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Finds from Larkhill

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As a part of the preparations for the building of service family accommodation for the Army Basing Programme on Salisbury Plain, Wessex Archaeology has been carrying out archaeological investigations for over a year at Larkhill. During this work a large array of WWI practice trenches came to light. Under the guidance of our client (Martin Brown of WYG) we have recovered many finds from these trenches. There are many objects still to examine, but what we have looked at has already provided a fascinating insight into life on the base at that time.
 
The diet of the soldiers included tinned sardines and corned beef, jam, marmalade and golden syrup, condensed milk, Bovril and meat paste, with condiments such as HP Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce to make things more palatable.
 
Many examples of the standard-issue eating and drinking equipment have been found – plates, bowls and cups in enameled tin or plain white pottery, mess tins and drinking canteens, plus the occasional surprise item such as a nest of jelly moulds.
 
Life was not all about iron rations though, as we have found many whisky, beer and wine bottles, plus containers for soft drinks such as ginger beer, lemonade and mineral water. There are wine glasses, beer tankards and shot glasses and even a tray for carrying the above!
 
Besides the obvious activities of eating and drinking we have found plenty of evidence for smoking – pipes, cigarettes, tobacco and cigar tins. Some of these have survived in remarkably good condition enabling brand names to be distinguished. One of the clay pipes is of particular interest as it is Irish.
 
The most poignant finds have been the personal items and the little touches of luxury that found their way into the harsh reality of training for war.
 
It is well documented that there were Australian troops at the training camp and one recent discovery has been a tin of toffees from Melbourne, alongside the well-known British makes of Mackintosh and Pascall’s.
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Introducing Kirsty Nichol

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Wessex Archaeology West is delighted to welcome Kirsty Nichol to our Bristol Office as a Project Manager. Kirsty comes to us with over 20 years’ experience, with expertise in field archaeology and historic buildings. She has a broad commercial background that covers consultancy, fieldwork, heritage and post-excavation; her major projects have included urban-based sites and historic landscape management plans. Kirsty has a curious interest in all things concrete and is rarely happier than when she has spent the day in a bunker or two!
 
Kirsty also has a strong track record in Community Outreach and Education programmes, and has extensive experience of running community historical events and excavations, alongside managing developer-funded projects.
 
 

Introducing Jon Kaines

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Wessex Archaeology is delighted to announce the appointment of Jon Kaines as a Project Manager within the WA South fieldwork team. After careers in a building society and a department store Jon graduated from Southampton with a BA(Hons) in Archaeology and began his career washing pottery at Wessex.
 
Jon turned to fieldwork shortly afterwards and, whilst balancing his childcare responsibilities, has worked for most archaeology companies in the South of England (including Wessex), gaining a wealth of experience in the planning and executing of archaeological projects.  He has worked mainly in Hampshire, Sussex and Wiltshire with occasional forays into Somerset, Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire.
 

Elizabeth House Social Centre

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Instead of sending traditional Christmas cards last year, we made donations to a number of charities. Project Manager Damian De Rosa was pleased to present Elizabeth House Social Centre with a cheque for £188 yesterday, which also included a share of the money raised by our Christmas raffle!

 

 

 

 
 
 

Excavation on a small scale

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My name is Emma Robertson and I have been a member of the field staff since September last year. Through November I was sheltering from the ever colder days excavating urned cremation burials recovered by the Kent office. Excavation in miniature took a couple of days to adjust too but it has been an interesting and useful experience. From dealing with the finer details of formation processes, to adjusting to in-office working, I have gained valuable skills and knowledge, as well as the enjoyment of working with a side of funerary archaeology that most university lectures seem to shy away from. 
 
Going from the field to the office was not as big a change of pace as expected. Being surrounded by so many specialist minds created a great atmosphere, with conversations and discussions about many different processes, finds, and periods of history. Plus easy access to cups of tea makes a work day that much more manageable. It has been interesting to observe and deal with material and paperwork from a post-excavation position. This has reinforced just how important clarity and ticking the right boxes out on site can be. 
 
Working in the office has been a different experience, and I am excited  about having further opportunities to work and learn alongside Osteoarchaeologists Jackie and Kirsten. This training has opened up new opportunities to learn and pass on my newly learnt knowledge to others, such as the chance to help Project Supervisor Phoebe Olsen get to grips with urned cremation burials as we swap places. Now it is time to brave the cold and rescue my abandoned trowel from the depths of my tool bag. 
 
 
 

Protocol Finds on GIS

Archaeological finds reported through marine industry protocols are now available online here.
 
The Crown Estate has made data generated from the Marine Aggregates Industry and Offshore Renewables Protocol available online in WGS84 Lat/Long format, and is committed to periodically updating these datasets for the next three years. 
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Only those records that the developers have agreed to release into the public domain are included in these datasets.
 
There are three ways to use the datasets:
 
1. You can simply view them through a browser here.There’s no need to have a Geographic Information System (GIS) programme to view the data this way. All of the finds from the industry protocols are geographically positioned on the map. For those who are interested in a particular find type, it is possible to filter the data by find type, for example, cannonballs, mammoth teeth, aircraft fragment or whatever else is of interest.
 
2. You can open them using ArcGIS software by selecting ‘Open in ArcGIS for Desktop’ located in the right-hand menu, which also includes the metadata for the layers. Once ArcGIS has opened the shapefiles can be exported.
 
