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Coastal & Marine Training and Development

In September as part of Coastal & Marine’s skill development and programme of increasing capacity, I attended the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation (OPITO) approved Basic Offshore Safety Induction & Emergency Training (BOSIET) course with Compressed Air Emergency Breathing Systems (CAEBS) and Escape Chute Training (ECT) at Warsash Maritime Academy in Southampton.
Over three days using a mix of theory classes, practical training and tests I was instructed in how to travel safely by helicopter to offshore installations, how to live and work safely in that environment and how to respond to offshore emergencies on an installation. This was broken down into a safety induction, firefighting, self-rescue, sea survival, and helicopter safety and escape. Though very full on and serious in its content and aim, there were lighter moments during the three days, being number 15 in a line of people naming ways of raising an alarm requires some invention. The skills taught were a combination of new in many cases, such as the self-rescue, and helicopter safety and escape training, and the reinforcement of others, such as first aid and sea survival skills, so helping to build up our knowledge and competency to deal with situations we might encounter offshore or during transit. 
As a follow-up to this course myself and my colleagues in Coastal & Marine who hold BOSIET certificates have also had our shoulder measurements taken due to a change in the requirements for working offshore. This is to ensure that individuals are seated in locations in a helicopter that allow for them to exit from the nearest authorised underwater escape exit.
My successful completion of the course, along with another colleague who did the course in Aberdeen, means that Coastal & Marine’s team of BOSIET trained staff has doubled to four, plus the qualified geophysics team members, giving Wessex Archaeology extra capacity and resilience, and with many new and exciting projects coming up I look forward to a busy time ahead working with stake holders, developers, and the offshore industry.

Wylfa Head Community Archaeological Excavation

The construction of a new power station on Wylfa Head for Horizon Nuclear Power has afforded Wessex Archaeology the opportunity to explore the rich archaeological landscape of the headland. Several places of interest were identified during a phase of archaeological evaluation in 2015− 2016 and one of these locations was selected to be the focus of a community archaeological excavation. The work was enabled by a partnership between civil engineering companies Jones Brothers and Balfour Beatty.


The community excavation was focused on a large circular monument thought to be the remains of a henge. Henges date to the New Stone Age, or Neolithic period (4000 to 2500 BC), and generally consist of a roughly circular space defined by a ditch usually with an external bank. Henges are considered to be ceremonial monuments that would have been the focus of activity on certain days of the year, particularly the summer and winter equinoxes. As you stand within the monument and look around, it is easy to imagine dispersed farming communities making their way towards the henge along the shallow valleys leading inland and perhaps arriving by boat in the sandy bays to the north. 
The excavation volunteers represented a diverse cross-section of the Anglesey community and all were given the opportunity to learn the archaeological process from excavation through to recording their findings. 
Wessex Archaeology would like to thank Horizon Nuclear Power, Jones Brothers and Balfour Beatty

St. Leonard's Old Church, Sutton Veny


Wessex Archaeology has a continued interest in the exploration and development of opportunities for heritage recording and preservation provided by three-dimensional modelling techniques. As part of this interest, a photogrammetric survey of St. Leonard’s Church, Sutton Veny was undertaken by members of our Built Heritage and Geomatics teams.

St. Leonard’s Church is a partial ruin located in the village of Sutton Veny, near Warminster in south-west Wiltshire. The Grade II listed building dates to the 12th century, although it underwent revisions in the 13th and 16th centuries. The chancel, previously used as a mortuary chapel, is the only intact part of the building left, with the nave, transepts and crossing now partially ruinous following the abandonment of the church in the 1860s. The remaining walls and arches survive to a good height in many areas, with many interesting architectural details still visible. 
The church is currently in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. The Trust is a national charity operating the third largest heritage estate in charitable ownership in the UK. It ensures that the churches under its care are conserved and regenerated, allowing them to be enjoyed as ‘cultural, social, tourism and educational resources’.
The photogrammetric technique used at St. Leonard’s Church involved the taking of over 900 photographs, from a variety of viewpoints, during the course of one day. The Geomatics and Graphics teams then used computer software to combine these images into a fully animated three-dimensional model from which scaled, orthographic plans and elevations can be generated, and which can be examined and manipulated in Sketchfab for wider dissemination and appreciation. 
If you are unable to view the model please follow this link.
The results are a detailed, accurate, three-dimensional model of the church, which provides an in-depth record of its structure along with the potential for further study. In addition to providing a valuable record, the survey may contribute to the maintenance and upkeep of the building, for example by monitoring its fabric and helping to inform repair schedules.

