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Aggregate and Archaeology

The offshore dredging industry provides around 20% of the aggregate needed for construction projects across the UK and although all dredging areas are assessed for archaeological potential prior to the granting of the licence, archaeological finds may still be encountered. The dredging process involves extracting sands and gravels from the sea floor and transporting the material in cargos to individual wharves where it is processed for use in the construction industry. As part of the Marine Aggregate Industry Archaeological Protocol, Wessex Archaeology collaborate with Brett Aggregates Ltd, CEMEX UK Materials Ltd, Lafarge Tarmac Ltd, Hanson Aggregates and Kendall Bros Ltd who have UK based wharves as well as international ones.
Every year, members of the Coastal & Marine section visit these wharves to discuss and promote the Protocol. As a team, we believe that the success of the Protocol is maintained through our close relationships with the wharves and the face to face interaction that occurs during our visits.


So far this year, Lowri has visited the following wharves:
  • Brett Aggregates Ltd, Cliffe Wharf, Kent;
  • CEMEX UK Materials Ltd, Wessex Wharf, Poole;
  • Tarmac Limited, Burnley Wharf, Southampton;
  • CEMEX UK Materials Ltd, Northfleet Wharf, Kent;
  • CEMEX UK Materials Ltd, Brighton Wharf, West Sussex; and
  • Brett Aggregates Ltd, Ipswich Port, Suffolk.
During these visits, we give a short presentation to wharf staff and discuss the different types of archaeological material that may be encountered as well as how it may reach the marine environment. We also bring a collection of finds with us to demonstrate the variety of artefacts that have been reported since the Protocol was first implemented in 2005 so that they know what sort of things to look out for. 


We have enjoyed hearing stories of objects that have been found by individuals who have attended these talks over the years and it is great to see some of the finders reunited with their finds! During the Brighton Wharf visit, Michael Pettitt (pictured) was reunited with the beautiful relish pot that he found and reported in 2009. The pot depicted battle scenes from a Napoleonic period. A partial inscription reads ‘the battle of the A…’ with the final word being missing except for the first letter ‘A’. Looking at Napoleonic Battles with a name beginning with an ‘A’ only 11 examples exist and of this only one battle has ‘the’ before the place name. This is the Battle of la Albuera, which was a small Spanish village where a mixed force of Spanish, Portuguese and British corps faced elements of the French Army of the South on the 16 May 1811. Both sides faced heavy casualties but the French Army was eventually forced to retreat. 
This year, we have received some great feedback and suggestions from wharf staff that will help in making the Protocol an even bigger success. As a team, we would like to thank all the wharves we have visited this year for your enthusiasm and making the experience a very enjoyable one for us. You are all amazing, keep up the good work!

Struck Flint from the Seabed off Great Yarmouth

The Marine Aggregate Industry Archaeological Protocol encourages the reporting and recording of maritime archaeological finds discovered by the aggregate industry during dredging works. The discoveries that come to light form a database of maritime archaeological finds that otherwise may have been discarded as waste material, and the records of these discoveries are shared with local and national archaeological curators, making them accessible to everyone. Over 1600 finds have been reported through the Protocol since its launch in 2005, ranging from metal artefacts to timber and flints. 
In May 2006, a collection of artefacts was reported from the Steenkorrel Wharf in Amsterdam. The material came from a load dredged by the CEMEX vessel Sand Falcon from licence area 360 off Great Yarmouth in February 2006. The collection was found to contain wood, peat, mineralised bone, antler and a single piece of struck flint. 


