What is Archaeology?

Archaeology the study of human history and prehistory through excavation and the analysis of artefacts and other physical remains including buildings and documents.


What is Wessex Archaeology? 

Wessex Archaeology is one of the largest archaeological practices in the country, employing over 200 archaeologists across six offices, and working across the country.

We work with councils, developers and heritage organisations to ensure that archaeological remains are recorded and preserved before work begins on new development schemes.

Wessex Archaeology, which was set up in 1979 and is based just outside the medieval city of Salisbury, is also a charity, devoted to educating the public about archaeology through lectures, events and public relations. Our surplus is put back into our charitable work or to improving our service to clients


What does Wessex Archaeology do?

Archaeology in Britain has been revolutionised in the last decade by a change in planning regulations that can require developers to have land archaeologically assessed and excavated before construction begins.

Our projects can range from one archaeologist surveying and recording a disused 19th century inn before it is converted into a restaurant, to 25 staff excavating a Roman town in advance of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

Wessex Archaeology works in sectors such as housing developments, extraction, utilities, road schemes, railway and airport projects – anywhere that has the potential for significant archaeological remains.

Archaeology is not just simply digging in a trench. Wessex Archaeology also carries out building surveys, underwater archaeology, coastal studies, human remains analysis, heritage management, illustration and 3D computer modelling, finds analysisenvironmental workpublication and video.

Not all of our projects are as a result of planning regulations, for instance Wessex is carrying out strategic work for both Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland, assessing maritime wrecks.


Where does Wessex Archaeology work?

We work across the UK and abroad, not just in the Wessex area. We also have six offices providing archaeological services in Maidstone, Sheffield, Bristol, Welshpool and Edinburgh.

Our work is offshore, too. We have carried out heritage management projects across Europe, in Africa, and Australia. Our underwater projects range from regular survey off the UK coast, to desk-based work for European countries, Africa and even the Bay of Mexico.


Is Wessex Archaeology a company or a charity? 

Wessex Archaeology is both a limited company and a registered charity. This reflects our commercial work which funds our remit to educate the public about our work and archaeology in general.

Our company and charitable object is “to promote the education of the public in the subjects of arts, culture, heritage & science through the pursuit of archaeology”.

Many of our staff take part in outreach activities to promote archaeology to the outside world by giving talks and workshops and organising events.


How is Wessex Archaeology funded?

Wessex Archaeology is entirely funded from its commercial work. We do not receive any direct state funding, either from central or local government.


Who does Wessex Archaeology employ?

Wessex Archaeology employs more than 200 staff on permanent and fixed-term contracts. Most of these are archaeologists either working in the field or at our offices around the UK. All of our staff are experienced and trained professionals, most with degrees in archaeology. Some are national experts in their field.

Wessex also employs specialist staff in design, publications, photography, public relations, finance, administration, IT and education.


What has Wessex Archaeology found?

Wessex Archaeology’s staff have made many important discoveries over the last 40 years, many of which are now in museums. 

The finds are taken from the site to Wessex Archaeology’s headquarters, where they are recorded, washed, analysed and stored. All are sent to museums for display. A report is prepared for our clients on what we have found, and we frequently prepare a article on the archaeology to be published in an academic journal. For larger site we will produce an academic monograph or book. Copies of many of our reports are available for download from the Our Work section of this website.


How to become an archaeologist? 

Many people want to be archaeologists and it can be a very rewarding career. Archaeologists have many specialisms including excavation, buildings, maritime, geophysics, computing, illustration, artefacts and environmental analysis to name but a few.

Try these links for further information. Our website has a vacancies section, which gives the sort of job requirements needed and an application form. Try the links below for more information: