Wessex Archaeology is the UK’s leading provider of archaeological and heritage services, and an educational charity. Established for over 40 years, it offers an unrivalled range of services above ground, below ground and underwater, delivered by over 320 industry experts from an international network of offices.
Working in partnership with clients across a variety of sectors to deliver practical, sustainable solutions to effectively manage heritage risk, Wessex Archaeology's experience and knowledge helps clients achieve successful planning outcomes, engage communities and stakeholders, and enhance the value of national historical assets.
As a registered charity, community engagement is at the heart of the organisation's activity - with commitments to the promotion of education in science, the arts, culture and heritage. The knowledge gained through serving commercial clients is used to enhance the experiences of individuals, communities, and organisations alike.
Scope of work: Since 2018 Wessex Archaeology has delivered retained archaeology services for Sofia across the marine element of the scheme. This has included developing archaeological mitigation strategies in line with marine planning consent conditions, supporting pre-construction surveys and the detailed design of the scheme as it develops.
Economic and employment Impact: Wessex Archaeology maintains the largest capacity for marine archaeological consultancy and marine geophysical data interpretation in the UK and Europe. Our work on Sofia has deployed a dedicated core team of around six marine archaeological consultants and technical specialists across several offices both in Scotland and England for a substantial proportion of the last two years.
One major value we have seen from Sofia is the rapid transition to much larger scales of marine renewables development, both in terms of the seabed area and size of infrastructure. This has driven the collection of greater quantities of very high resolution marine geophysical datasets which provide a better-than-ever view of the seabed. We have been able to provide the sustained levels of consultancy capacity and technical resource required to deliver a project of this scale. Whilst the scaling-up of technical and archaeological analysis offers new challenges, Sofia has created new opportunities for enhanced understanding of the cultural heritage, leading to focused management prior to and during the construction phase.
Training and development: Sofia has provided valuable opportunities to hone and develop our consultancy, project management, marine geophysical and geoarchaeological workflows to best meet the pace and scale of pre-construction activities. This is driving an increasingly integrated, streamlined and cost-effective approach across all our marine-oriented teams which supports their professional development, but with the major benefits of embedding and streamlining cultural heritage management within Sofia as the project develops.
"Sofia is a unique and refreshing project to be a part of. Marine cultural heritage is being considered at the very heart of the project, with opportunities to develop and embed tailored cultural heritage management at every step. Our regular communication with all other technical and consents teams across the project ensures that our findings and recommendations are shared quickly and widely across the project. This arrangement enables us to best understand the balance of considerations that happen with every decision and to tailor our advice and recommendations clearly and most effectively for each situation – which is ultimately the best situation for our Client and the marine cultural heritage resource within the project area."
- Danielle Wilkinson, Project Manager