The struck flint was identified as man made by Matt Leivers, a flint specialist here at Wessex Archaeology. The nature of the recovery of the remains means that it is not possible to guarantee that all the items are contemporary. However, the presence of reworked fragments of peat is certainly suggestive that the material has eroded out of a peat layer. If we assume that the material is broadly contemporary then a submerged terrestrial land surface, probably of early Mesolithic date (c. 8500 BC), is the most likely origin of the material. During the last Ice Age a greater proportion of the world’s water was incorporated in ice sheets and sea level dropped. As a result, large expanses of land, now forming the seabed of the North Sea and the English Channel, were available for human habitation. At the end of the Ice Age, sea levels rose as the ice sheets melted and these areas became submerged. Many of these former terrestrial landscapes lie preserved on the seabed. The study of submerged prehistoric landscapes and associated archaeological deposits is still a young science and discoveries of such land surfaces are incredibly important for our understanding of the nature and distribution of prehistoric settlements. The field promises to provide a different and valuable source of information about prehistoric peoples and has the potential to expand our knowledge of those societies and inform terrestrial archaeology, possibly even to transform the currently prevalent, terrestrial perspective itself.

Altared Images – Presenting a Roman Altar in York

3547 © The Friends of St. Mary’s Bishophill Jnr. York
On Saturday 5 August 2017 Wessex Archaeology was invited to address the Bishophill History Group about our recent investigations at the former Oliver House, 20 Bishophill, York. We were invited by Graeme Thomas who is also a church warden at St Mary’s Bishophill, which was the venue for the talk. St Mary’s boasts a Saxon tower and contains impressive fragments of early medieval carvings and is well worth a visit. Attendance was good with 69 people filling the pews, which is a credit to the strength of interest in the area and to the hard work of the Bishophill group.

3549 © The Friends of St. Mary’s Bishophill Jnr. York

The archaeological work on the site comprised a series of watching briefs and the excavation of three trial trenches. The most recent watching brief recorded the foundations and cellars of Victorian housing which had previously occupied the site. The trenches went deeper and passed through what was probably the garden soil from the medieval Holy Trinity Priory, down into Roman layers. A series of ‘robber’ trenches were recorded where Roman building materials had been removed for reuse. This removal probably occurred in Roman times. Several surfaces were also seen which probably represent a yard or possibly a road. Finds including glass and painted wall plaster were recovered which were exhibited on Saturday. The construction of new dwellings on the site is underway and the construction project has been designed not to impact the buried archaeology, which is preserved in situ on the site.


However, the star of the show was a Roman altar recovered from the backfill of a Victorian cellar where it was mixed with other rubble. The altar has already been featured on the Wessex Archaeology blog and the attendees were impressed to receive a demonstration of the specialist RTI photography which had revealed carvings of a jug and a libation dish known as a patera. The altar has had a deep bowl carved into the top which probably represents adaptation into a bird bath or planter, perhaps in Victorian times.
Wessex Archaeology is grateful to the Bishophill History Group for the chance to share our results with the public and also to the developer who commissioned the work via CgMs Consulting.
By Ashley Tuck

You Can’t Rain on our Festival of Archaeology!


On the 26 July, despite the traditional British summertime weather, Wessex Archaeology was thrilled to be part of an event held as part of the Festival of Archaeology at Pontefract Castle. Around 200 visitors joined us in our exploration of finds recovered during the works at the Royal Apartments, journeying through the mists of time to discover what people were eating, drinking from and surrounding themselves with hundreds of years ago. 


Visitors had the chance to get hands-on with history; washing animal bone and ceramics only a couple of hundred metres away from where they were used and discarded, to be recovered hundreds of years later during our excavations. Younger visitors were not left wanting with the opportunity to build coil pots and dress up in Anglo-Saxon costume.
Artefacts from the castle’s gory past during the civil war were on display, including musket balls found during works to open up the Sally Port and one of the cannon balls recovered from the walls of the keep during the conservation work. Pontefract’s more recent past also came to life in the form of 19th-century tea pots and a commemorative George VI mug. 
By Hannah Holbrook

Festival of Archaeology open day at Hollis Croft and former Titanic Works: It was a great success!

‘It belongs in a museum!’  − these words, said by Indiana Jones often ring out from members of the public when we get a chance to talk about what we have found in our careers as commercial archaeologists. But rather than merely hear tales of treasure, Wessex Archaeology was able to welcome 40 members of the public onto our hotly anticipated site tours of Hollis Croft, and 24 members of the public at the former Titanic Works, Sheffield as part of the Festival of Archaeology on Friday 20 July 2017. 


