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Sutton Down Badges

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The Sutton Mandeville Heritage Trust (SMHT) has recently announced the award from The Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the regimental badge of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which was cut into the hillside by soldiers in 1916, prior to their deployment in France for the Battle of the Somme. 
 
The Royal Warwickshire badge appeared nearby to that of the ‘Shiny 7th’ badge of the 7th (City of London) Battalion of the London Regiment, but had become overgrown and invisible until initial clearing of the site was undertaken by the SMHT. It was at this stage that Wessex Archaeology was asked to assist in restoring an accurate outline of the badges based on photogrammetry data (supplied by Callen-Lenz) from a UAV that flew over the site. This information was combined with rectified historic photographs and postcards, revealing extensive recutting of the chalk badges years after they were first made. This has resulted in the shape of the badge changing considerably. 
 
Wessex Archaeology has provided the SMHT with an outline of the Royal Warwickshire badge as true to the original cut into the hillside in 1916 as possible. This will then be laid out on site by Wessex to enable the recutting of the badge. 
 
 
 

Clay and Cake

Spring PCRG meeting at Salisbury

On Saturday 13 May 2017, the Salisbury office hosted the Prehistoric Ceramics Research Group’s AGM and Spring Meeting. In the morning, the AGM touched upon many of the challenges regarding capacity, standards and sustainability that face the wider profession. We were also pleased to welcome several new members on the day. 
 

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Over 20 people attended to listen to talks by Matt Leivers (Wessex Archaeology) and Lisa Brown (Oxford Archaeology) who spoke about the new discoveries found at the DIO sites on Salisbury Plain and at Thame (Oxfordshire, a joint project between Oxford Archaeology and Cotswold Archaeology) respectively. Both talks included unexpected discoveries of early Neolithic causewayed enclosures, and it was a great opportunity to see and handle the different styles of pottery found at both sites.  Richard Massey (Cotswold Archaeology) talked about the Deverel-Rimbury Bronze Age cremation cemetery at Heatherstone Grange on the edge of the New Forest, a site that had produced an impressive number of urns of different types including a striking number of finely made Barrel Urns. Grace Jones had kindly brought over many of these pots for people to view and Elaine Morris was on hand to share her ideas about the assemblage. Phil Andrews (Wessex Archaeology, Breaking Ground Heritage & DIO) spoke about the investigations at the East Chisenbury midden, perhaps the most impressive of all such sites in Wessex and beyond. The midden represents a massive refuse dump that accumulated during the 9th to 6th centuries BC, which today forms an extensive artificial mound some 3 m in height. Later in the day there was a chance to examine some of the fine and highly decorated pottery and compare this with a similar assemblage from a recently excavated settlement found at King’s Gate, Amesbury (Wiltshire).    
 
The afternoon workshop with its impressive array of prehistoric pots and associated finds provided much scope for discussion and the opportunity to examine and handle the many fine pots.   Between talks and pots, there was a fine array of home baked cakes to consume. 
 
If you would like to find out more about the PCRG please check our Twitter feed @PrehistCeramics
 

Forwards to the West

Three years of Wessex Archaeology West

Wessex Archaeology is one of the largest and longest-established archaeological contractors in the UK. Wessex Archaeology West is increasing WA’s geographic coverage, along with other regional offices in Kent, Yorkshire, Wales and Scotland.

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Three years ago, Wessex Archaeology West began with a small windowless office and tool store in the centre of the city and a team of technicians (diggers!). Within one year we were working from Warwickshire to Cornwall and from South Wales to the London fringe, becoming a regional office within two years. Increased turnover meant the need for physical expansion and a move in January 2016 to bigger premises at the newly built Filwood Green Business Park. Today Wessex Archaeology West boasts a much larger fieldwork team, Heritage specialists, multi-skilled Project Managers, Geophysical Survey and Community services. Recognising Bristol city’s maritime heritage, most recently we have been joined by a Senior Officer from the Wessex Coastal & Marine team.
 
In addition to delivering commercial archaeological projects and heritage advice to clients, Wessex Archaeology West has given talks and presentations to local history societies, community groups, appeared on local media and developed strong links with Bristol Culture for the annual Festival of Archaeology.
 
Several members of our team specialise in deep urban archaeology with a successful major excavation and building recording of a former slum area in Bath. Highlights of this high-profile project included locating part of the city’s medieval defensive ditch, uncovering a previously unknown 17th/18th-century footbridge, and fully excavating the remains of 40 buildings associated with Bath’s 18th-century quayside. The buildings were identified as a mixture of warehouses, factories, pubs, a public wash house known as Milk Street Baths and several brothels. 
 
