- About Us
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.
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.
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’.
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!
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 www.stonehengeandaveburywhs.org
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
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!
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 email@example.com
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.
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.