Sheffield wears its identity as the ‘Steel City’ with pride, and the opportunity to explore the industrial past that gives our seven hills its namesake was taken up with avid enthusiasm by the media and public alike. At Hollis Croft, we started off with in-house filming from Wessex Archaeology's film crew of one, Rob Goller, (pic. 1) who began our visual archive of the cementation furnaces and interviews with our very own women of steel, Mili Rajic, Project Manager and Emma Carter, Site Supervisor. The complex industrial landscape at Hollis Croft was artfully unpicked and explained into Rob’s camera which gave both Mili and Emma a chance to warm up before ITV, BBC Look North, BBC Radio Sheffield and The Sheffield Star came to do interviews later that day! (pic. 2). 
Further down the hill, Lucy Dawson, Built Heritage Project Manager, and Chris Breeden, Spatial Data and Digital Innovation Manager, were carrying out the important gas safety checks donning full breathing apparatus and setting up temporary lighting within the preserved and Grade II listed crucible furnace cellars at the former Titanic Works  in preparation of the media heading to them after being wowed at Hollis Croft (pic. 3). The confined spaces of the cellars meant that only a small number of people were allowed within them at any one time (pic. 4). 
The level of preservation at Hollis Croft and the former Titanic Works makes both sites very special, expressed at Titanic Works by its listing and preservation in situ, and to have the passion and interest shared by the media was a wonderful experience. What we didn't anticipate, however, was the sheer number of members of the public who also shared our enthusiasm for the archaeology (pic. 5). After Mili’s two radio interviews on Friday morning (BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Sheffield) the Hollis Croft site began to receive a steady stream of visitors keen to explore their curiosity for the site. Our places on the organised four tours across both sites had already been filled and yet more and more people with interests and even family connections to the sites wished and queued to have a place on the tours. Thanks to thinking on our feet and the extra supply of PPE we were able to offer additional places on our tours at Hollis Croft throughout the day (pic. 6). Unfortunately, this was not possible at Titanic Works due to the confined spaces. Rob headed to the Titanic Works site on the Friday morning to continue the in-house filming of the site and one of the tours. 
We often look at archaeology from the removed position of the present, but Hollis Croft and the former Titanic Works brought out some very real, poignant memories from our visitors, not least the two ladies who had worked in Sheffield’s cutlery factory and also a member of the public whose family owned business Foot Print Tools which stood on the site at Hollis Croft prior to its demolition and development. It is these first-hand accounts and connections that bring the past alive and we are very grateful for the vast interest and kind words from the public for our sites and our work. 
Some things indeed ‘belong in a museum’, but we are very fortunate to be given the chance to store those relics through memory and experience of the people of Sheffield.
We have been inundated with further requests for tours and we were able to offer a second opportunity to see the Hollis Croft site with two guided tours on Friday 28 July. 
In addition, please keep an eye out for further information about future open days at the former Titanic Works. Watch this space!
A very big thank you goes to everyone at Wessex Archaeology Sheffield office and especially to people who over the last four months worked hard at Hollis Croft: Emma, Amy, Gwen, Justina, Otis, Owen, Ifi, Max, Ciaran, James, Chris, Andrea, Caroline, Alvaro, Ash, Dan, Phil, Nick, Heather, Jonathan, Jamal, Sam, Matt, Mike, Adam and Stu.
A big thank you also to SYAS Principal Archaeologist Dinah Saich, to Katy Taylor from TT Communications and to our clients Jonson Associates and Watkins Jones. 
Emma Carter (Archaeologist), Lucy Dawson (Project Manager, Built Heritage) and Mili Rajic (Senior Archaeologist)

Round-houses Found at Chisenbury Midden

3525 Image copyright

A second, very successful season has just been completed at this remarkable Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age midden site by Wessex Archaeology working with Operation Nightingale and Breaking Ground Heritage, supported by Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Landmarc.

