Latest News


The Chain Gang


Staff and volunteers prepare decorations for our entry in local Christmas tree festivals. See the finished results at St Thomas Church, Salisbury on 29 November–4 December or at St Laurence Church, Downton on 10 and 11 December. 

For further details of the festivals please click on the links below:
By Sue Johnson, Librarian

The NAS and SCAPE Trust Conference


Wessex Archaeology delegates have returned buzzing after a conference in Glasgow where new research in coastal and underwater heritage was shared. Held at the University of Glasgow on 5 and 6 November, the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) teamed up with the SCAPE Trust (Scottish Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion) to host their annual conference. In addition to a strong Scottish research focus, international speakers presented studies from Spain, Germany, Canada and Oman.


Eight staff from the Coastal & Marine team attended, four based in the Salisbury office and four from conference sponsor Wessex Archaeology Scotland. Andrew Bicket presented a locally-relevant paper co-authored with Dan Atkinson and Robert Prescott of the Scottish Fisheries Museum Trust. His insights into early historic whaling in Scotland, and in particular the Anstruther Whale Fishing Company (1757–1762), highlighted the under-studied area of Scotland’s first major whaling industry based in the Forth. Wessex Archaeology’s recent Coastal & Marine work on behalf of the Scottish Fisheries Museum is explored here and here.
Outside the lecture theatre, Wessex Archaeology’s presence was strong with two posters displayed in the exhibition space. One featured the Galmisdale Bay wreck, located on the Isle of Eigg and surveyed during the SAMPHIRE project. The other introduced Chatham Dockyard, a site of considerable archaeological investigation by Wessex Archaeology.
Delegates were also able to discuss research and exchange ideas on our maritime cultural heritage with Wessex Archaeology staff at the sponsor exhibition stand. A huge drawcard was the colour 3D print of the Drumbeg wreck site, a fantastic visualisation technique for wreck sites which many colleagues were interested in.


The conference was also an excellent venue to promote the recently launched Marine Antiquities Scheme, funded by The Crown Estate and implemented by Wessex Archaeology. While currently contained to archaeological discoveries made in English and Welsh waters, Scottish delegates showed considerable interest in the scheme. Demonstrations of the easy-to-use MAS app and the opportunity to pick up a some of the scheme’s guides drew in delegates.
True to form, the NAS and SCAPE Trust conference ended with the raffle draw. A unanimous round of applause followed the suggestion that the remaining raffle prize, paintballing, should go to a competition between Wessex Archaeology and CITiZAN. CITiZAN – challenge accepted!

North Ridge Community School Anglo-Saxon Event

3178 Images courtesy of North Ridge Community School

In October, Wessex Archaeology North’s Alix Sperr, Maria-Elena Calderon and Emma Carter made a return visit to North Ridge Community School in Adwick-le-Street, Doncaster, to help them with their annual Anglo-Saxon celebrations.
North Ridge Community School caters for pupils with severe learning difficulties, with some pupils having additional needs. The school intake spans preschool up to the sixth form (aged 3 to 19) and it currently has around 120 pupils. The present school was built in 2008, and an archaeological excavation undertaken prior to its construction identified a small Anglo-Saxon cemetery, dating to the late 7th to late 8th century; the results of which have just been published in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal (click here for our list of recent publications). 
As part of this year’s celebrations, the school played host to two groups of visiting students from London and Sweden. 
The pupils took part in a range of activities which included the always popular Anglo-Saxon dressing up, excavating real archaeological finds from a sand pit, colouring in sheets-a-plenty, and this year Wessex Archaeology took two extra activities along: Anglo-Saxon bread and butter and brooch making.  
The bread making activity gave the pupils a hand-on opportunity to see how bread was once made. Once the basic ingredients were mixed, the children kneaded their own dough and then decorated it with seeds and oats. The bread was later baked in the school ovens. 
Butter churning proved also very popular, and the children were asked to shake a jar containing ceramic baking beans and double cream. This process emanates the churning process thought to have been used in Anglo-Saxon times and made many a sore arm from vigorous shaking! The pupils were amazed to see butter and buttermilk made after their efforts and all who tasted it agreed it was delicious.
Another opportunity for sticky messy hands was given in the brooch making activity. The pupils were given a range of craft materials and resources showing the types of brooches worn by wealthy Anglo-Saxons, and encouraged to use their imagination to create magnificent jewelled brooches and pins. Shiny metallic confetti proved particularly popular! The finished creations added the finishing touches to Anglo-Saxon dressing up, allowing the children to proudly wear their creations. 
A lot of fun was had by pupils and teachers, and the team felt honoured to be given the opportunity to spend time with the pupils of North Ridge School and their visitors. 
For more information about Wessex Archaeology's Community, Education and Outreach projects and the services we can offer, please click here or email

The Jubilee

The Jubilee is a Montrose Salmon Cobble, named in honour of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. It was built in 1977 by J. Johnston & Sons of Montrose, Angus using larch planks on a whitewood base in a clinker method. It has a total length of 7.45 m, a width of 2.9 m and weighs 2.61 tons. A central plank on the flat bottom of the boat replaces the keel while whitewood timber sheathes the larch planking and a high prow protects the vessel from coastal surf, two outboard engines were mounted on the back of the transom. 
This vessel was recorded using photogrammetry as part of our continuing programme of support for the Scottish Fisheries Museum.

