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On Site with Operation Nightingale and Breaking Ground Heritage

Over the last couple of weeks Wessex Archaeology has been working with Operation Nightingale and Breaking Ground Heritage running an excavation close to East Chisenbury uncovering Late Bronze and early Iron Age archaeology, with a little bit of Roman thrown in. The site includes a large Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age midden, enclosure ditches and a possible roundhouse.
The archaeological purpose of the excavation has been to develop greater understanding of the site and recover midden material excavated by badgers. The excavation though has been about more than just the archaeology, it has been about utilising the technical and social aspects of field archaeology to aid the recovery and skill development of service personnel and veterans who have been injured in conflict. A number of service personnel, veterans and volunteers took part in the excavation and processing of the finds on site. To develop greater contextual understanding of the site specialists came and taught ancient skills to those participating in the excavation such as blacksmithing, Iron Age cookery as well as pottery making techniques used in the Bronze Age and Iron Age; the activities were great fun as well informative.
Working with Operation Nightingale and Breaking Ground Heritage has been a great pleasure and we thank everyone who has been involved over the past few weeks.


To find out about the finds uncovered at the site look out for our next blog.

Scotland's Archaeology Strategy

3104 Photogrammetric orthomosaic of the Ardno wreck

Wessex Archaeology’s image from project SAMPHIRE was featured as the front page of Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy a new publication by the Scottish Strategic Archaeology Committee! The publication can be found here.

3106 Planning the intertidal wreck at Ardno

The image featured is of the Ardno wreck found in the intertidal zone near upper Loch Fyne. What remains is the keel to turn of the bilge of one side of the carvel built wooden vessel. Two previous images of the vessel were uncovered dating to the early 1900s showing the slow degradation of the vessel.
Investigation by Wessex Archaeology concluded that it was a broad beamed adaptation of the Zulu type vessel more suitable for use in sea lochs dated to around 1900 or later. Please see pages 52-54 of the 2015 SAMPHIRE report for further details on the wreck and the images!

Sherford Open Day Success


On Saturday 24 September 2016 Wessex Archaeology held its second open day at Sherford, Plymouth, Devon. The rather poor weather forecast did not deter over 750 people from attending. 
Visitors were given the opportunity to see the remains of a Bronze Age round barrow which we are currently excavating. As well as meeting the archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology, visitors were able to read information about the excavations to date and see some of the best artefacts that have been found on the site. Budding young archaeologists were able to try their hand at excavating in our sand pit excavations, which proved a bit hit. As well as Wessex Archaeology, visitors were able to speak to staff from the Devon County Council Historic Environment Team, the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery and the Plymouth District Archaeological Society. All provided displays and hands on activities for all ages. 
The benefit of such an event was clear to all who attended. Archaeology is clearly popular amongst the local residents, therefore there was great engagement with the event and the open day was a pleasure to run. Value came from people being able to see and better understand the work happening in their local community, which in turn enabled people to develop a greater sense of place and understanding of their local heritage.
We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves during the day and we would like to thank all those who made it such a success. 
Bronze Age round barrow under excavation.

Artefacts in the Classroom


Earlier this week our Community & Education Officer was working with children from Damers First School, Dorchester teaching them about the archaeology found in and around their new school site in Poundbury. The school is relocating to Poundbury later in the academic year and invited Wessex Archaeology in to share with the children the history of the landscape, so that they were able to gain a better understanding of the past and develop a greater connection with the new site.

The discoveries Wessex Archaeology made were incorporated with the national curriculum to produce archaeology sessions for Year 3 and Year 4 students. The sessions were based around the finds from the excavation and artefacts were loaned from the Dorset County Museum enabling the children to handle actual objects from Poundbury. 
The archaeology sessions at Damers First School is a great example of how investigating objects can bring local history and broader historical topics to life, as well as develop students’ enquiry skills.

