Central Services

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Wessex Archaeology's Central Services Team consists of over forty experts, providing a high quality service to planners, designers, developers, property managers, schools and community groups.
 
Our comprehensive service covers all areas of post-excavation and publication, finds and environmental analysis, graphics, heritage-related IT services, learning and access.
 
The team members lead their field in innovation, scientific development, cutting edge research and public engagement.
 
Browse through the links on the right to see the Central Services or
to see the full range of services click here.

 

Finds

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Archaeological finds are the remains of objects people once made, used and valued, but also left behind – consumed and discarded, buried, broken or lost. From 300,000 year old flint tools to World War II weapon parts, from items of jewellery to fragments of industrial waste, from pieces of pottery to fragments of waterlogged leather: all these materials (and many more) tell a story of people’s lives in the past, and all pass through our finds department, for cleaning, examination, identification and analysis.
 
The finds team represents the core of Wessex Archaeology’s in-house finds specialists, with expertise in artefacts of all materials and periods, including flint, pottery, metalwork, glass, worked bone, stone and fired clay, as well as human and animal remains, and “small finds” (portable items of particular value or interest). 
 
We have experts in flint, chert and stone who can report on objects from the Palaeolithic to Post-medieval gun flints. Their training in petrology means they can identify the sources of axes and querns and our trained illustrators produce precise interpretative drawings.
 
Pottery remains a key dating material. We have experts in pottery of all periods who also identify ceramic building materials such as brick and tile. The Wessex Archaeology fabric reference collection is comprehensive and is backed by petrological studies.
 
We can identify and report on metalwork and other objects from all periods. An in-house Conservation Service means that the conservator can work alongside with the finds expert. We can provide X-rays, preliminary stabilisation, cleaning of copper alloy and the pre-treatment of waterlogged material and have ready access to other services.
 
Our Archive Team prepares finds, drawings and records to museum's individual requirements and a copy is sent to the National Archaeological Record. Digital data is routinely formatted and submitted to the national digital data service for long-term curation and automatic technical upgrading.
 

Key Capabilities

 
 

Osteoarchaeology

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Osteoarchaeology is the scientific study of bone recovered from archaeological sites. Bones from mammals, fish and birds can remain preserved in the ground in favourable conditions for a long period of time, and can be recovered in large quantities from archaeological investigations. These remains can tell us a great deal about animal husbandry, peoples diets, trade and commerce and whether they were involved in specific industries. 
 
When human remains are encountered on archaeological sites they must be treated with dignity and respect, and dealt with in line with current legislation. Human remains can provide us with a great deal of information, even if they have been cremated. As well as leaning about the individuals themselves from their sex, health and age of death we can learn about belief systems and ritual connotations by looking at the methods of burial.  
 
With experts in human, animal, bird and fish remains Wessex Archaeology can provide a comprehensive identification, analysis and reporting service. Having experts available quickly means that the quality of excavation and recording is improved. Where there are particularly important finds the experts provide on-site advice and assistance.
 
Our in house human osteologist team includes Jackie McKinley who is one of the foremost experts in this field. Identification of human remains, their excavation, handling, cleaning and storage can be provided by Jackie or under her supervision. Her work on cremated remains is considered the best in Europe, she has pioneered methodologies for the recovery and analysis of human bone and she has published numerous papers on the subject.
 
With in-house reference collections and professional photography, access to X-ray facilities, isotope and DNA analysis, Wessex Archaeology provides the complete service.
 

Key Capabilities

 

Environmental Archaeology

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Environmental archaeologists analyse preserved organic material recovered from samples taken from archaeological investigations.
 
Biological remains are a rich source of archaeological information. By studying the minute, preserved remains of plants (such as charcoal, seeds and pollen) and animals (such as snails and microfossils), and buried soils and sediments, our environmental specialists reveal how people’s lives were influenced by and, in turn, altered the environments in which they lived and worked. Environmental remains provide evidence of a site’s ecology and hydrology, of its occupants’ subsistence activities from foraging to farming, of their craft and industrial activities and of their waste disposal.  
 
