- About Us
The Thesis is a wreck of a 19th-century steamship that sank in 1889 in the Sound of Mull. From 1994 to 2005 the Sound of Mull archaeological Project run by the Nautical Archaeology Society planned the wreck out in detail and undertook a sidescan sonar survey.
Wessex Archaeology visited the wreck briefly during the 2014 and 2015 fieldwork season of project SAMPHIRE and noted that the external hull of the bow structure had collapsed inwards. After some investigation it was decided that this was mainly due to natural degradation rather than dredging damage!
The Marine Antiquities Scheme has released a video (click to play below) as part of its ongoing outreach programme to promote the scheme. It briefly explains the process of recording finds and, importantly, takes viewers step-by-step through using the MAS app (available from Google Play and the App Store), including the GPS and camera functions.
The MAS, funded by The Crown Estate, was launched three months ago and, since then specialists at Wessex Archaeology have researched over 70 finds. These finds, from 19th-century clay pipes and chevron beads to the remains of a Second World War landing craft, are available on the MAS database.
Outreach continues to engage professional and community groups through a MAS presence at events such as CITiZAN’s second annual conference Turn the Tide, Birmingham’s dive show DIVE 2016 (22–23 October 2016), the Bournemouth Skipper Expo (28–29 October 2016) and the NAS and SCAPE Trust conference (5–6 November 2016).
Please visit us at any of these events to pick up a brochure and poster and see the MAS app in action.
As part of our continuing programme of support for the Scottish Fisheries Museum, Wessex Archaeology Scotland visited Mackays Boatbuilders, Arbroath on the 26 September 2016 when the Fifie class sailing herring drifter Reaper was on the slip having repairs completed to her hull. Our staff undertook a photogrammetric survey of Reaper similar to those completed on the other museum fleet boats as part of the Fleet-wide Conservation Management Plan. The resultant model of Reaper allows for an accurate view of the vessel’s shape and lines, as well as identifying any areas of twist in the hull. It has also produced some rather nifty images for the Museum of their flagship in all her glory. Wessex Archaeology Scotland is proud to continue to support the work of the Scottish Fisheries Museum in their conservation and preservation of vessels, artefacts and personal stories from the Scottish fishing industry.
The model of this vessel is now on our Sketchfab site abd can be viewed below.
The ‘Drumbeg wreck’ a 17th-18th-century shipwreck, was discovered by Ewen Mackay and Michael Errington while scallop diving near the village of Drumbeg in December 2011. Historic Environment Scotland (Historic Scotland at the time) commissioned Wessex Archaeology to survey and record the interesting remains in 2012. The site consists of two anchors and three concreted cannon! Underneath these artefacts Wessex Archaeology even discovered a well preserved section of the hull!
The wreck was recorded through traditional methods as well as extensive photogrammetry – one of the first times photogrammetry was used on such an extensive area underwater.
Through historical research, documents dating to the 17th and 18th century relating to shipwrecks in the area were found. Both of the records are possible answers as to the real name and history of the ship that has been named the ‘Drumbeg wreck’.
On the basis of its national importance the wreck was designated in 2013 by the Scottish Ministers as Scotland’s first Historic Marine Protected Area.
For more information, you can read the full report here or watch the video Wessex Archaeology created about the wreck!
Two of our divers, Graham Scott and Paolo Croce, recently took part in a very productive international underwater survey of the protected wreck Rooswijk on the Goodwin Sands. This Dutch East India Company ship wrecked in 1739 en route from Texel, North Holland to the East Indies and so it was extremely appropriate to have the heritage agencies of both England and the Netherlands involved in this investigation of the Dutch wreck in British waters.
During the middle of September, Rooswijk was investigated by an international team headed by Martijn Manders from the Maritime Programme of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands in liaison with Historic England. Together with divers from both sides of the North Sea, including our divers, the team took turns to measure and document the seabed remains. All up, the divers spent 20 hours underwater and took tens of measurements, hundreds of photographs and many videos to ensure that the wreck was well documented in its current condition.
Obviously, an underwater project of this nature attracted a lot of media attention. So in between measuring timbers and cannon, the divers were interviewed for BBC and ITV and the fieldwork was also covered in many newspapers.
The Rooswijk has been designated a protected wreck by Historic England because it is threatened by both human interference and environmental factors. The site has already been subjected to salvage with the removal of up to 10,000 silver coins. As is common for the area, a mobile sand bank periodically covers or buries parts or all of Rooswijk. For this reason, it is important to gain a better understanding of the wreck site as it is now, compare it to records from past archaeological investigations, to be better prepared for any changes in the future. In this way, Rooswijk will be preserved for Dutch and British licensed divers to visit in the future.