Wessex Archaeology West have also assisted renovation works at Holy Trinity Church in Bradford on Avon. Our team identified a series of burials, scientifically dated to the 9th and 10th centuries, supporting the hypothesis that the medieval church stands on the site of a lost Saxon Minster. At the neighbouring 10th-century Church of St Laurence, our Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) photography has captured the most detailed image yet taken of a Saxon relief-carved alter piece. RTI has since been rolled out across other Wessex Archaeology projects.
 
Highlights of our more rural projects include the excavation of several prehistoric and Romano-British settlements near Swindon, finding evidence for Saxon continuation of occupation close to Hucclecote Roman Villa in Gloucester and assisting our head office during the excavation of a previously unknown large Romano-British roadside settlement near Beanacre, Wiltshire.
 
Wessex Archaeology West is currently involved with major infrastructure programmes in and around Bristol, Somerset, Devon and the Midlands, as well as large-scale housing developments in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. We are also assisting the expansion of the new Wessex Welshpool office’s involvement with renewable energy schemes in South and West Wales. In 2017 staff from Wessex Archaeology West are looking forwards to working as far afield as Shetland, Europe and the Channel Islands and appearing on national media. Watch this space…..or follow us on twitter @wessexwest to find out more about our exploits!
 
 
 
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New Heritage Consultant in Bristol

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Wessex Archaeology West is pleased to welcome Ruth Humphreys, our latest recruit, joining us as a Senior Heritage Consultant based at our Bristol Office. Ruth’s experience covers a broad range of sites and archaeological environments of different periods. Since 2007 she has worked for several archaeology units across the Midlands, whilst also contributing to a number of international projects in Egypt, Sudan and Greece. Since 2013 Ruth has predominantly worked on heritage assessments, including the River Thames Scheme which involved collating information on over 3000 heritage assets across several unitary authorities.
 
Ruth remains passionate about African archaeology, and enjoys expanding her understanding of the wide variety of approaches taken to heritage conservation across the globe. She recently presented a paper on early-stage archaeological intervention within the UK Planning process at a conference in Slovenia.
 

Medieval Pottery Conference

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This year’s Medieval Pottery Research Group (MPRG) conference has been organised jointly with the Centre for Historical Archaeology and the University of Leicester. Lorraine Mepham of WA has been acting for MPRG to help set up the conference programme. The conference is on the subject of ‘Ceramics and Drink’, and will take place at the University of Leicester on 2 and 3 June 2017
 
Ceramic containers were a preferred way of producing, storing, transforming, and consuming liquid beverages, and form a significant part of archaeological assemblages across Europe in the medieval and post-medieval periods. They are associated with a wide range of human activity from large-scale transnational trade, to ceremonial consumption, to intimate daily rituals within the home. This conference aims to explore the important social and economic roles that were filled by the ceramics of drink.
 
The programme features an excellent line-up of speakers, whose topics include post-medieval London pub assemblages, Lithuanian drinking innovations, Roman Catholic tea-drinkers in the Netherlands, Cambridge coffee houses and Portuguese water containers. There will also be practical demonstrations led by expert potter John Hudson. All are welcome to attend the conference, whether specialist or non-specialist - you can download the programme and registration form here
 
 

The Packhorse Inn

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South Stoke, Bath

The Packhorse Inn was one of the Bath area’s oldest and much-loved pubs. The 17th-century building, set in a large garden, is full of character: with flagstone floors, original timber beams and inglenook fireplaces. It was a refuge valued by locals and walkers alike. A cosy, friendly and quintessentially British pub!
 
The Packhorse was closed in 2012, when the brewery sold it to a private developer, but has recently been bought back by the local community after they ran successful campaign to secure the future of their village pub.  It is currently undergoing a huge transformation and refurbishment and they hope re-open later this year.
 
The pub is set within a landscape rich in history, and extensive Romano-British occupation is known in the immediate vicinity of the site.  Wessex Archaeology is currently undertaking a watching brief on groundworks in the carpark to make sure that all historic assets are correctly recorded taking the local community one step closer to re-opening.
 