The environmental archaeologists who are part of our Geoservices Team, have specific areas of expertise which provide input at all stages in the archaeological process. They have access to fully equipped laboratory and processing facilities at our Salisbury Head Office which houses reference collections for all types of environmental evidence, an on-site flotation system and drying ovens. We can prepare pollen and micromorphology slides, and have ready access to university-based Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and palynology facilities. 
 
We can record and interpret soils and sediments on land and from the seabed, providing expert advice at the time of discovery. We also undertake surveys on land using techniques like augering, boreholes, magnetic susceptibility, and at sea using vibrocoring.
 
Land snails and microfossils such as foraminfera are key indicators for micro-environments and climate change. Having the expertise in-house means that the on-site sampling is directly correlated with sediments and stratigraphy.
 
Having in-house botantists and palynologists means that we also provide a complete service for identifying and reporting on all types of plant remains; from pollen to charcoal, from charred to mineralised plant remains.
 

Key Capabilities

Assessment & Analysis:
 
 

Geoarchaeology

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Geoarchaeologists combine earth sciences and archaeological techniques to analyse buried soils and sediments both on land and underwater. This tells us what past environments were like and allows us to understand how they developed and changed over time. 
 
Changes to the environment occur naturally due to climatic variation but they can also be attributed to human impact, such as woodland clearance and land drainage. Coupled with environmental analyses geoarchaeological techniques can provide a rich source of information and a unique perspective on the development of archaeological deposits and site formation.
 
Wessex Archaeology’s geoarchaeologists are part of our Geoservices Team and have access to a wide range of analytical tools and processing facilities. They have considerable experience of survey techniques including the mechanical excavation of deep geoarchaeological test pits, borehole and vibrocore surveys, hand auger surveys using dutch and gouge augers, and recording exposures in quarries. They can also create computer generated 2D and 3D deposit models.
 
Wessex Archaeology is one of the leading innovators in this emerging area and we work in partnership with our local universities to ensure access to a comprehensive range of Facilities. We are the industry partner for a NERC CASE PhD studentship in geoarchaeology with the universities of Cambridge and Durham.
 

Key Capabilities

Graphics & Design

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The WA Graphics Team is one of Britain’s leading teams of archaeological illustrators and designers with many years of visual communication experience between them. They provide a comprehensive and professional illustration, interpretation and design service for a wide range of reports, publications, museum and educational materials.
 
The Graphics Team works closely with our IT Team to develop innovative ways of presenting data and have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to provide value for money along with reliability and excellence.
Contact
Karen Nichols on 03303 133433
or email k.nichols@wessexarch.co.uk
 
Request for WA image reproduction
For use of our images please download and complete a copy of the PDF here
and return it to Pippa Bradley
 
For more examples of their work please browse
through the links or go to the Gallery.

Association of Heritage Interpretation

 

Conservation Services

Wessex Archaeology offers high quality in-house expertise in object conservation. Our conservator works closely with experts and specialists to provide a rapid, comprehensive service for terrestrial and marine archaeology, and social history collections. 
 
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Lynn Wootten ACR (ICON accredited conservator)  
Lynn has over 35 years professional experience in conservation.
 

Key Capabilities

Services provided include x-raying facilities and a wide range of treatments for small finds and social history items. We also provide on site advice and assistance with collections care, as well as training and outreach.
 

Case Studies

 

For more information about conservation issues please contact 
Lynn Wootten

 
 

Publication

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When an excavation ends, the post-excavation process begins. Fieldwork can generate a huge archive of stratigraphic, artefactual and environmental data, and the Post-excavation team, with its dedicated post-excavation managers, has a central role in assessing the archaeological significance of the excavation’s findings and in combining the results of its analysis into a report for public dissemination. 
 
As well as co-ordinating the publication of Wessex Archaeology’s own excavations, the Post-excavation team has also undertaken the analysis and publication of fieldwork conducted by other archaeological organisations.
 

Key Capabilities

 
For more information about our publications visit Our Books.