Latest News


All together now ...

WA Coastal and Marine
It is quite rare for all WA Coastal & Marine staff to be in one place at one time, so we took a recent opportunity to get a photograph of us all together outside our offices near Salisbury. From left to right: Cristina, Antony, Jack, Kevin, Niall, Euan, Paul, Gemma, Steph, Dee, Matt, Stuart, John, Graham, Andrea, Moura, Vicki, Louise, Steve (hiding), Dan and Nic.

England's Shipping: New Pages

Englands Shipping GIS England's Shipping is an ALSF project that we completed in 2004. The project developed a method that would make documentary records of pre-1730 shipping activity more accessible, so they could be used in assessing the archaeological potential of offshore areas. We've recently been reviewing some of our older project pages and making updates. The updated pages can be found here.

Avebury Monuments Teacher’s Kit

New school pack brings Avebury to life

Wessex Archaeology has produced a new online Teacher’s Kit for Avebury World Heritage Site, commissioned by English Heritage.

The new Teacher’s Kit is available online from today. It will soon be available on the English Heritage website.

Avebury from the airAvebury from the air

The Kit will help schoolchildren heading for Avebury and the surrounding monuments make the most of their trip to the World Heritage Site. It is a downloadable resource for teachers of Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils. As well as information sheets for teachers there are on-site investigation sheets, puzzles, maps, treasure hunts and other games and activities to help pupils to learn about the history of these historical sites in an entertaining and engaging way.

“We want to encourage more schools to come to Avebury World Heritage Site and ensure that pupils have an educational and stimulating visit,” explained Lucy Bradley, Education Manager for English Heritage in the South West.

“The site is steeped in a rich and mysterious history and there is so much children can learn from a visit here. This new web resource will help them to discover the site’s historical significance using fun learning tools”.

The Teacher’s Kit came about after last year’s successful project at Silbury Hill to stabilise the ancient man-made mound. “Pupils from two primary schools and a secondary school visited while the work was in progress. The visit really helped the children to get an in-depth learning experience of the mysterious hill”, said Lucy “So we thought it would be great if we could create a Teacher’s Kit which encourages active learning for visits to the whole World Heritage Site.”

Avebury World Heritage Site is a Neolithic landscape which encompasses Avebury Stone Circle, West Kennet Long Barrow and Avenue, The Sanctuary, Windmill Hill and Silbury Hill.

Avebury Stone Circle, West Kennet Long Barrow and Avenue, The Sanctuary and Windmill Hill are managed by The National Trust on behalf of English Heritage.

View the Avebury Monuments Teacher’s Kit.

EPPIC placement with WA C&M

Hi! My name is Vicki Lambert, and last week I began a one year’s EPPIC placement in the Coastal and Marine Department here at WA. The ‘English Heritage Professional Placements in Conservation’ is a joint initiative between the Institute of Field Archaeologists, English Heritage and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, whereby they provide the funding and support for host companies, universities, museums and so on, to provide professional and specialist workplace learning. Ideally these placements will lead to a vocational qualification and also a step in the right direction in terms of establishing a career in the heritage field of your choice.
The EPPIC scheme has been established since 2003, and after a succesful application and interview, I was selected for one of the six placements organised for this year.
I’m delighted to have the opportunity of joining the C&M department and look forward to working with everyone and being involved in the various projects through the year! More information about the EPPIC scheme and the placements from this year and previous years can be found here.

IFA logoEH logoWA logo

Neanderthal hand-axes found in marine aggregates

photo-2-240-haml_onblack.jpg An amazing collection of 28 flint Neanderthal hand-axes has been unearthed in gravel from a licensed marine aggregate dredging area 13km off Great Yarmouth.
The find was made by a Dutch amateur archaeologist who regularly searches for mammoth bones and fossils in marine sand and gravel delivered by Hanson Aggregates Marine Ltd to a wharf at Flushing, near Antwerp.