Fundraising is still on-going and there are regular events and ‘pop-ups’ which are proving very popular in the area.  If you want to find out more and support this community effort you can find them on Facebook ‘Save the Packhorse’ and join them in the twittersphere @PackhorseBath
 
 
 
 

Tunnels at Larkhill

Two weeks ago we talked about the compelling WWI history of our Larkhill site with its practice trenches, tunnels and personal stories of the men that trained there. Excavations here have been undertaken by Wessex Archaeology, on behalf of WYG, for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation
This week we want to share an example of the names written onto the walls of tunnels by Australian and British soldiers trained at Larkhill. Much like the chalk block we shared last week, this collapsed tunnel intersection was recorded using photogrammetry. This area of the tunnels was discovered collapsed and was machine excavated to reveal as much as was safe.
 

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Due to the limitations of sharing a model of this size online we have had to reduce the texture quality and decimate the mesh. The result is that it is not possible to read the writing on this Sketchfab model, though it is identifiable. The screenshot below shows what is visible in our fully detailed model. Amongst the names in this tunnel are Privates Baird, Dunn, Fleming, Organ and Watson. We are continuing to research the lives and military careers of all of the named individuals we have come across at Larkhill and intend to release more details in the future.
 
This model also gives us the opportunity to discuss the technique of photogrammetry a bit more and some of the limitations we faced in recording this tunnel intersection.
 
Photogrammetry involves taking multiple photographs of the subject, covering every surface of it which is visible. By ensuring there is sufficient overlap between these photos, and that they contain all of the details that you are interested in you are able to generate a 3D model using photogrammetric software. This functions by identifying common points within different photographs, working out where each of the photographs were taken from based on this information, and then using the photographs to create a three-dimensional mesh. This mesh is then overlain with a texture generated by combining the colour information from all of the photos used in the creation of the model. 
 
As this technique relies on photography, lighting and access are key issues. In the case of this tunnel both were problematic. The bright chalk reflects the sunlight very strongly in exposed areas, whilst the areas still underground are considerably darker. Trying to expose photographs to deal with these two extremes can be tricky, and in order to avoid over exposure in the brighter areas, where soldiers had written their names, it was necessary to leave the darker areas under exposed. In addition to this, health and safety considerations of working in a collapsed tunnel meant that we could not send anyone into the covered areas, limiting our ability to photograph all areas of the tunnel intersection. The result of these two factors is a loss of detail, and some areas not being modelled, leaving holes in the mesh. These have been infilled to create a complete solid, and you will be able to identify areas where this has been done.
 
What this demonstrates however, is that even in the most difficult of circumstances we can produce a high quality model that gives us a better record of our heritage than otherwise available. In this case we have been able to record not just the writing of the soldiers training at Larkhill, but the position of that writing, and a number of other features that tell little stories about how this tunnel intersection was used. It is this extra context that can really bring archaeology to life.
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We will be releasing more 3D models in the weeks to come, but for now see if you can find the writing in the model; there are more names we’ve not shown you! If you would like to discuss using Wessex Archaeology’s photogrammetric recording services, please get in touch. 
 

My First Week in the Coastal & Marine Team

I am very happy to be the new archaeologist joining the Coastal & Marine team at Wessex Archaeology in the Salisbury office! My first week has given me an insight in to some of the various future work I will be involved with as part of this brilliant team.
 

Marine Aggregate Industry Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries

The first project I have been working on and will continue to work on during my time here is the
Marine Aggregate Industry Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries. This scheme, funded by The Crown Estate and the British Marine Aggregate Producer’s Association and implemented by Wessex Archaeology has just entered in to its 12th year of existence where by archaeological finds discovered during dredging works are reported. The scheme was put in place to keep an archaeological record of material that may otherwise be thrown away as waste material and as a result, over 1600 finds have been reported since its launch in 2005. The aim of the Protocol is to raise awareness among dredging or construction companies about archaeological finds that they may encounter in the maritime environment and the importance of recording them and making the correct people aware of their existence. It is very simple for the companies to report a find through online forms and once these (along with photographs) are uploaded to the online system, Wessex Archaeology can then take the necessary steps to make sure the information reaches the relevant people such as the Receiver of Wreck. There are information booklets online on the Protocol and how to report finds and awareness talks can be requested by companies so that a member of the Protocol Implementation Team at Wessex Archaeology will come and speak to them directly about the scheme and answer any questions.
 
During my first week, I downloaded the information that had been uploaded for two new finds that were reported and submitted to the online system on Monday 24 April 2017. The two items reported by the same vessel were a brass porthole ring and a brass and copper pipe coupler, possibly used for fuel pipes. The archaeological reports were drawn up and the Nominated Contact of the dredging company along with the Receiver of Wreck were informed. Once these were sent, I researched both items to gather more information about their date and possible use, enlisting the help of a specialist to identify the pipe coupler and its possible function. This information, along with the find’s track plot and finder are compiled into two reports (Wharf and MIDAS) and sent to the client who reported the item, the Receiver of Wreck, and to external bodies such as Historic England and the local Historic Environment Record.
 
