During the past year the archive team have been busy preparing and depositing projects for various museums across the country. Wessex Archaeology’s most recent deposition in May was by the team based in the Salisbury office. This was one of their largest deposit in recent years and they travelled as far away as …. Salisbury!
Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, like many other museums and archive storage facilities, have for many years struggled to find suitable space to house their collections, and there has been a moratorium on accepting new archives for the best part of ten years. Consequently we have a very large backlog. Thankfully the museum was able to secure funding and found a location where they could create a new store. The location? Old Sarum Business Park, where a certain commercial archaeology unit has their head office. In fact, they have become our neighbours in the newly refurbished Unit 7 (next to our archive unit).
The opportunity to deposit in the new store resulted in the archives team looking at around 180 projects. Of these, the team were able to prepare over 160, including some from the 1990s! These older projects were re-packaged (we used to package finds in brown paper bags!) and relabelled. In all over 500 finds boxes were readied for deposition, making this the largest deposition the Salisbury team have prepared for some years.
Revisiting these older projects was fascinating. It is clear just how much we have progressed, not just in how we document our fieldwork but also our post excavation procedures. The increased use of digital data over a relatively short time has altered our recording procedures, although it was surprising to see a few familiar faces in old site photographs.
Deposition day in May was thankfully dry and sunny, the archives team (helped by the finds team) ensured a smooth transit of boxes from our units into the new store. It was satisfying to see our boxes neatly stacked on the new shelves, and to see lots of empty spaces on ours!
For now, it seems the archives team are on a roll with yet another successful deposition, which offered a chance to review projects from WA’s history, appropriately in a year of celebration of our 40th anniversary. The project review has also created a few ideas on procedures that will in turn help with future backlog depositions.
Wessex Archaeology would like to thank Adrian Green and Megan Fowler of Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum for their advice and assistance with the deposition.