3528 Image copyright Steve Thompson

In 2016 we focused on the substantial ditch and bank which enclosed the midden, this year we went in search of contemporary buildings. Opening up a 20 x 20 m area over a complex of postholes identified in 2016, we revealed at least 100 more, many of them substantial, associated with various timber structures. A number of phases are indicated, and amongst the plethora of postholes we identified the majority of two roundhouses, each with a diameter of approximately 11 m. Virtually all of the postholes produced pottery and animal bone, there were several bone spinning/weaving tools, as well as fragments of quern stones.
Recording was completed and the site backfilled shortly before a deluge late Friday afternoon. A huge amount was accomplished in two weeks, to a very high standard, shedding further light on what is an important, possibly unique site. As well as the excavations and sitting round the camp fire, there was the opportunity to do some clay modelling, engage in iron smithing and enjoy a feast of Iron Age food.

Searching for the Gatehouse


Salisbury Museum
Festival of Archaeology 2017
In what has rapidly become an annual institution, Phil Harding and Lorraine Mepham joined this year’s Festival of Archaeology to dig a hole in the Museum’s front garden. The aim was to find evidence of the gatehouse for the King’s House which was listed in the Parliamentary Survey of 1649, and depicted in a sketch from 1799, but of which there is now no trace above ground. A preliminary geophysical survey picked up responses suggesting walls, and a 1-metre square test pit was placed to pick up one of these. Work started on Saturday morning, and the remains of the wall were swiftly uncovered. By late afternoon we had exposed the wall down to its foundations, and dug through a series of layers, including a medieval make-up layer containing many fragments of roof tiles, possibly hardcore used to raise the ground level. We were fortunate enough to find good dating evidence for the gatehouse too – a clay tobacco pipe with a maker’s mark came up from the wall’s construction cut, and this could be dated quite closely to the middle of the 17th century, just before the time of the Parliamentary Survey. Rubble from the gatehouse’s demolition included pottery sherds and a glass bottle dating to the late 18th or early 19th century, and once more this tallied with the historical sources – there is a documentary note of the demolition in 1803. The owner of the King’s House at the time was said to have kept a good wine cellar, so the glass bottle that we found could well have come from this! Thanks to Adrian Green and to Owain Hughes of Salisbury Museum for inviting us back to the Festival, and to all those who turned out to visit, despite the weather. We were very glad of our gazebo covering!

My Working Experience of Wessex Archaeology

I applied to Wessex Archaeology in early September 2016, getting my application in early to make sure I had a good opportunity of obtaining my chosen work experience. I was interviewed by Rachel Brown, who is in charge of all educational activities within WA. During the interview, I was told what to expect and given a tour of all the facilities. Rachel emailed me about a week before my placement to provide me with my timetable and reminders of what to wear for my field visit on the Wednesday. When this came through, it excited me about what I was going to do. It reminded me how much to the company there was, that there were many computer-based departments as well as the standard archaeology units.  

Monday 10 July – First Day

I arrived for 9:30, making sure I had everything I needed in my rucksack. I was told in the email that I would be met by Linda, who is using her leadership role to embed the quality approach in the heart of the business and make sure it aligns with its strategy and objectives. I met Linda in her office, where she took me to Rachel’s room to brief me on everything to watch out for and how to lift heavy items. She also showed me a PowerPoint to do with Health & Safety. She then gave me a tour around the main building, showing me everything including Heritage, Geophysics, Archives, Finds and where to meet in the case of a fire. 


