Party celebrations at Wessex Archaeology

On Friday 21 June, members of staff from Wessex Archaeology’s UK offices held simultaneous parties to celebrate the organisation’s 40th anniversary.

The Salisbury and Bristol offices joined together at Old Sarum Castle in Wiltshire for an open-air event which included musical entertainment from Wessex Archaeology staff, an outdoor bar, Greek street food and woodfired pizza, garden games and children’s activities. The castle mound offered the perfect setting to watch the spectacular skies of the summer solstice and the view stretching across the surrounding ancient landscape.

“Our position today is the result of hundreds of people all making their unique contribution; all working to understand and to communicate the past… The impact this organisation has had over its history is impressive. We’ve consistently delivered world class archaeology and played a significant role in the development of our profession. Members of Wessex Archaeology staff have carried an ethos of high-quality work and a commitment to public benefit wherever they have gone.”

Chris Brayne, CEO

Wessex Archaeology: Celebrating 40 years Wessex Archaeology: Celebrating 40 years Wessex Archaeology: Celebrating 40 years

The Sheffield team celebrated at the Kelham Island Museum, which houses the artefacts, images and archives from Sheffield’s industrial past, situated on a man-made island over 900 years old. The team was also celebrating the office’s 10th anniversary of opening, with open-air food, drink, games and entertainment fittingly provided by the Steel Songbirds.

In Maidstone, the team gathered together for a barbeque in the sun in the area in front of the office, looking over the River Medway.

Wessex Archaeology: Celebrating 40 years Wessex Archaeology: Celebrating 40 years Wessex Archaeology: Celebrating 40 years

The Edinburgh team meanwhile enjoyed a Union Canal cruise with a buffet and drinks, from the canal basin in Linlithgow to the Avon Aqueduct, which carries the Union Canal over the River Avon. The historic viaduct offered a perfect vantage point for enjoying the solstice weather, at 86ft above the ground.

 “What a great story and journey this organisation has been on so far and I’m very proud to be on it with you all… From the beginning, Wessex Archaeology has been right at the forefront in contributing to the development and the understanding of our amazing heritage story… Wessex Archaeology has grown, adapted and expanded across the country and internationally, but it has never stopped providing that cultural benefit which we need as a country now more than ever. As we’ve grown, your efforts have directly contributed to this gold standard.”

Dr Ian Selby, Chairman

Each office held a baking competition to create the most original Wessex Archaeology-themed cake with the winners given a certificate, a voucher, and a 40th anniversary t-shirt. The judges were very impressed with the creativity of the cakes, which ranged from borehole samples to burials.

A huge thank you to all the helpers and volunteers who made each of these events the fantastic and fitting celebrations they were.

Wessex Archaeology: Celebrating 40 years with cake

This year, Wessex Archaeology celebrates its 40th anniversary, offering the chance to reflect on the challenges and successes that have shaped the organisation and to look ahead at what the future brings, both for the organisation and the wider industry.


Reflecting on the past

For any organisation 40 years marks an impressive milestone, and for Wessex Archaeology we can be proud that our history spans almost the entirety of the modern profession. Our longevity and expansion prove that professional archaeology is sustainable, as a career and as a business. 

Since our inception in 1979, which saw the counties of the Wessex region create the Wessex Archaeological Committee (WAC) which was later to develop into the Trust for Wessex Archaeology Ltd (WA), we have survived through booms and recessions, always remaining true to our core values. We have both witnessed and engendered significant changes within the industry, through partnership with colleague organisations and industry bodies such as CiFA and FAME, and through the development of innovative methodologies, research techniques and technology – and we continue to play a major role in the sector’s development. 


Looking to the Future

As we enter 2019 and celebrate our 40th year, we embrace the opportunities ahead but also acknowledge and plan for the challenges. This year will be a turbulent one for the UK in light of Brexit, and we have our part to play in helping to hold communities together and in maintaining our international ties. It is important that we continue to draw attention to the cohesive value of the heritage information we deliver and the positive impact of the experiences we provide to our communities. 

We also have the chance to examine our own story and set a course for the future. Wessex Archaeology’s sustained growth is the result of the passion and expertise of our staff, our continued innovation and the quality of our extensive range of services. Quality is what drives us; both in the delivery of our services to clients and in our dedication to enriching the lives of communities through archaeology. The restorative effects that involvement with archaeology and heritage can bring is something that our clients are feeling emboldened to invest in, and we pride ourselves in offering a pioneering service in this field. 


Our goals

Our customers span a diverse range of industries, from construction, utilities, infrastructure, energy and defence to charities and educational organisations. Our goal is to ensure that we continue to listen to their needs so that we can maintain a clear understanding of their requirements and understand how we can integrate more closely with their processes. With a commitment to quality and an increasingly diverse capability, we will ensure that they can rely on Wessex Archaeology, trusting us to advise them well and to deliver on our promises.

In the delivery of our services, we aim to live and breathe the seven core values that have defined us for 40 years: collaborative behaviour, authenticity and ethics, customer focus, applied knowledge, reliability and resilience, communicating passion and innovative thinking. These benefit our customers, stakeholders, staff and the wider public, and ensure that our contribution to sustainable development is valued for its quality and professionalism. 

As a driving force in the sector, we aim to continue developing our technology and expertise. This flexible and innovative approach has contributed to our dominance in the marine and coastal sector, where we continue to retain a 70% market share of offshore projects. Within the wider sector, we will continue to strengthen our market-leading position based on quality, completeness of service offer, capacity and reliability. 

For our staff we continue our commitments to training and wellbeing, ensuring that our employees feel safe, valued and fulfilled in their work, as well as being challenged to grow and develop new skills.


Anniversary celebrations for 40 years

We are rolling out a comprehensive programme of activities and celebrations to mark our 40th year; commemorating our achievements, cultivating new relationships, developing our public benefit remit and ensuring that clients, staff and communities feel the commercial and wellbeing benefits of our work. 

Updates and information about the 40th anniversary will be posted on this page monthly. You can also send us an email below if you would like to be sent our newsletters.

Chris Brayne, Chief Executive