Public Access Open Day
On Friday 28 October, as part of this year’s Sheffield Design Week, Chris Breeden and Lucy Dawson, of the Wessex Sheffield office, will be providing tours around the former Titanic Works, Malinda Street/Hoyle Street, Sheffield, on behalf of Derwent Students, Sheffield 3 and BSRE.
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 now 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.
We will be conducting four 1 hour tours, all free, each accommodating up to six members of the public. The tours will include a tour of the listed building and all three cellars, with information about the steel making process, the history and development of the site and its significance within Sheffield.
Please find further information and/or book your tickets here.
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.
A Medieval Manor House Rediscovered
We are delighted to announce that A Medieval Manor House Rediscovered – Excavations at Longforth Farm, Wellington, Somerset by Simon Flaherty, Phil Andrews and Matt Leivers is now available.
It is the latest in our Occasional Paper series and presents the results of excavations undertaken in 2012 and 2013 at Longforth Farm, Wellington, Somerset. Here, the excavations revealed limited evidence for prehistoric occupation including a Terminal Upper Palaeolithic blade, a few Mesolithic flints and a single Neolithic scraper. A Trevisker Ware vessel from a palaeochannel was associated with a deposit of burnt stone. Gullies and ditches dating to the Middle and Late Bronze Age appear to be the remains of an enclosure and associated boundaries.
However, the main discovery was the remains of a previously unknown high status medieval building complex, thought to be a manor house. Although heavily robbed, it was possible to identify a hall, solar with garderobe and service wing. A forecourt, courtyard and at least one ancillary building as well as a possible detached kitchen were also revealed. Associated features included enclosures, pits and a fishpond.
A relatively restricted range of artefacts were recovered but they included evidence for the fabric of the building – roof furniture and floor tiles. These together with the ceramics from the site suggest that occupation spanned the late 12th/13th century to the late 14th/early 15th century. Despite documentary research it has not been possible to identify the owners of this building or any records specifically relating to it. One possibility is that it belonged to the Bishops of Bath and Wells, perhaps being abandoned at the end of the 14th century when they moved their court to nearby Wellington, which had by then been established as a market town.
In 2015 Wessex Archaeology’s SAMPHIRE project team investigated a wreck located south of Kirkcudbright in Goat Well Bay. The remains consist of a wooden hull, complete from stem to stern with much of the lower hull still buried in the intertidal sands. The exposed parts of the wreck include the second and third futtock and the remaining stem and stern structure. The wreck was found by the Wessex Archaeology team after a tip off from Keith Armstrong-Clark, the local harbour master at Kirkcudbright.
Identification of the wreck was extremely easy as the team found a plaque commemorating its wreck! Sometimes life as an archaeologist is easy! After confirming through some investigating that the wreck was indeed the Monrieth as stated on the plaque the team did some further investigation and discovered the Monrieth was a schooner built in Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway in 1876. It ran aground on 11 November 1900, with a cargo of stone bound for Kirkcudbright. Even though the wreck was already in the National Inventories list Wessex managed to recover further construction details of the vessel that can be added to the entry!
Wessex Archaeology’s Graphics Team has created a video which records the drawing of the Netheravon Cremation Urn. The Urn is an unusually large Early Bronze Age vessel, which was found in Netheravon, Wiltshire on MOD land. It was discovered due to badgers digging in the area which had unearthed pieces of the vessel. Subsequently excavation was undertaken by Wessex Archaeology in conjunction with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Operation Nightingale, which recovered a number of other objects including a copper chisel with an intact decorated bone handle, an archer’s wrist guard and cremated human bone. The Urn was put back together at the Wiltshire County Conservation lab.
Drawing finds is important as the illustrations provide a record of the object for specialists to use. The video clearly shows that the drawing of finds requires great attention to detail and is a very thorough process. Another way the graphics team has recorded the urn is via a 3D reconstruction using photogrammetry software. The entire object was photographed many times so that there was a 360 degree photographic record. Photogrammetry software then aligned the photographs by distinguishing key points to creat a mesh model of the object. The software was then able to calculate the texture and surface of the Urn and attached the photographs to the mesh model, thereby creating a 3D reconstruction.
By placing your mouse (or finger if you are using a tablet) on the image below you are able to examine the 3D model of the Netheravon Cremation Urn, you can rotate it and zoom in and out.
Once Wessex Archaeology’s specialists have finished with the Urn it will be returned to the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes.