We are very happy to have been invited to contribute to the display cabinet in the foyer in order to show our clients and our colleagues the work we undertake in the environmental department. Thank you Rachael Seager Smith for providing us with this opportunity! We are a diverse bunch of people but we have tried to cover all the aspects of our interdisciplinary work.

See our Facebook page for a video of the display: https://www.facebook.com/wessexarch/

On the first shelf, dedicated to palynology (the study of pollen), Alex Brown has summarised the methods of pollen analysis and has given a case study as an example. Pollen samples in different stages of preparation (unprepared, extracted and mounted on a slide) are shown.

Nicki Mulhall has displayed on the second shelf an assortment of snails from our reference collection and a site in Amesbury (The Old Dairy, Wiltshire) to show the amazing diversity that can be observed from those tiny little creatures and how this can provide information about past local environments.

On the third shelf, Sam Rogerson has impressed us with her skills brought from the world of theatre, creating a small-scale model of a fully-functioning crop-drying oven. This particular model is based on known examples from the Anglo-Saxon period, but which would have evolved from earlier T-shaped crop-dryers relatively frequent in rural sites of Romano-British periods. Our archaeobotanist, Inés López-Dóriga, has shown the diverse types of charred plant remains that are often recovered from within the different areas of the ovens.

A display on molluscs A model of a crop-drying oven

The fourth shelf displays examples of plant macroremains preserved by carbonisation and waterlogging. The waterlogged deposit is an exceptional flax assemblage which comes from a site in Doncaster and was processed by Liz Chambers in the Sheffield office. The carbonised assemblage of peas and lentils was brilliantly spotted upon processing by Samira Idriss, and originated from a site in Surrey excavated by our Kent fieldwork team.

The bottom shelf, dedicated to mineralised deposits, shows two models of cesspits (again the master work of Sam) or latrines, and an example from a site in Windsor of a lump of faecal concreted material which contains small fragments of animal bone and seeds, and small fragments of cloth (possible toilet wipes or female sanitary pads) from a medieval cessy deposit in Winchester which we have recently analysed.

Plant macroremains preserved by carbonisation and waterlogging Models of cesspits