Latest News


Thames Shipwrecks

hat-and-umbilicalRecent work by Wessex Archaeology in the Thames Estuary has been captured in two BBC programmes Thames Shipwrecks: a race against time. The programmes have been produced by Touch Productions and broadcast on BBC2 on Tuesday 26 August and Tuesday 2 September 2008.
The programmes examine a series of wrecks within the main navigation channels looked after by the Port of London Authority (PLA). The port is very busy, with major plans for expansion that include new dredging in existing channels. Since 2003, Wessex Archaeology’s Coastal and Marine section has been advising the PLA on how best to safeguard the archaeological and historical interest in wrecks that lie in these channels.
We have carried out an extensive range of investigations, including desk-based research, marine geophysical surveys, and archaeological diving. Each programme of work has been agreed with English Heritage and includes provision for reporting, handling of recovered material, and publication. Further archaeological work is being planned to accompany future wreck clearance and dredging. Here on Splash, Wessex Archaeology's Coastal and Marine website, you can find out more about our shipwreck investigations.

The Bottle Wreck (Site 5013)

Southern End of Pipe Cargo Commonly known as the "Bottle Wreck", this site mainly consists of a mound of cargo, since the vessel itself is badly deteriorated. Secondary sources have characterised this wreck as a small sailing coaster or barge with at least two masts. It carried a cargo of cast-iron pipes, beer (in barrels and bottles), and a general cargo (including pottery, cutlery, razors and guns). The pottery assemblage has dated the sinking of the vessel to between 1833 and 1835. The "Bottle Wreck" may also have traded overseas, presumably to the United States since the decoration on the razor handles includes images of George Washington and the Liberty Bell. It is believed that the vessel may have sank on its way from London, where the brewery was located, to a south coast port such as Southampton or Portsmouth.
This wreck is situated 7.18nm ESE of Selsey Bill in the Outer Owers, at a general depth of 19.7m (CD). The dimensions are 14m in length and 6m in breadth.
In August 2002 a geophysical survey of the wreck was completed by Wessex Archaeology, using sidescan sonar and magnetometer. The site was not dived during this year's fieldwork due to poor weather conditions.
Multibeam sonar image - In June 2003, the site was re-surveyed using multibeam sonar, sub-bottom profiler and magnetometer. The site was only dived once, again due to adverse weather conditions. However, the dive results confirmed that the magnetic anomaly returned by the geophysics survey corresponded with the large cargo of iron pipes.
Finally, in the summer of 2005, a ROV (remotely operated vehicle) was used to obtain live recordings of the wreck site that would go towards the site archive. Examples of the video footage together with underwater photos, a site plan and more information about the Bottle Wreck (including its construction, fittings and cargo) can all be viewed here.
For further information about some of the objects retrieved from this site over the years, visit the Littlehampton museum website.
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Last few places on our 2008 Practical Archaeology course

There are just a few spaces left on the 2008 Practical Archaeology courses at Down Farm, Cranborne Chase, Dorset. This excellent training course offers 5 days excavation on an Iron Age site, with first class tuition in fieldwork techniques together with workshops on identifying pottery, flint and bone. Courses run from 1st to 5th and from 8th to 11th September and are suitable for all levels of experience.
To find out more please visit the Training section of our website.
Practical Archaeology Course 2007 Team PhotoPractical Archaeology Course 2007 Team Photo


Unknown steam trawler off Worthing, East Sussex (Site 5008)

Sidescan Sonar - trawler This is the wreck of an unknown steam trawler, probably dating to the first quarter of the 20th century. The vessel is lying on the starboard side and although most of its structure is absent, part of a funnel is visible on the seabed, together with an iron propeller and winch.
The site is situated due south of Worthing, East Sussex and lies at a depth of 23m. The dimensions of the wreck are 42.1m long, 17.5m wide and it stands 4.4m proud of the seabed.
In August 2002, Wessex Archaeology surveyed the wreck site using sidescan sonar and magnetometer. A month later the site was dived confirming the elements of the wreck that remain, together with a description of their current state of preservation.
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Concha (Site 5004)

Multibeam sonar image - Concha 2 Documentary research and geophysical data have identified this wreck as the Belgian steamer Concha, built in 1877. The vessel sank after colliding with the steamer Saint Filians. The Concha's valuable cargo of tin and copper ore was salvaged shortly after its sinking, but the iron ore cargo still remains in and around the wreck site.
The site is situated 7.5nm SSE of Littlehampton, West Sussex between the Outer Owers and Kingmere Rocks. It lies in 10.7m (CD) of water on a sandy/gravelly seabed. The dimensions of the wreck are 66m in length and 7-10m in width.
In 2002 the site was geophysically surveyed by Wessex Archaeology, using sidescan sonar and magnetometer. The sidescan image shows the vessel upright on the seabed and largely unburied, and the magnetometer results indicate a large metal anomaly associated with the wreck; presumably a combination of the iron ore cargo and metal hull. Technical problems meant that no diving survey of the wreck was completed that year.
Concha - anchorIn 2003, the area was re-surveyed using multibeam, sub-bottom profiler and magnetometer, confirming the results collected from 2002.
Most recently, in the summer of 2005, WA used a ROV (remotely operated vehicle) to survey the site, and obtain a video archive of the wreck site. Examples of the video footage together with underwater photos, a site plan and more information about the Concha (including its construction, fittings, machinery, cargo and artefacts) can all be viewed here.
A list of the Concha's vessel specifications from Lloyds Register can be viewed here.
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Share our web content

Eagle-eyed readers of our website might have noticed a new addition underneath the last paragraph of most pages.  It is a little link saying "Share This". Clicking the link allows you to email the page to a friend, or add it to your favourite social networking website such as Facebook, MySpace, Delicious and StumbleUpon.