The Former Titanic Works, Sheffield


Public Access Open Day
A huge thank you to all those who came along to the open day tours at the former Titanic Works, Sheffield, on Friday as part of this year’s Sheffield Design Week. We carried out four 1 hour tours on behalf of Derwent Students, Sheffield 3 and BSRE, with a super total of 20 members of the public coming along to explore the site over the course of the day. We had a fantastic time meeting new people and teaching them about the former works, and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
The former works is a Grade II listed building, and comprised four buildings set around a central yard, During the redevelopment of the site in 2008, two previously unknown crucible cellars were unearthed, adding to the one beneath the listed structure. All three cellars are retained within the Sheffield 3 student flat development. 
The former Titanic Works was established as a steel manufacturing works prior to 1850, and was remodelled between 1850 and 1890. The principal retained structures date from this period and include a nationally rare crucible furnace with two end stacks. The site produced high-quality crucible steel used for the production of Sheffield famous cutlery and tools. The crucible furnaces were decommissioned in the 1950s, with the structures of two of them being demolished above ground level and access blocked. 
To find out more about the site take a look at our Project Pages and also the Hoyle Street Publication, which includes the former Titanic Works.

Finds from Chisenbury


Our excavation at East Chisenbury with Operation Nightingale and Breaking Ground Heritage revealed a great selection of finds. Take a look at some of the particularly interesting artefacts: 
Ines Lopez Doriga found a small copper alloy figure. At present it is believed to probably be prehistoric, however as we are not certain our specialists will be investigating the object further.



Matt Smith uncovered a carved bone weaving implement; this tool has also been dated to the Early Iron Age and would have been used to push the thread tight when using a loom to weave cloth. 
A decorated spindlewhorl was uncovered by Lisa Miller. The object is made of fired clay and is dated to the Early Iron Age. Spindlewhorls were used to maintain or increase the speed of the fibres being spun by a spindle.
A Roman coin which has been identified as a dupondius of Vespasian c. 69–79 AD was uncovered by David Norcott.
Wessex Archaeology’s team of volunteers are currently processing the rest of the finds from the excavation and we are looking forward to seeing what more the clean finds reveal about this unique and important site.

Celebrating the Success of Future Scientists, Engineers and Mathematicians


Last night the University of Bath hosted a celebration event for the students who participated in the Nuffield Research Placement Scheme in the South West region. Holly Rodgers, Geoarchaeologist and Rachel Brown, Senior Community and Education Officer attended the event to support the scheme and celebrate the achievements of the students, in particular the achievements of Corrina Begley who completed a month placement with Wessex Archaeology’s Geoarchaeology and Environmental team.


The Nuffield Placements Scheme provides sixth form students with the chance to experience working in a professional research environment. A range of organisations which are working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) offer placements to students, which are organised through the Nuffield Foundation. The celebration event offered the opportunity for students to share their research and experiences from their placements. All of the research was of a very high standard and all who attended were deeply impressed with what the students had achieved over the summer.
Talks were given by a range of students and providers and demonstrated the diversity of research projects; from work in mental health to materials fit for conditions on the moon the students had it covered. Rachel provided a talk on the benefits of hosting a placement to both the organisation and the student.
We are pleased to be a placement provider for the Nuffield Research Placements Scheme and thoroughly enjoyed working with Corrina over the summer. Congratulations to all the students who were involved in the Nuffield Research Placements Scheme, you should all be very proud of what you have accomplished.

The Wreck of the Thesis

3150 A volunteer diver investigates the wreck

The Thesis is a wreck of a 19th-century steamship that sank in 1889 in the Sound of Mull. From 1994 to 2005 the Sound of Mull archaeological Project run by the Nautical Archaeology Society planned the wreck out in detail and undertook a sidescan sonar survey.

Wessex Archaeology visited the wreck briefly during the 2014 and 2015 fieldwork season of project SAMPHIRE and noted that the external hull of the bow structure had collapsed inwards. After some investigation it was decided that this was mainly due to natural degradation rather than dredging damage!

You can read all about the wreck in the Project SAMPHIRE report and on the Lochaline dive centre page about the wreck! 


MAS Video

The Marine Antiquities Scheme has released a video (click to play below) as part of its ongoing outreach programme to promote the scheme. It briefly explains the process of recording finds and, importantly, takes viewers step-by-step through using the MAS app (available from Google Play and the App Store), including the GPS and camera functions. 
The MAS, funded by The Crown Estate, was launched three months ago and, since then specialists at Wessex Archaeology have researched over 70 finds. These finds, from 19th-century clay pipes and chevron beads to the remains of a Second World War landing craft, are available on the MAS database.
3148 A ‘cutty’ pipe c. 1850–1910 recently recorded in Cornwall through the MAS
Outreach continues to engage professional and community groups through a MAS presence at events such as CITiZAN’s second annual conference Turn the Tide, Birmingham’s dive show DIVE 2016 (22–23 October 2016), the Bournemouth Skipper Expo (28–29 October 2016) and the NAS and SCAPE Trust conference (5–6 November 2016).
Please visit us at any of these events to pick up a brochure and poster and see the MAS app in action.

Modelling the Reaper


As part of our continuing programme of support for the Scottish Fisheries Museum, Wessex Archaeology Scotland visited Mackays Boatbuilders, Arbroath on the 26 September 2016 when the Fifie class sailing herring drifter Reaper was on the slip having repairs completed to her hull. Our staff undertook a photogrammetric survey of Reaper similar to those completed on the other museum fleet boats as part of the Fleet-wide Conservation Management Plan. The resultant model of Reaper allows for an accurate view of the vessel’s shape and lines, as well as identifying any areas of twist in the hull. It has also produced some rather nifty images for the Museum of their flagship in all her glory. Wessex Archaeology Scotland is proud to continue to support the work of the Scottish Fisheries Museum in their conservation and preservation of vessels, artefacts and personal stories from the Scottish fishing industry.
The model of this vessel is now on our Sketchfab site abd can be viewed below.
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