The Excavation

Excavation of the Archer's burial in progressExcavation of the Archer's burial in progressOn Friday May 3 2002, a team of archaeologists were excavating in advance of a housing scheme at Amesbury, Wiltshire, for developers Bloor Homes and Persimmon Homes South Coast. It is a requirement under planning regulations that developers have the land they are building on surveyed for archaeological remains and have these excavated.
The archaeologists were expected remains from Roman times from a cemetery at the site which had yielded some interesting finds.
Work in the area was drawing to a close when they began investigating the far corner of what would be a school built for the housing development. Work started in the morning and soon a grave was found containing Beaker pottery dating to 2,500 years before the Romans. Immediately all staff began concentrating their efforts on the grave. Other staff from head office began arriving, and the moments were captured on camera and video camera (see photographic and video section).
Gold hair tressesGold hair tressesBy mid-afternoon they found a gold hair tress. Excitement grew and the archaeologists pressed on, knowing they could not leave the site unattended over the weekend (a bank holiday) in case it was interfered with. They finally finished the excavation by car headlights at just before 2am. The Amesbury Archer had made a dramatic reappearance above ground.
None of the archaeologists begrudged their overtime. For many this will have been the most exciting find of their careers.
 After the excavation was completed, the remains were taken the seven miles back to Wessex Archaeology's find department, where they were cleaned, recorded and analysed. They were later tested by Wessex Archaeology's own staff and by other organisations. These were: the British Museum, the National Museums of Wales and Scotland, the British Geological Survey, the National Trust Museum at Avebury and the Universities of Durham, Exeter, Oxford and Southampton.
Wessex Archaeology contacted the media and within a few days the news had gone around the world, featuring on the BBC national news, the Daily Mail and magazines in Germany and Poland, among others. Papers were written for academic journals.
Later onLater on