Another aspect of this project is the geospatial data. All the finds recovered since the project’s inception in 2005 are recorded and plotted on to a single map using each finds individual track plot or given coordinates. By doing this, we can see the spread of finds and the regions where most finds are reported. The lack of finds in some regions may be due to the type of aggregate being recovered, however, the masses of finds from other regions shows the success of the Protocol overall.
 
The last phase of finds reporting is that the items are shared with the public through social media as a means of outreach and engagement to get the public excited about maritime archaeological finds. Through Marine Aggregate Industry Protocol for Archaeological Discoveries, companies at construction level are being made aware of archaeological finds and the importance of reporting them, the information about the objects are then registered in the correct places and the public are made aware of these new discoveries. It is hoped that through constant outreach in this way that archaeology will become a subject that everyone gives a second thought to and hopefully will aid in preserving our underwater heritage for the future.
 

Tarmac_0779: Porthole Ring

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This brass porthole ring was discovered in Licence Area 395/1 in the South Coast dredging region, approximately 12 km south-west of Selsey Bill. The remains do not include the second frame that would have been hinged to the remaining frame and would have contained the glass or the deadlight (a metal plate that was both a curtain and a reinforcement against heavy seas). This porthole ring has an internal diameter of 260 mm.
 
Portholes have been used for centuries to allow light and ventilation to enter the lower, darker levels of vessels and in some early cases, as a means of seeing out of a submersible. Portholes are watertight and are generally crafted from glass, secured within a metal frame that is then bolted to the vessel. The popular metals that are used to create the frame of the portholes are bronze and brass because these metals are less corrosive in saltwater. Modern types such as Tarmac_0779, appeared in 1863, where a hinged frame containing the glass would be attached along with the deadlight. 
 
It is possible that this item came from a wreck and due to the fracture damage evident from the photographs, may have been removed from the wreck site by salvagers. The second frame attached via a hinge has been broken off, possibly as a result of damage caused by a wrecking event or due to a diver removing the item from a wreck and taking the glass element. Equally, the damage could have been caused whilst the vessel was in harbour and the glass element was salvaged to be reused with another frame, whilst remains of the damaged frame were discarded in to the sea.
 
By Lowri Roberts, Archaeologist
 
 

Larkhill Graffiti on ANZAC Day

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In preparation for building Service Family Accommodation at Larkhill, Wessex Archaeology has identified and excavated a large array of WWI practise trenches. This complex of trenches is where British and Commonwealth soldiers were trained in advance of their mobilisation to the theatre of war and was in use from 1915 to 1918. The area was later used to train forces in advance of WWII and even into the 1970s.
 
In the process of excavation, archaeologists have identified graffiti left by some of the soldiers and have identified records of the presence of others through archived documents. These included a significant proportion of Australian signatures and details which have allowed us to identify some of the soldiers, research some of their stories, and on some occasions – contact their descendants.
 
The archaeologists have uncovered profound moments in time, written by soldiers before going off to the hell of the trenches on the front line. While many of these soldiers’ lives ended in tragedy, sometimes there is a happy tale to come out of the war. One such example is George John Bayley (identified via archive records) who travelled from country Victoria, Australia to Larkhill and back again. But in the travails of war, he found his sweetheart and took her home. 
 
George John Bayley from Ballarat, Victoria, in southern Australia, enlisted with the 37th Battalion Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and travelled to the UK on HMAT Persic leaving from Melbourne on 3rd June 1916. While training at Larkhill, George met and fell in love with Beatrice Ethel ‘Phyllis’ Parsons from Wilton, Salisbury, UK, and married her after surviving WWI. 
 
George took Phyllis back to Australia after the war and George worked as the Stationmaster for Sheep Hills Railway Station in country north-west Victoria and then Mont Albert Railway Station in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria. George and Phyllis lived a long and happy life, blessed with children. On the death of his wife, George went to live with his daughter, Berenice but he died of a ‘broken heart’ about four months later. 
 
The body of data from the Larkhill graffiti is likely to increase as the investigations continue and there are many more stories to tell, particularly those of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). In the centenary years of that horrendous conflict, we should all stop to remember those who made such sacrifices. 
 
Lest we forget on this ANZAC Day.
 
