Celebrate National Archaeology Week

July 2nd, 2008

National Archaeology Week 2008 is nine days of events beginning on the 12th July. This annual event is organised nationally by the Council for British Archaeology and aims to give everyone the opportunity to learn about the heritage that is all around us by becoming involved in archaeology. This year Time Travelling by Water will be supporting events at Salisbury Museum on the 12th July where we will be celebrating and exploring our prehistoric past.

Visit the Time Travelling by Water stand to learn about the last Ice Age, between 70,000 and 10,000 years ago. During the last Ice Age the planet became very cold and water froze into huge sheets of ice. As the water froze, the seas retreated only to return as the climate warmed and the ice melted. Dry land where people, plants and animals once lived is now covered by water. It is in these currently underwater areas that we can expect to find some of the best evidence of how people lived during the last Ice Age.

Explore the evidence yourself and become a marine archaeologist by using diving equipment to explore submerged finds. See if you can sort the modern finds from those that are truly prehistoric. You might even find some real mammoth remains!

This is just one of the many exciting things you can do at Salisbury Museum on the 12th of July. You can also build ‘Stonehenge’ on the back lawn, reconstruct the face of a Bronze Age person and try your hand at metal detecting. There will be demonstrations of prehistoric flint knapping and bronze casting. In the museum’s lecture theatre you can explore the process archaeologists use to find out about our past and try some archaeological digging and recording techniques yourself! You can also view the museum’s displays including the newly opened Inspired by Stonehenge exhibition.

Entrance to the museum for National Archaeology Day is free and the museum is located opposite the cathedral cloisters, in Cathedral Close. We look forward to seeing you on what promises to be a spectacular day!

For more information on National Archaeology Week and other activities that will be happening across the country this July, visit the CBA’s National Archaeology Week website.

Workshop Details Online

June 26th, 2008

Details of the five workshops being offered to schools in the South-West by Time Travelling by Water are now available online. Read about our exciting workshop topics, the activities involved in them and how the workshops relate to the national curriculum.

Purton Hulks

June 26th, 2008

One of Wessex Archaeology’s geophysicists using a gradiometer to detect buried vesselsTime Travelling by Water spent the weekend in Purton, Gloucestershire. Here, where the bank of the Severn Estuary meets the Gloucester-Sharpness canal, are the hulks of around 80 boats that were deliberately beached to stop the bank eroding and the two water courses joining. The first vessels sailed up what was then a shingle bank in the early 1900’s and over the following 90 years around 70 further vessels were added. This was such an effective method of stabilising the bank that the site now consists of a broad strip of grassy land with the remains of over 30 of the hulks visible on the surface. The rest of the vessels now lie beneath the grass. This amazing collection represents over 100 years of maritime history and is an important site for learning about our seafaring past.

The aim of Friday’s activities was to conduct a geophysical feasibility survey over selected portions of the site in order to locate some of the buried vessels. This was done by surveying two areas in detail and scanning a larger area to the west of the site. The areas were identified for us by local historian Paul Barnett who has spent many years researching and generating interest in the hulks. The survey was a great success! Whilst the results of the scan survey are still being processed and examined, initial study of the results from the detailed survey show the traces of several vessels that now lie beneath the turf. These are shown on an earlier map of the site but our survey shows one vessel in particular that was reported to have drifted into the estuary is still in place. Now that we have demonstrated that this type of survey is effective on this site it is hoped that further work of this nature will be conducted in the future.  

Time Travelling by Water chose this weekend to conduct the survey as our friends from the Nautical Archaeological Society (NAS) were also on site. The NAS were recording vessels with local volunteers in order to keep an accurate record of the location and condition of the hulks. This is important as the vessels are under threat, both from natural decomposition of the wood from which some of them are made, and from human actions such as vandalism and arson. The work of the NAS and their volunteers last weekend will help to show people in the future what the site was like in 2008. Younger visitors to the site took part in a scavenger hunt and did their own vessel recording in the form of ‘postcard to the future’. The children wrote their thoughts on the site and described some of the vessels as they are today on a blank postcard that will be kept by Paul Barnett with the site archive. This way, their postcards will remain alongside the work of some of the foremost researchers of the Purton Hulks and enable future generations to read what people think of this important site today.


Welcome to Time Travelling by Water

February 27th, 2008

Wessex Archaeology’s Time Travelling by Water project launches to schools, clubs and groups in Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset in summer 2008.

Our Coastal and Marine team have been working to protect our marine heritage since the early 1990s. This exciting new initiative, part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, aims to provide learning and access to the work that they have undertaken.

Through the use of five themed workshops, tailored to the KS2 and KS3 curriculum, Time Travelling by Water explores our underwater heritage using real artefacts and first-hand dive evidence. Talks suitable for adult audiences are also available, including lectures to students of A-level archaeology.

To book a free workshop for your school or group, please contact Education Officer Gemma White.

Email g.white@wessexarch.co.uk or telephone 01722 326 867.

Time Travelling by Water