Image © Jon Egging Trust

On a scorching April day, 10 members of the Jon Egging Trust Blue Skies programme visited the Wessex Archaeology offices, Salisbury, to enjoy an activity-packed day learning all about archaeology and the different work Wessex is involved in. Judging by the questions and answers from the students throughout the day, we could tell that some had been doing their research in anticipation!

The Jon Egging Trust is a youth engagement programme designed to motivate young people to reach their full potential through inspiring experiences. New groups of eager students visit Wessex Archaeology every year, and take part in sessions focusing on communication and problem-solving, and how they play essential roles in archaeology.

The workshop run by the Coastal & Marine team was a great example of this; our divers described what conditions can be like on underwater excavations and how vital communication with your colleagues can be, through a blind-folded dive simulation exercise. The students also had fun trying to identify a variety of finds recovered from underwater.

A visit to the Environmental department gave the students the opportunity to get their hands dirty and process environmental soil samples from a number of sites across the country, including the recently discovered Roman cemetery at Ludgershall. They learnt how much can be discovered about life in the past through traces of pollen, charcoal and seeds preserved in soils.

The students were fascinated by the early Victorian skeletons from a site in London, that had been laid out for examination by our Osteoarchaeologists. There’s nothing quite like seeing your first skeleton! The study of human remains reveals a huge amount of detail about an individual, including what diseases and injuries they suffered from, their age and height, and even what they ate.

An artefact-handling session with the Finds department allowed the students to see what type of material is found on archaeological sites. There was a particular emphasis on pottery and pottery production throughout the ages, as one of the final tasks of the day was to create their own prehistoric-style vessel. This proved to be one of the most popular activities of the day.

Finally, the students were introduced to the Early Iron Age site at East Chisenbury, where they would later try out excavation for the first time. Several different charities and volunteer groups have been involved with the excavation of the Chisenbury midden over the years, and the students were eagerly anticipating finding as many interesting artefacts as had been found previous years! Look out for the follow-up blog soon…

See also:

  • Read a blog from the Jon Egging Trust about the day
  • Search 'Jon Egging Trust' on our blog pages for news of past Jon Egging Trust Inspiration Days at Wessex Archaeology

By Natalia Hunt, Field Archaeologist