If you haven't seen what it looks like, here is a screenshot of the window that appears after link after it has been clicked:

Share ThisShare This

If you are logged in to Facebook, for example, clicking the Facebook logo opens up a new window (or tab) in your web browser where you can describe the link and post it to your profile. 


If you want to blog about anything on our website, the Share This link helps to make this a bit easier. Just click the "Post" tab and click the logo of the service that you use to blog (or micro-blog). The usual services are there, such as Blogger, WordPress, Twitter, LiveJournal, etc. Clicking your service will either open a new window, or ask you to log in, and you'll be posting the page details to your blog in seconds. No details are held on our servers!

Sharing pages by email

If you just want to tell a friend about one of our pages by a more 'traditional' method, then you can click the "Send/Email" tab on the ShareThis window, and fill out your details and those of the person you want to send the page link to.

I hope that this little feature comes in handy!

B-24 bomber near Eastbourne (Site 5001)


Sidescan Sonar - B-24 Liberator

This site is thought to be the remains of a World War II B-24 Liberator bomber. It is located close to the Sussex coast, near Eastbourne.
In August 2002, Wessex Archaeology surveyed the site using sidescan sonar, although the results produced were not consistent with the wreck of a plane.
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Website News: Home and Explore

Wessex Archaeology hompage, July 2008Wessex Archaeology hompage, July 2008Regular visitors to our website will have noticed a few changes during the past fortnight. Now that we have completed the transition of our website to a content management system, I have had a chance to focus on useability and navigation.


The first change is a complete redesign of the homepage. I have wanted to design something bright, bold, and easy to use for some time now, and, thanks to Drupal, I have been able to do just that. It represents a departure from our past homepages, in that there are fewer words describing services and capabilities, and more focus on content and finding things.

Who Wessex Archaeology are, and what we do, is now covered by one sentence, in a large font, at the top of the page, with an inviting link to our "About" page (also soon to be updated). The 'latest news' block now aggregates the titles of latest posts from across all of our blogs, and we can now include a nice, bold, featured photo at the top of the page, with a large search box underneath it. Tag clouds provide a fun way of browsing the site, and we also list our growing number of blogs.

The large blue box contains a quote from Sue Davies, our CEO, explaining what archaeology is, and what it can do for us. It is good to define archaeology, and the context within it that we work, on the front page.


I have long thought that the word "Projects" was perhaps not the best way to describe our work. From talking to people, and doing some useability testing, it became apparent that I was right. From our homepage, more people were reaching for the search link than the projects link.

The old projects page simply contained a list of periods, counties, and Coastal and Marine projects.While this was very easy to use, there was no space left to include related content that was not directly linked to a project. Thus the Explore section was born.

Explore was going to be a sub-section of the projects page, but given the problems with the word 'Projects' in our main navigation bar at the top, I decided to change things completely.

Our new Explore section contains prominent, brightly coloured blocks of information about the different aspects of our work. At the top are links to projects by period, place and tag, so that it is still very simple to jump into our work via a 'traditional' route (although tags are a bit new...). The period and places pages contain new Google maps to help make finding projects a little easier. New themes and reports sections, and a syndicated news (more on them later) section are linked from Explore, all with colourful icons from the kNeu! icon set.

The Explore section will change and grow to reflect all aspects of our work, in ways that we have never done before.

I hope that our website is now a little easier to use, and certainly a bit more colourful. We hope you like it. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment.

National Archaeology Day a success

Despite big black clouds and the occasional spot of rain, National Archaeology Day at Salisbury Museum was a big success again this year. More than 670 visitors enjoyed a wide variety of family activities from making pots to building Stonehenge. There was even an opportunity to go snorkelling underwater for finds! Visitors were fascinated by Neil Burridge’s demonstration of Bronze Age metal-working while children enjoyed helping Julian Richards build a huge Stonehenge trilithon.

Building a trilithon with Julian RichardsBuilding a trilithon with Julian Richards

Visitors had a go at the various stages of archaeology from excavating and recording to finds washing and conservation. They tried their hand at metal detecting and making pots, made models of Stonehenge and reconstructed faces like the experts on ‘Meet the Ancestors’.

'Snorkelling' for underwater archaeology'Snorkelling' for underwater archaeology

Volunteers from Salisbury Museum, The Wiltshire Conservation Centre, Salisbury Cathedral, National Trust and Wessex Archaeology were joined by local societies for what has become a favourite annual event.

Phil Harding awarded honorary degree

Phil Harding is to be awarded an honorary degree by Southampton University. The award, the honorary degree of Doctor of the University, will be conferred at a ceremony at the University on Thursday 24 July and is for outstanding personal achievement in the field of archaeology.

Phil said ‘This is a great honour. I am delighted to have my archaeological achievements recognized by the university. As a man whose heart is in Wessex, I am particularly pleased that it’s Southampton that have given this to me.’

Sue Davies, Chief Executive of Wessex Archaeology, commented ‘I am thrilled for Phil. This award is thoroughly deserved.’

The university’s citation along with details of the other distinguished honorary graduates who include a Baroness, a Dame, an Admiral and Knights of the Realm, are available at the University of Southampton Media Centre.

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