Steve sieving environmental samples"Following on from the success of last summer’s excavation at Barrow Clump, two soldiers, Steve and Kenny, have been doing work placements at Wessex Archaeology’s Salisbury office.
Steve has been working with the environmental archaeology team. He has been busy sieving and sorting soil samples. These samples have been collected during excavations on site and can reveal a number of things, including small artefacts that may have been missed on site as well as any surviving environmental material, which could tell us more about the environment of the past.
While Steve has been working on the post-excavation side of things, Kenny has been out in the field with the excavation team. He has worked on a variety of sites and been able to excavate a number of exciting features. With a lot of this fieldwork being over the winter, it has given him a real taste of what being a field archaeologist can be like!"Since Angus’s blog was written, Steve has completed his discharge from the army and been hired as a member of the environmental team at WA. His natural abilities and enthusiasm, as well as the skills he acquired during his work placement, have made Steve a valuable asset to the organisation and we welcome him on board. Find out more about our work with Op Nightingale on the Project Florence webpages and on the blog.
On a sunny Thursday 2nd May the students participating in the Jon Egging Trust Blue Skies programme (Bournemouth) visited the Salisbury office to learn about what archaeology is, who archaeologists are, and how such a diverse range of people and skills come together to work towards a successful outcome.Kirsten Dinwiddy, Angus Forshaw, Steve Winterton, Sue Nelson and Phil Harding all contributed, explaining about their roles within the company, and discussing the variety of evidence we gather in order to better understand the lives of those who lived in the past. Operation Nightingale team.
On Saturday 27th April 2013 we held an open day for the public and local residents to learn more about the exciting discoveries made at the CEMEX UK run Kingsmead Quarry, Horton near Wraysbury.The exhibition contained a selection of the most fascinating finds with experts on hand to answer questions and explain the significance of the artefacts. This was an opportunity for local people to see some of the brilliant discoveries that have been made over the 10 years of excavation at Horton. Of course Phil Harding’s demonstration of flint knapping and Jackie McKinley’s skeleton stand proved extremely popular. Beaker burial that was discovered at the site. click here
The latest edition of the Scottish Diver Magazine includes an article on Project SAMPHIRE, a Coastal & Marine archaeology project for the west coast of Scotland. The project brings together local communities, divers and professional underwater archaeologists to support the identification, investigation and understanding of Scotland’s marine heritage.
Paul Baggaley has just returned from Bremerhaven, Germany, where he spent the week giving a practical course in marine geophysics to staff of the National Maritime Museum of Germany and students from the MA in Maritime Archaeology course from the University of Southern Denmark.The course used equipment owned by the German National Shipping Museum to demonstrate the application of sidescan sonar and magnetometer surveys to investigating wreck sites. Following a couple of days fieldwork, the course was completed by a day of lectures and practical sessions discussing the interpretation and processing of geophysical data. Sidescan sonar image of Bremerhaven wreck
The two artist’s reconstructions are an impression of how the person may have looked during their life, and when placed in the grave. We know that the skeleton was that of an adult aged 35 or over and that they were placed in a crouched position, resting on their right side, facing east with their head towards the south – a rite that tends to be reserved for females at this time. Although the skull could be lifted in a soil block the bone was too degraded to attempt any form of accurate facial reconstruction – the face is that of the female artist!We have made the decision that the beads, along with an absence of more typical male grave goods, indicate a probable female burial. However, this assumption could be wrong as a number of beads have been found with men. This issue is further complicated as such items could represent gender and/or could be gifts from female mourners. click here.
Why there are no images of the skeleton
On Saturday 20 April, 13 members of the Damerham Archaeology project took part in a pottery and animal bone identification workshop at the Wessex Archaeology offices in Salisbury. The Damerham Project, led by Martyn Barber of English Heritage and Helen Wickstead of Kingston University, is looking at cropmark sites mapped from aerial photographs around the village of Damerham on the Hampshire/Dorset border. Last year’s fieldwork, on a long barrow, dug through a post-medieval quarry, as well as part of the barrow ditch.The pottery and bone workshop was aimed at volunteers working on the project, who would like to be able to develop their recognition skills to use on site. The volunteers were able to handle examples of pottery spanning six millennia, and a wide range of animal bones. Each session included a short ‘test’ at the end to see how much the participants had learned during the day! Feedback was enthusiastic, and we hope that the workshop will enhance the participants’ enjoyment of their next fieldwork exercise.
Archaeological excavations at CEMEX’s Kingsmead Quarry in Berkshire not far from Windsor have revealed a rare 'Beaker' burial of 'Copper Age' date (2500-2200 BC). Found within the grave were some of Britain’s earliest gold ornaments (five tubular beads), along with 29 bead fragments of amber and 30 beads of black lignite.
The burial contained the possible remains of a woman who was at least 35 years old. At the time of her burial, she wore a necklace containing small tubular sheet gold beads and black disc beads of lignite - a material similar to jet. A number of larger perforated amber buttons/fasteners were also found in a row along her body, which may indicate that she was wearing clothing, perhaps of patterned woven wool, at the time of her burial. Further lignite beads from near her hands suggest that she wore a bracelet.The woman’s burial represents an unusual and important find as only a small number of Beaker burials from Britain contain gold ornaments, and most are associated with male skeletons. It would appear that their religious beliefs dictate that most men were buried in a crouched position with the head resting to the north and facing east. With women the body position is often reversed with the head to the south. The woman was found with a large drinking vessel, unusually placed on her hip rather than by her feet or shoulder. The fine pottery vessel had been decorated with a comb-like stamp.
Beaker using communities lived across Europe around 2,500 BC around about the time of Stonehenge. In more Western regions, such as Britain, they were the first people to use copper and gold (giving rise to the term Copper Age or Chalcolithic). They buried their people in special ways, characteristically with a distinctive type of pot, known to archaeologist as a Beaker. They were also buried with other fine objects such as metal, stone and bone.Site Director Gareth Chaffey, of Wessex Archaeology, who has been excavating the site for the last seven years, said: “It is interesting to think who this woman was within her community. She was probably an important person in her society, perhaps holding some standing which gave her access to prestigious, rare and exotic items. She could have been a leader, a person with power and authority, or possibly part of an elite family - perhaps a princess or queen.” Osteologist Jacqueline McKinley (Wessex Archaeology) has examined the skeletal remains, which appear to be those of an adult aged 35 or over, possibly a female. Unfortunately the acid nature of the 'brickearth' soil is far from ideal for the preservation of bone and a lack of surviving collagen limits the possibility of scientific research, such as radiocarbon dating and DNA. Dr Stuart Needham (an expert in Copper Age metalwork) who is presently studying the gold beads said: “Beaker graves of this date are almost unknown in South East England and only a small number of them, and indeed continental Europe, contain gold ornaments. The tubular beads that were found at Kingsmead Quarry are certainly rare in Britain, and this gives the grave tremendous research importance”. It is possible that the beads have been fashioned by cutting up other objects made from sheet gold.The gold beads have been examined by scientists at the University of Bristol and at the University of Reading. CEMEX UK, said : “Kingsmead Quarry has given us some wonderful finds, rare and interesting ones like this Beaker burial and the Neolithic houses. Today, as well as an insight into the lives of our ancestors, the site is providing valuable building materials for construction.” For more information about our work at Kingsmead Horton click here.
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