Simon Cleggett, Project Manager and Peta Knott, Archaeologist
 
Copyright historic images www.ancestry.co.uk
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WW1 Trenches Beneath Wiltshire Reveals an Australian Hero

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Lawrence Carthage Weathers VC
Wessex Archaeology working in Wiltshire has identified a unique network of First World War tunnels under Salisbury Plain. The tunnels are part of a First World War battlefield used to train men to fight in and under the trenches of France and Belgium. The soldiers have left the mine galleries deep in the Wiltshire chalk but they have also left their names – over a hundred inscriptions written by soldiers training on Salisbury Plain between 1915 and 1918.
 
Martin Brown (WYG) Archaeological Consultant to the Army Basing Project said:
This is the first time anyone has found and excavated tunnels used to train the sappers and miners before they were deployed overseas. We have found them as part of the largest single investigation of First World War training trenches anywhere in the world. Our excavations have revealed this story for the first time. That we didn’t expect these underground remains shows that much is left to be discovered, even from only a century ago.
 
The tunnels are beneath a network of trenches that recreate the battlefields of France. Wessex Archaeology has cleared 8 km of trenches, working alongside bomb disposal specialists Bactec as significant numbers of grenades were still live.
 
Men from Australia, New Zealand and Canada travelled to Larkhill in their thousands to train on this unique battlefield alongside British troops after their enthusiastic enlistment. 
 
In the process of excavating the trench systems, our archaeologists often came face to face with graffiti carved into the chalk entrances to tunnels. Many of our archaeologists are of a similar age to that of the soldiers who left their mark here, and to stand in their footsteps and read their names almost a hundred years to the day was a deeply profound experience.

 

A significant proportion of the graffiti was left by Australian soldiers – often recording names, service numbers, unit details and on some occasions, cartoon-like figures. 
 
We hope that further research will enable us to understand the stories of these men. It is hoped that descendants of the soldiers will take part in this endeavour by adding greater levels of detail through stories, diaries and photographs. 
 
The Australian War Memorial hold service records for huge numbers of servicemen and already, Wessex Archaeology staff have found themselves looking in to the eyes of the graffiti artists by finding photographs! This has been an incredibly moving experience.
 
The Australian War Memorial reminds us that:
For Australia, the First World War remains the costliest conflict in terms of deaths and casualties. From a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 men enlisted, of whom more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner.
 
Having signed their names on enlistment in Australia, these men travelled nine and a half thousand miles to Larkhill where they signed their names in the chalk of Salisbury Plain. Their emblem ‘The Shivering Kangaroo’ provides an insight into the positively balmy temperatures the Aussies endured during their training here!
 
That training prepared the men for warfare above and below ground before their embarkation for the horrors of France and Belgium. Grenade training at Larkhill produced highly efficient ‘bombers’ who went on to clear enemy trenches whilst in the thick of it.
 

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As Australia commemorates ANZAC Day, we would like to share an amazing find with you.
 
Corporal Lawrence Carthage Weathers was born in New Zealand before moving to Australia as a boy. After leaving school, Lawrence worked as an undertaker in Adelaide. In early 1916 and at the age of 26, Lawrence enlisted with the 43rd Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force and embarked for training at Larkhill in June 1916 and reached the Western Front by November 1916. 
 
Lawrence was wounded several times and gassed in his time in the trenches. On 2 September 1918 near the village of Allaines during the battle of Mont Saint-Quentin, Lawrence- armed with grenades- stormed the trench parapets of well-defended enemy lines. Under withering fire, Lawrence delivered his grenades with great effect and ran back to his lines to collect more. Returning to finish the job, Lawrence cleared the enemy trenches allowing the capture of three machine guns and 180 German prisoners!
 
For his most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty, Lawrence was awarded the Victoria Cross but sadly, he was killed during an artillery barrage on 29 September 1918 without knowing he would receive the honour. 
 

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Our archaeologists discovered a list of names pencilled on to a block of chalk at Larkhill that included that of L.C. Weathers.
 
Clearly then, his grenade training at Larkhill stood him in good stead, but no amount of training can provide bravery of that calibre. For our archaeologists it has been an awe-inspiring season of excavation. It is not every day that an archaeologist can stand in the footprints of people like Lawrence Weathers, read their names and know their fates. 
 
There will be many, many more stories to tell of lives lived and lost during the tumultuous days of First World War. The unique Larkhill battlefield echoes with voices into the centenary years and we look forward to ensuring that you hear all of them.
 
 
Copyright historic images Australian War Memorial.
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