The first department I was working with was Finds, and I was working with Sophie. This was a great place to start as it introduced me to some of the artefacts that they dealt with. We chose a box which had come back from a site. This contained many bags of flint, animal bone and a few other bits and pieces. I chose the animal bone as this looked interesting, which would take me through the morning quite nicely. I had small bones from the feet, to larger bones from the leg. Some of these animal bones contained small holes running down the middle of them. I had to get a stick and a toothbrush to get inside this to clean out all the mud and small pebbles. Overall, this was a great place to start with as the work was interesting and for me, it was an enjoyable place to start the week. Many of the other people working with me were very welcoming and easy to approach. 
In the afternoon, I worked with Roberta and Vi in Geomatics. Here, they use many different techniques to create 3d models and site plans. They use laser scanners, which tells you the distance between an object and the scanner, which will then build up a 3d model or point cloud. The other technique they use is photogrammetry. This is where a person takes approximately 50 photos, which is then used in a programme called ReMake. This creates a 3D image of the item you are photographing. This was fun as I used a serious camera to take the photos and saw these photos progress into an image I could see in a 3D model on the computer. Roberta and Vi carefully explained about what they did as I had never seen anything like that before. I must thank them for that or I may have never understood what they did!


Tuesday 11 July – Second Day

Again, I arrived for 9:30 at Wessex. I was greeted by the receptionist who took me to Rachel’s office. I had a brief talk with Rachel about what I did on the Monday and I expressed my interest in what I had seen already. After that I was taken to meet Sam, who I was joining for the morning. There we were doing some sample processing. She showed me the ropes and with a bit of assistance, I quickly got the hang of it. We had buckets full of artefacts (and mud) which we filtered through a large tank. Anything that did not float was left at the bottom whilst we scooped out part of the ‘sample’ and put into a sieve. We then put these sieves into a small oven to dry off, which took 2−3 days. I managed to do about five buckets during my morning with her. I thought this was about average until I saw the masses of buckets they have to do. They have a tiring job! However, she told me that not every bucket will be done, they just have to record that it has come to WA.
In the afternoon, I was working with Naomi in the Heritage Department. They use many applications such as Google Earth, as well as external sources such as archives and records offices to aid them in their analysis of the site. These guys are the ones to ‘scope’ the area and look for potential archaeology if a new housing estate wants to be built on a certain area. They have quite an important role because if a housing estate was to be built on an area with significant archeologically importance, it might damage the archaeology.
I want to thank Sam and Naomi for giving up their time and showing me what they do for the company. It was really eye-opening, so thank you. 


Wednesday 12 July – Third day and Site day

On the Wednesday, we visited a site at Chisenbury, North of Salisbury. They had just started to excavate the site and I was lucky to get involved in the digging of it. The site was being run by Project Manager Phil Andrews, who showed me around and made me feel very welcome with the rest of the team. The site was part of Breaking Ground Heritage and Operation Nightingale. There was believed to be an Iron Age roundhouse in the trench. You could actually see this by the dark sports making up the shape of a roundhouse. I and the others were excavating these dark areas to look for anything that might help identify who lived here and what it was used for. I found many bits of pottery, all of which were pretty small. I also found some animal bone which was identified as pigs tooth. For me, this was great because I was doing what most people know archaeology to be. I was doing what most people know archaeology to be. A tooth might not be the most interesting, but I found it really exciting to be finding that for myself. I would like to thank Rachel and Phil for organising this for me. Phil allowed me to come on site so I would like to thank him and his assistant for showing me and making me feel welcome. (Also, the rain kept off which was good!).

Thursday 13 July – Fourth Day

Today I worked with Coastal & Marine in the morning and then Archives in the afternoon. In the morning, I was working with Alistair and then Joaquin. Alistair showed me a PowerPoint which explained what they find and what procedures they have to follow. He also told me what locations he and others had visited, including finding a whole WW1 aircraft, with all the pieces still together. After this Joaquin took me over the storage room. This was where they kept all their diving gear, including containers, weights, jackets, dry and wet suits, helmet gear and how the air you carry is supplied to you while diving. However, the most interesting part for me was looking at some of the artefacts in there as well, this included a gigantic wooden keel. It was nearly half as long as the room! 
Also in the room was old aircraft parts, including a propeller. Towards the end of my time with Joaquin in Costal & Marine, I was helping him prepare an upcoming dive. He had a three-page checklist in which he checked he had everything and I would tick it off the list. It was interesting to see how much they need to take with them.
Thanks Alistair and Joaquin for an insightful Thursday morning.
As I said earlier, I was with Archives in the afternoon for the last part of that day. I was working with Tom who deals with a lot of digital data. He was telling me, along with his colleague that before digitalisation there was a massive amount of paperwork involved. Today, they use computers for nearly everything which makes it a lot easier. They provide written schemes on how investigations are done and completed not just for WA, but for other companies too. They also archive how the job is coming along, so by the end of the site they are working on they will have a fact file on everything from start to finish. It was also at this point when I realised how everyone working at Wessex Archaeology uses number codes instead of place names. For example, the location I was taking a look at with Tom had the code 84441. This might seem quite simple. However, if you introduce 100 other sites with the same amount of numbers, it can get quite complicated. Thanks Tom, Archives was a good experience.

Friday 14 July – Last Day

On the last day, I was working with in environmental (sample processing) in the morning and doing osteoarchaeology (looking at human skeletons) in the afternoon. Even though I did sample processing on Tuesday, it wasn’t the same at all. We collected my now dry samples to work on. I, along with Sam, sieved through what seemed like endless rocks. I found a few small bits of pottery, some animal bone and a few pieces of flint, which we put in a tray to be put away until the environmental team was ready to inspect them. I had to correct a few of my mistakes with the context number, location number and what the artefact is (as Sam would know), but it was a fun. Once I had done about five or so trays, I moved next door to the environmental office. Here, I had a look at the samples I had processed 10 minutes before under a light microscope. I was collecting snails and bits of grain with tweezers. As explained by Ines and her colleagues, we can tell what the land was like and what crops were grown. For example, I found material that showed that my area of land had been a grassy, open field which had been used for growing wheat. It’s amazing what you can find from little samples. 
Sadly, I was not with Ines or Sam for very long as I was having an early lunch break to get ready for the osteoarchaeologist. Thank you both!


The final session of my week I was working with human remains with Kirsten. Rachel introduced me to her and then we started straight away. We started off by looking at the remains of a middle-aged man who had lived in the mid-19th century. It was pretty much a complete skeleton. This was fascinating as she showed me how bones worked together in the body and how we could tell how old he was from simple markings on the bones. I found it astonishing how she could tell straight away what bone it was and where it was from in the body. We also had a close look at the pelvis, as this was one of the main areas you can get your information from. We managed to tell his age, how tall he would have been and whether he had suffered from any infections. We started to lay it out on the table so I could get a full perspective of what I was looking at.  
After we had finished looking at this particular person, we moved on to what were the remains of at least three individuals. I was told someone was doing some building in their garden when they discovered them. Sadly, these remains were not found as a complete skeleton, but we did have most parts. We managed to identify from part of the pelvis roughly what age she had been. We managed to do this by looking at the surface of the bone and by how young-looking or rough the bone texture was. Finally, I asked the cliché question of: What has been your most interesting find? 
She took me to her office where she showed me pictures of the early Bronze Age burials from Cliff’s End Farm, Kent . There were four skeletons in a big pit, two of which were children. However, what was interesting was that the older woman was buried holding a piece of chalk to her mouth. No-one knows exactly why this was and that’s what I love about archaeology; the mysteries. Kirsten also described how the bone from a nearby Saxon cemetery was less well preserved than the much earlier burials because the soil was different in that part of the site.
I would like to thank all of Wessex Archaeology, especially those who let me interrupt their busy routines, for letting me see what it is like as an archaeologist. I would especially like to thank Rachel for organising my whole week, making sure I was in the right place at the right time. It worked perfectly. I would definitely recommend others to apply for a work experience week here as the interest and enjoyment is endless. It was also a lot of fun! I hope to visit some time again soon.
Will Roe

Replica Anglo-Saxon Work Box Presentation


Wessex Archaeology has a long and proud history of working with the Ministry of Defence on projects within the Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA), and around the UK. Most recently, this work has included supporting the Army Basing Programme at sites throughout the SPTA and particularly at Bulford, Larkhill and Tidworth. The sites have revealed some quite astonishing archaeology, ranging in date from the early Neolithic (before even Stonehenge) to a system of WWI practice trenches. Our work has been financed by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and managed by their consultants, WYG.


