One of the greatest projects I’ve had the privilege of working on over the years was the excavations at Kingsmead Quarry, Horton, undertaken by Wessex Archaeology over a twelve year period from 2003-2015 prior to mineral extraction of sand and gravel on the site.
To commemorate the successful completion of the project, the team have produced The Horton Crest, designed by Andy Sole and Gareth Chaffey and drawn by Rob Goller.
For me, what set this project apart was the way in which technology played an integral part in the workflows, from the on-site excavation and survey through into post-ex activities. From the early days using Total Station Theodolites (TST) to the groundbreaking deployment of the latest Differential Global Positioning Systems (dGPS) and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), with data flowing through into archaeological information systems (AIS) built around databases and GIS, the project was both driven by technology and was a powerful driver for the development and wider adoption of digital systems on Wessex Archaeology projects.
My small contribution was working on the project GIS which, thanks largely to the foresight and technological understanding of Gareth Chaffey, was used to provide a central spine for all the various activities. The GIS brought together all the various data from teams working on the project and, thanks to some innovative use of survey equipment and development of Wessex Archaeology’s in-house data processing software, was able to plot pretty much any of the information created by the fieldworkers and any of the specialist teams on a feature by feature basis.
Importantly, the use of GIS and databases was directly integrated into the project workflows, with processes and information systems tweaked where necessary to provide a really good level of integration without the use of technology becoming burdensome, rather the technology was able to support and facilitate the overall archaeological process. The use of GIS also facilitated bringing together the results of the various years of excavations, with each successive project adding to the overall digital resource, making it much easier to work with the data from all the seasons of excavations in an integrated fashion.
Overall, the project demonstrates what can be achieved by a dedicated team of archaeologists, finds and environmental specialists, and technologists all working together. Congratulations to Gareth and the rest of the Wessex Archaeology staff on an exemplary job well done.