It’s a very special day for Wessex Archaeology. Forty years ago, on 1 May 1979, the Wessex Archaeological Committee (WAC), forerunner of the Trust for Wessex Archaeology, came into existence under Chairman Bill Putnam.

The new Committee was formed of the archaeological units of the five Wessex 'home counties'; Berkshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight. Its role was to devise and implement policies for archaeological research and investigation in the Wessex area and advise what is now Historic England on where funding for rescue archaeology would be best apportioned.

In 1979, the Committee’s first employees took up appointments at the new offices in the Blackmore Museum in St. Ann Street, Salisbury, under Director Dr Ann Ellison. Among them was Dr Phil Harding, who currently stands as Wessex Archaeology’s longest serving member of staff.

The first ever excavation as the WAC was ‘W1’, a site at Wraysbury, a small village between Windsor and Staines. The project was a sampling excavation of Bronze Age, Roman and late Saxon/early Medieval settlement near the parish church, Wraysbury St Andrews. 

You can find out more about our 40 ‘Star Sites’ that we’re highlighting over the year here.

We’re celebrating this milestone as an organisation in June, but you can get involved by sharing your birthday messages on social media. Visit our Facebook page and use our special birthday frame over your photos and videos.