Wessex Archaeology’s Regional Director, Andy Crockett said, 
The challenges of complicated projects such as these really test the strength of a team. In this case, we have had the pleasure of working with some first-rate people and today we decided it was time to say thank you.
Andy Corcoran of DIO, Martin Brown of WYG, and Emma Robertson from the WA field team were presented with replicas of the Anglo-Saxon decorated work box discovered by Emma during investigation of a burial at Bulford. The replicas were cast in bronze by Shapeways using the traditional lost-wax method, the wax template itself 3D printed from a digital model created by our illustrator Will Foster.
Wessex Archaeology CEO, Chris Brayne said,
Our guests today each made a very significant personal contribution to the success of the ABP project and we wanted to thank them for that. They also helped to maintain a collaborative atmosphere throughout the teams they represent which has helped deliver benefits beyond the regulatory requirements of the project. We would like to extend our thanks and congratulations to all those involved.’

Palaeolithic Flints From Submerged Landscapes


The Marine Aggregate Industry Archaeological Protocol encourages the reporting and recording of maritime archaeological finds discovered by the aggregate industry during dredging works. The discoveries that come to light form a database of maritime archaeological finds that otherwise may have been discarded. The scheme boasts the reporting of 1600 finds since its launch in 2005 ranging from metal artefacts to timber and flints.
Arguably the most important collection of flint finds reported through the Protocol were recorded on 13 February 2008 as Hanson_0133. The finds were reported by Hanson Aggregates Marine Ltd, (the licensee) and described as ‘28 x hand axes, mammoth molars, tusk fragments and antlers’, and they were recovered from Area 240, a dredging area situated approximately 11 km east of the Norfolk coast. On further analysis, it was established that 88 flint artefacts were present in the assemblage, classified as 33 hand axes, eight cores, and 47 complete and fragmentary flakes. 
In 2014, this important discovery was published in the Journal of Quaternary Science and in 2015 Seabed Prehistory Investigating the Palaeogeography and Early Middle Palaeolithic Archaeology in the Southern North Sea, which discusses the finds in detail, was published. The analysis of the assemblage found that the Area 240 lithic material could be considered typologically heterogeneous. The finds were characterized by the occurrence of cordiform or sub-cordiform hand axes, and included a substantial proportion of well-made Levallois products. Around 20% of the identified finds were of Levallois technique and just over 25% of the flakes were diagnostically Levallois manufacture. Both cordiform and sub-cordiform hand axe types could represent Late Middle Palaeolithic, Mousterian or Acheulean Tradition (MTA) products. Alternatively, the hand axes may be older, of Lower Palaeolithic or Early Middle Palaeolithic (EMP) origin and be broadly contemporary with the Levallois material. It was found that on 13 of the flakes, retouch was evident. 


The majority of the artefacts indicated that rolled raw flint nodules were likely to have been sourced from river deposits. Area 240 is situated in the lower reaches of the Palaeo-Yare river system. For most of the last one million years the area has been part of a coastal or inland environment because of lowered sea levels. The assessment of the palaeolandscape (using geophysical and geotechnical data), palaeoenviromental material and sediment dating indicate an EMP age for the assemblage.
The identification of the initial ‘chance’ finds of flint led to a regional study being conducted on Area 240. The results of the wider regional study demonstrated that submerged landscapes can preserve in situ artefacts. The investigations confirmed that the artefacts found after the initial encounter were not ‘chance’ finds, but indicated clear relationships to submerged and buried geomorphological features. Palaeolandscapes, although complex, can be examined in detail using a variety of existing field and analytical methods. Through close collaboration between archaeologists, regulators and industry it has been possible to go beyond an assessment of potential submerged prehistory and identification of buried geomorphological features, and investigate the archaeology and its wider palaeogeographical context.
By Andrea Hamel Senior Archaeologist
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