Finding Wessex West


Owen Watts has recently taken over the role of Finds Supervisor at Wessex Archaeology West. He graduated from Sheffield University in 2010 with a degree in Historical and Classical Archaeology and has worked with Wessex Archaeology as a field technician since 2014. Owen was brought in from the field initially to assist with the very large quantity of material being recovered from a Roman kiln site. Since then he has overseen the processing, marking, sorting and packaging of nearly half a ton of Roman ceramics, as well as a wide variety of artefacts of different periods from other sites around the region. 


Owen liaises with our many in-house and external finds specialists to ensure that they get the information needed to produce assessments and reports. Aside from all the pottery one of his favourite finds in recent weeks has been an intricate 4th-century enamel brooch (pictured) as well as a quantity of coins from the same era, which are in remarkable condition. In the future he's looking forward to expanding his knowledge of different artefacts as well as working with our conservation team to learn more about the specific techniques used. 

CEI and Wessex Archaeology at AWEA Offshore WINDPOWER 2017



Wessex Archaeology and Coastal Environments Inc (CEI) have joined forces to provide a suite of world-class marine archaeological and cultural resource services designed specifically to meet the needs of offshore renewables projects in the US market.
This month we’ll be at the AWEA Offshore WINDPOWER event in New York, talking to leading figures about developments in the industry, and meeting up with developers and survey companies to discuss how we can help them meet their permitting, consenting and planning requirements. 
About us
Wessex Archaeology is the market leader in the British offshore renewables sector, having provided essential input into the development of the UK’s offshore regulatory system over the last 15 years. Wessex has supplied archaeological services for over 90% of all the UK’s offshore windfarm schemes, and has experience at all stages from pre-planning and scoping through to post-construction monitoring. CEI specializes in cultural resource management using an interdisciplinary approach and has conducted underwater archaeology for 40 years; clients have included the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and its predecessor the Minerals Management Service (MMS).
Together, our offshore renewables team brings together unparalleled expertise and capacity in archaeology, geophysics and geoarchaeology, in combination with expertise on BOEM’s Guidelines for Providing Archaeological and Historic Property Information, offshore wind farm development and cultural resource permitting, and regulatory planning for Section 106 and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
If you’re at AWEA and would like to meet up to discuss our services over coffee, please don’t hesitate to say hello or drop us an email (contacts below). 

New Discoveries at Larkhill Camp

Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by Aspire Defence Capital Works (ADCW) on behalf of the Ministry of Defence to undertake an archaeological evaluation within part of Larkhill Camp, Wiltshire. The evaluation forms part of the wider, ongoing archaeological investigations which are being undertaken in support of the regional Army Basing Programme (ABP).  
The archaeological evaluation comprised of excavations within an area proposed for redevelopment to build a new sport pitch. The excavations revealed archaeological features cut into the natural chalk geology, ranging in date from the prehistoric period through to the Second World War.  The archaeological remains also included three prehistoric inhumation burials. 


Osteological assessment has revealed that the remains from the three graves comprised those of an infant, of about 3 years of age, a teenage male of around 15−17 years and an adult female aged between 35 and 50 years.  
The infant burial had been made in a grave cut through the lower fill of an existing ditch. Over time, the latter gradually silted up sealing the grave. Prehistoric pottery was found in the ditch fill which suggests the burial is also prehistoric.
The teenage male was of a robust build and his remains show no obvious signs of pathology. He was buried in a prone position – that is face down –  but his legs were bent up behind him with his feet resting up against the side of the grave some way above the level of his head. There are indications that his grave was relatively shallow, and the unusual position of his legs would have resulted in his feet lying close to the surface; most of his foot bones are missing and there is evidence suggestive of canid gnawing to some of the surviving foot bones. Wessex Archaeology has produced an interactive 3D model of the burial and a video based upon photogrammetry undertaken of the burial remains. 


If you are unable to view the 3d model please follow this link.


The adult female was laid in a flexed position and we know such a posture is typical of – though not exclusive to – burials made between 2400 to 1600 BC.  Osteological assessment has revealed that this individual would have suffered from back pain and stiffness indicated by to pathological changes evident in her spine. 
Other finds within the location of the proposed sports pitch include prehistoric pits and ditches, worked flint, five military air raid trenches dug in a zig-zag formation and the foundations of three military buildings thought to date from the Second World War.