Evidence of Ice Age hunters found below North Sea

One of the palaeolithic handaxes found by Jan MeulmeesterOne of the palaeolithic handaxes found by Jan MeulmeesterPhil Harding with some handaxes found on landPhil Harding with some handaxes found on landAn amazing collection of 28 flint hand-axes, dated by archaeologists to be around 100,000 years-old, have been unearthed in gravel from a licensed marine aggregate dredging area 13km off Great Yarmouth.

The find was made by a Dutch amateur archaeologist, Jan Meulmeester, who regularly searches for mammoth bones and fossils in marine sand and gravel delivered by British construction materials supplier Hanson to a Dutch wharf at Flushing, near Antwerp, south west Netherlands.

The axes show that deep in the Ice Age, mammoth hunters roamed across land that is now submerged beneath the sea. These are the finest hand-axes that experts are certain come from English waters, although there have been a few finds on beaches, for example at Pakefield in Suffolk.

Phil Harding of Wessex Archaeology and Channel 4’s Time Team programme is an expert on the Ice Age. He said: “These finds are massively important. In the Ice Age the cold conditions meant that water was locked up in the ice caps. The sea level was lower then, so in some places what is now the seabed was dry land. The hand-axes would have been used by hunters in butchering the carcasses of animals like mammoths.”

He added: “Although we don’t yet know their precise date, we can say that these hand-axes are the single most important find of Ice Age material from below the North Sea.”

English Heritage, the Government heritage agency, is co-operating with Dutch counterparts, the National Service for Archaeology, Cultural Landscape and Built Heritage to evaluate the finds. The hand-axes date to the Palaeolithic (or Old Stone Age) but exactly when in that 750,000-year time span is yet to be determined.

This map shows the approximate location of where the axes were collected by the dredging vesselThis map shows the approximate location of where the axes were collected by the dredging vessel

One of the palaeolithic handaxes found by Jan MeulmeesterOne of the palaeolithic handaxes found by Jan MeulmeesterOne of the palaeolithic handaxes found by Jan MeulmeesterOne of the palaeolithic handaxes found by Jan MeulmeesterWhile the hand-axes were discovered in Holland, the gravel came from a licensed marine dredging area in English waters known as Area 240 - some 13km off Great Yarmouth where the sea is about 25m deep. Bones and teeth, some of which may be from mammoths, were also recovered along with the axes.

Ian Oxley, Head of Maritime Archaeology at English Heritage, said: “These are exciting finds which help us gain a greater understanding of The North Sea at a time when it was land. We know people were living out there before Britain became an island, but sites actually proving this are rare.”

Ian Selby, Hanson’s Marine Operations and Resources Director, added: “The hand-axes were collected over a three-month period and this remarkable discovery only came to light in February when Mr Meulmeester, realising their importance, informed the wharf owners. As we manage our dredging very carefully, we were quickly able to identify the area where the finds came from. As part of our industry’s protocol with English Heritage, we have now moved dredging to another part of the seabed.”

The reporting of the hand-axes demonstrates the level of co-operation that exists between the dredging industry, through its trade association, The British Marine Aggregate Producers Association, and English Heritage. The protocol, signed in 2005, aims to protect archaeological remains discovered in English waters as a result of marine sand and gravel extraction.



The reporting protocol for archaeological finds was an industry led initiative to prevent finds such as these going unreported. The potential for discovering finds has always been known to exist within dredging areas. The industry with consultants Wessex Archaeology and English Heritage established a mechanism through which any finds could be reported and assessed. The Guidance notes produced on behalf of English Heritage and BMAPA, can be viewed at:

Read our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about the handaxes.

Who’s Who

Hanson is one of the world’s largest suppliers of heavy building materials to the construction industry and is part of the HeidelbergCement Group, which employs 70,000 people across five continents. HeidelbergCement is the global leader in aggregates and has leading positions in cement, concrete and heavy building products. Hanson’s marine aggregate dredging business is the largest in Europe, delivering to 20 wharves around the UK and in Holland, Belgium and France.