Reburial, another moment in the story of Holy Trinity, Bradford on Avon


We have now finished the on-site analysis of the large assemblage of late Saxon to 19th century remains, recovered during the major regeneration works at Holy Trinity, Bradford on Avon.


The human remains and their associated artefacts were reinterred in the Holy Trinity churchyard on Friday 16 September 2016, when Rector Joanna Abecassis performed the re-committal in the presence of members of the local community (including those who had generously volunteered on the project), the renovation team, and WA staff Bruce Eaton (Project Manager), Lynn Hume (Supervisor) and Senior Osteoarchaeologist Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy
The carefully considered and thought-provoking words of the Rector referenced the major social, political and cultural changes experienced during the lifetimes of those being reburied, and fittingly included prayers from the Saxon, medieval and post-medieval periods. 
Many of those involved in the project have expressed their sense of privilege, at having had the opportunity to help to find out more about the past inhabitants of Bradford on Avon. 
The analytical work is still ongoing, with the results of further radiocarbon dating of the Saxon burials due within the next few months. Watch this space for further updates.
More information about the site can be found here:

Public Open Day at Kings Gate, Amesbury


Last Saturday the public had a rare opportunity to come and see the excavations happening at Kings Gate, Amesbury. The public open day offered people the chance to learn about the ever growing story of Boscombe Down; see the site during excavation, view finds from the current and previous sites at Boscombe Down, and speak to archaeologists who are working there.
Many of the residents of Boscombe, local societies and children who attend the Amesbury Archer Primary School came to see the site; it was great to hear how proud the children are of their local area and heritage. Over 100 people attended the open day to engage with the landscape and learn about its history. Thank you to all staff involved in the event and all who attended.

Sheffield Welcomes New Environmental Archaeologist


Wessex Archaeology is pleased to welcome Liz Chambers to our Sheffield office, where she will head up the newly formed environmental department. This is Liz’s second spell with Wessex having previously worked for the Salisbury office on several large-scale projects in the South-East. Liz has achieved Masters of Science in both Geoarchaeology and Environmental Archaeology and Paleoeconomy and has worked in archaeology for almost 20 years, primarily in environmental archaeology but also in the field. Liz’s main roles have included spells as a consultant and supervising and advising on environmental sampling and processing. We look forward to working with Liz and seeing the environmental team thrive. 

Belnahua's Abandoned Slate Quarries


Wessex Archaeology is featured in the latest edition of Historic Scotland magazine during a survey of the now uninhabited island of Belnahua in the Firth of Lorn. The work is part of the Scottish Underwater Archaeological Services contract for Historic Environment Scotland (HES). 

Philip Robertson, HES’s marine expert, tasked the Wessex Archaeology dive team with exploring the abandoned slate quarries on the island. The team investigated the submerged parts of the quarry and recorded some exciting features! The site is now a scheduled monument on account of its national importance. 

Open Day at Sherford


We are pleased to announce our second archaeological open day at Sherford, Plymouth, Devon.


24 September 2016

10.00am to 4.00pm

Our team has been working on the site all year excavating some truly amazing archaeology including two Bronze Age round barrows, a prehistoric cemetery and a Romano-British settlement. Come and see the excavation of one of the barrows and learn all about our findings. Last year over 850 people came and enjoyed the open day. This year we there will be a huge amount to see and do including:
  • Displays and activities
  • Meet the archaeologists
  • Activities for children
  • Learn about fascinating evidence from the site 

Archaeology at Kings Gate

You are invited to attend a Public Open DayCome and see the recent archaeological works, which have revealed Iron Age roundhouses, granary stores and evidence of early prehistoric activity at Kings Gate, Amesbury.


17 September 2016
10am to 4pm
At the former Bloors construction compound
Postcode SP4 7GE
Please note: There is no parking available within the compound, Public parking is available at the adjacent Cricket Pavilion and nearby shops and roads, but please respect the local residents' drives and properties.
Sponsored by Wessex Archaeology and the Trussell Trust.
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