New Arrival in Edinburgh


Recently Chris Swales has joined Wessex Archaeology’s Edinburgh office from their Sheffield office. Chris has moved to Scotland along with his wife who has taken up a position lecturing in the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee. Chris is looking forward to the challenge of expanding the range of terrestrial projects in Scotland and Northern England as well as getting to meet new faces in the Scottish heritage sector. This means many more exciting terrestrial projects will be added to our portfolio ‘beyond the wall’! 

The Edinburgh team have made Chris feel very welcome and he is expecting a bright future for terrestrial services in the north as well as learning a great deal more about Coastal & Marine Archaeology from his new colleagues.

Congresbury Kiln


During the final stages of our excavation of a Romano-British pottery kiln at Congresbury, North Somerset, along the route of Bristol Water’s new Southern Strategic Support Main pipeline, we were pleased to welcome on to site members of the Yatton, Congresbury, Claverham and Cleeve Archaeological Research Team (YCCCART). YCCCART have been carrying out their own research into the Roman pottery industry for several years and were excited to see the first kiln site discovered since the 1960s. As well as a tour of the site YCCCART members also had the opportunity to handle some of the artefacts which had been recovered.
YCCCART members were accompanied on their visit by Cat Lodge, Archaeologist at North Somerset Council, and Mel Barge, Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Historic England. Cat Lodge said;


As part of Bristol Water’s Southern Strategic Support Main scheme, a number of new archaeological discoveries have been made, including one of the most exciting − a Romano-British pottery kiln at the end of Venus Street in Congresbury.
This is the first of its type to be excavated in over 50 years, and what an example! It’s not just the kiln itself that’s remarkable, but the substantial quantities of Congresbury Grey ware amounting to over 400 kg in weight indicate that this site, along with other kilns in the area was part of a significant pottery industry in the Roman period. 
It’s really exciting to know that we can now work towards producing an enriched typology of Congresbury Grey ware based on the variety and amount of pottery found at this site, which is mostly waster material. Archaeologists will also potentially be able to re-evaluate the extent of trading of these vessels within the region and further afield.’
To find out more about the project follow this link.

AHI 2017 Discover Heritage Awards

3679 The Award for Excellence Winners - The Vyne, National Trust - with Bob Jones MBE and Bill Bevan (AHI)



We were delighted to be the official sponsor of the AHI 2017 Discover Heritage Awards and were impressed by the quality and range of interpretation projects shortlisted. The Association for Heritage Interpretation aims to promote excellence in the practice and provision of interpretation and to gain wider recognition of interpretation as a professional activity. The judging panel had an understandably difficult task in deciding the finalists and we offer our congratulations to all the winners. 

The overall winner with the AHI Award for Excellence was Lifting The Lid Off The Vyne, Hampshire from The National Trust. A list of all award winners and runners up can be found here and may we get in early with our best wishes to all of next year’s entries.


Digging the dirt



Wessex Archaeology was recently represented at the 7th Developing International Geoarchaeology (DIG) Conference, held this year in Newcastle from the 4−7 September. DIG brings together a wide variety of researchers, practitioners and students to discuss and stimulate research and promote international scholarship in geoarchaeology. 
Alex Brown represented Wessex Archaeology and gave a talk on ‘Late-Glacial/Early Holocene palaeoenvironments and evidence for the 8.2 ka event in the Southern North Sea Basin: new Data from the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm’. The results from Dudgeon add to an increasing body of data that reveal the impact of climate change and sea-level rise on the former habitable landscapes of the North Sea.
At the end of the last ice age this landscape was characterised by open grassland with occasional dwarf birch trees. As temperatures rose the cold tundra-like landscape was transformed into a vast wooded plain. But with the warming climate came rapidly rising sea-levels, the woodland began to retreat, replaced instead by saltmarsh, tidal flats and a shallow marine environment.
The sediments also record potential links to a major geological event (called the 8.2 ka event) that occurred between 8500−8200 years ago. The collapse of the North American Laurentide ice sheet resulted in the drainage of two huge proglacial lakes (located in the area of the current Great Lakes), releasing huge volumes of fresh water into the North Atlantic, raising sea-levels by as much as an additional 2 m, and resulting in the accelerated inundation of coastal landscapes. At Dudgeon, peat deposits – representing semi-terrestrial plant communities are overlain by marine sediments, with radiocarbon dating indicating a date for inundation around 8400−8300 years ago, broadly comparable with the timing of the 8.2 ka event. Alex considered how past human communities may have perceived and reacted the rising sea-levels.
The paper was filmed along with all the other presentations and can be viewed here:
If you are unable to see the video please follow this link
Dr Alexander Brown, Senior Geoarchaeologist
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