The British Marine Aggregate Producers Association is the trade association for the British marine aggregate industry. It represents 12 member companies who collectively produce around 90 per cent of the 24 million tonnes of marine sand and gravel dredged from licence areas off the coast of England and Wales each year.

English Heritage exists to protect and promote England’s spectacular historic environment and ensure that its past is researched and understood. The national Heritage Act 2002 gave English Heritage responsibility for the submerged historic environment out to the 12 nautical mile limit. The maritime team of English Heritage is also responsible for managing historic wrecks designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.

Wessex Archaeology is one of the largest archaeological practices in the UK, working with public authorities and developers to ensure the archaeological remains are recorded and preserved in the course of construction and extraction. Set up in 1979, Wessex Archaeology now employs more than 180 archaeologists and retains its charitable status, encouraging interest in archaeology and extending knowledge to the wider public. Wessex Archaeology has been working with the marine aggregate industry since the mid-1990s, carrying out desk-based, geophysical and diving investigations as well as designing and implementing the industry’s reporting protocol.

CEDA Dredging Days 2007: Historic Environment

The British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA) and WA continued their long-standing collaboration by making a joint presentation to the CEDA Dredging Days conference in Rotterdam, November 2007.
The paper - Working alongside the Historic Environment: an aggregate dredging industry perspective - has been published digitially and can be downloaded here (2.09Mb): CEDA24: Russell and Firth 2007.
CEDA - the Central Dredging Association - is the professional society for those involved in activities related to dredging and who live or work in Europe, Africa or the Middle-East. Its 'Dredging Days' conference in 2007 focussed on environmental aspects of dredging.
The BMAPA / WA presentation set out the benefits to industry and to archaeology of taking a pro-active approach to the historic environment. More information about BMAPA can be found here.
Details of WA's work with the marine aggregates industry can be found here.

Geophysical surveys from Wessex Archaeology

Example output and interpretation from one of our geophysical surveysExample output and interpretation from one of our geophysical surveysWessex Archaeology has been doing geophysical surveys in-house, mainly for Coastal and Marine projects but also terrestrial ones, since 2004. After being asked many times if this service could be made available more widely, we have decided to do just that.

Lead by Paul Baggaley, we have a team of 6 expert geophysicists, and we are able to put three teams in the field. We can provide all the usual survey methods, magnetic gradiometry, magnetic scanning and resistivity, plus advice on all other techniques such as Ground Penetrating Radar or Seismic survey.

Find out more about our geophysics capabilities in our Commercial Services section or call either Paul Baggaley on +44(0)1722 326867.

Geophysical surveyGeophysical survey

Training Dig 2008: Practical Archaeology Training Course

For the last four years, Wessex Archaeology has run a series of very successful five day courses at Dr Martin Green’s farm on Cranborne Chase, “one of the most carefully studied areas in western Europe”. The Down Farm landscape includes parts of the Dorset Cursus and Ackling Dyke, Bronze Age barrows and Roman and Iron Age buildings. It is a rich, multi-period site in a wonderful setting.

The course will include instruction and practice in site surveying, excavation, recording (the production of both written records and scale drawings) and finds processing.

It runs from September 1st - 5th and 8th - 12th 2008. More details can be found in our training section.

Podcast: Aircraft Crash Sites at Sea (part two)

The following podcast relates to the ALSF funded Aircraft Crash Sites at Sea: A Scoping Study project undertaken by Wessex Archaeology in late 2007. The project is looking at what information is available about civilian and military crash sites around the UK.
In this, the second podcast relating to the Aircraft Crash Sites at Sea project the author of the report, Graham Scott, discusses the importance of these sites and some case studies of actual UK marine crash sites and what these tell us about the types of sites are on the seabed and their importance for aviation archaeology and management of aggregate dredging licences.
Listen to and download the mp3.
Syndicate content