3. Or, you can add the ArcGIS server to your mxd so the datasets will always be up to date. 
In ArcCatalog:  
click ‘GIS Servers’ in the Catalog Tree
Double-click ‘Add ArcGIS Server’
Click ‘Next’
Click ‘Finish’. 
 
The layers appear in the GIS Servers section of ArcCatalog and can be added to the mxd. Other useful layers will also be visible including offshore aggregate and windfarm areas, territorial waters and continental shelf, but be aware they’re in British National Grid (BNG). 
 
These datasets will be useful for developers and planners, researchers and archaeologists when investigating areas of seabed for archaeological studies or development. Or they could be of interest to the curious beachwalker or diver who wants to know what’s been discovered off their local coastline. 
 
 
 

Christmas Raffle 2016

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The staff at the Salisbury head office entered into the Christmas spirit this year by buying raffle tickets for the corporate gifts. There were over 20 lovely prizes included: spirits, wines, biscuits and other festive goodies, all of which had been kindly given to us by our clients and suppliers. 
 
The draw was yesterday and there were many happy winners! But the big winners this year will be The Refugee Mission and Elizabeth House who will share the the money raised by the raffle – an amazing £188! 
 
 
 

Books for Christmas!

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As Christmas draws closer, it’s time to reflect on a busy and productive year: we’ve published a number of reports on excavations ranging from multi-period landscapes at Imperial College Sports Ground and RMC Land, West London; an Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Collingbourne Ducis, Wiltshire guidance on Port and Harbour developments for Historic England, a medieval manor at Longforth Farm, Somerset,  and the Stonehenge and Avebury Research Framework, Avebury Resource Assessment and Research Activity in the Stonehenge Landscape 2005−2012 (you can download the documents here). In addition, we have published a number of articles in journals on a wide variety of sites and subjects; for further details, please visit our publications list
 
Our publications are available from Oxbow Books including the latest ebooks.
 
A number of other publications are planned for 2017, so watch this space!
 

Christmas Tree Competition - Winner!

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Thanks to the fantastic support of our social media followers, we are pleased to announce that the winner of the inaugural Wessex Archaeology Inter-Office Christmas Tree challenge for 2016 is our WA Scotland office in Edinburgh, with their inspired idiosyncratic offering.
 
Our congratulations go to the WA Scotland team (who win the cake prize), and indeed to all of the designers throughout our regions for their creative and inventive contributions to the competition.
 
 
 
 
Image:
Chief Executive, Chris Brayne in Edinburgh trying out that Christmas tree hat and cake.
 

A year at Sherford

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We have been working on and off at Sherford since early 2015, but this year has been a little different. A team from Wessex Archaeology has been present on the site from 4 January to 14 December 2016. A whole calendar year of excavation and investigation in a beautiful spot in Devon. And what a year it has been for the archaeology! 
 
Throughout the year the team, which has normally consisted of around eight archaeologists, has been ably led by Senior Project Officer Matt Kendall. Several of the team have been on site for the entire year which is a feat in itself. The result was a close knit team working at capacity for the duration of the fieldwork, learning the intricacies of the archaeology and natural geology and building some wonderful camaraderie in the process. 
 
The field team has been assisted by a dedicated post-excavation team of specialists back at our main office in Salisbury. Their role is to begin to process the artefacts and environmental samples which were recovered on site. It is here we can begin to fully understand the excavation by dating the pottery, reconstruct some of the vessels and analyse and assess the evidence further. 
 
Excavation
Throughout the year the team have worked on six excavation areas which were identified following the completion of a site wide geophysical survey. Some of the areas allowed for the rare opportunity to excavate two extant Bronze Age round barrows which were still visible in the landscape. It was a privilege to excavate the monuments and they didn’t disappoint. Both contained central cremation burials of a single individual, both of whom must have been extremely important within their communities. The excavation of the barrows is already providing unique evidence for Devon and will no doubt create more headlines once the analysis and radiocarbon dating is undertaken. 
 
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We have been able to identify a large amount of funerary activity in the immediate vicinity of the barrows, including a cremation cemetery consisting of around 15 upturned pottery urns containing cremated remains. Such a collection of urns is very rare for this part of the country, so these burials provide an important opportunity to learn how our ancestors here treated their dead several millennia ago. 
 
One of the excavation areas also revealed a Romano-British settlement of a size that could have supported a small group of people farming the surrounding landscape. The discovery is very exciting and once all of the evidence has been analysed and assessed, we may be able to say much more about the people who lived here, farming and trading across the western boundary of the Roman Empire. Maybe our excavations will even lead to a redrawing of that boundary.
 

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Open day
This year also saw our second open day which was well attended and well received. Visitors were able to see the remains of one of the round barrows under excavation as well as see some of the artefacts we have found during the excavations so far. It was a great day and we would like to thank all those who made it such a success.
 
More to come
Excavations are set to continue into 2017 as the development makes progress. We will continue to provide a team of archaeologists on site to be on hand to monitor all aspects of the development so that we can continue to learn more about this exciting historical landscape. Matt will continue reporting throughout the winter and we will begin to tease out information and the secrets which the site has. Towards the end of the year we made some truly spectacular discoveries which we will release information about as and when we can. Watch this space!
 
 
 
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