeology Day. In his short time at Wessex Phil has already been deployed hunting Vikings with the Universities of Sheffield and York and trained staff in graveyard survey, and is now working on a journal article for recent work in Stamford. 
Welcome aboard Alex, Alvaro and Phil!

Celebrating 30 years of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site

It is 30 years since the inscription of Stonehenge and Avebury onto the World Heritage list in 1986, and on 19 and 20 November the Stonehenge and Avebury WHS Coordination Unit celebrated with a conference in


 the Corn Exchange, Devizes and series of events across the World Heritage Sites. 

The Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site consists of two blocks of Wessex chalkland some 40 km apart. Individually they contain distinctive complexes of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments; together they are one of the most iconic and important prehistoric landscapes in the world.


Wessex Archaeology has been coordinating the revision of the Avebury Resource Assessment, the Research Activity in the Stonehenge Landscape and writing an Agenda and Strategy to cover both of the World Heritage Sites. These important documents were launched at the conference on Saturday 19 November and will guide future researchers and those involved in the management of these iconic sites.
You can download these documents from
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