We're delighted to announce that Wessex Archaeology has been awarded the Sandford Award for Heritage Education in recognition of the quality of our programme of community engagement and educational activities!

Our ability to provide high quality heritage learning was assessed through a virtual interview by two judges for the Sandford Award; an independently judged, quality-assured assessment of education provision. The judges report described Wessex Archaeology’s programme as ‘an outstanding service for schools’, praising the range of activities and resources used to deliver heritage learning, from on-site workshops and outreach visits to loan boxes and virtual sessions.

Wessex Archaeology brings the past to life with award-winning community engagement Wessex Archaeology brings the past to life with award-winning community engagement

The report commended the programme for effectively drawing on the skills and expertise of Wessex Archaeology’s specialists, encouraging the development of archaeological skills such as close observation and evidence-based deduction. Judges also noted the adherence to good practice in heritage learning, describing how the Community Engagement team employ techniques including open-ended questioning and pupil-led discovery, in addition to their commitment to intermodal learning which allows flexibility for different kinds of learners to approach activities in ways which engage them.


As an educational charity, helping the public to engage with archaeology is a fundamental aspect of Wessex Archaeology’s work. The organisation has been developing its community engagement and education capabilities with particular focus in recent years, including the inception of a dedicated team of community engagement specialists in 2018. The continuous development of Wessex Archaeology’s community engagement function was noted in the Sandford Award judges report, which recognised the organisation’s successful transition to digital methods in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Samuel Fieldhouse, Community & Education Manager at Wessex Archaeology, says: “I'm proud that the Sandford Award judges recognise our passion for hands on, intermodal engagement that puts young people in control of their learning. Collaborating with teachers and community groups, we will continue to evaluate and develop our programme to provide exciting opportunities for young people to use archaeology as a stimulus for creative cross curricular learning.”

Chris Brayne, Chief Executive at Wessex Archaeology, says: “As an educational charity devoted to improving public understanding of heritage, heritage education is at the heart of our work. I am delighted to see the efforts of our dedicated team and highly innovative programme recognised with this prestigious award.”

Robin Clutterbuck, Lead Judge at Sandford Award for Heritage Education, says: “The Community Engagement team has been developing an outstanding service for schools, drawing on the skills and expertise of the professional archaeologists. Using classic archaeological approaches which study evidence and suggest interpretations, the team has made excellent use of the extensive collections of artefacts to offer an exemplary service based on sound pedagogical principles.”

Find out more about Wessex Archaeology’s Community & Engagement capabilities and book a workshop or session here.