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Early Medieval Burials from Hinkley Point

November 17th, 2016

Analysis of the human skeletons has continued throughout 2016. Following approval by a range of consultees of a scientific pilot study on the bones, sampling has now been undertaken on a selection of the individuals for traces of ancient DNA.

sharon-and-sarah-in-protective-suits-ready-for-samplingStaff from the Faculty of Life Sciences, Manchester University, visited Cotswold Archaeology’s Kemble office in November to take the samples of bone to their laboratory. Professor Terry Brown and his team are leading experts in extracting and analysing DNA from archaeological bones. Within the spectrum of genetic profiling applications, ancient DNA may be used to identify genetic relationships of individuals on the maternal and paternal side. The particular interest for Hinkley therefore lies in the potential to be able to say something about these relationships among the occupants of the graveyard throughout its use.
Analysing ancient DNA is a high precision science from the beginning. Particular care is needed to avoid contamination by modern DNA, and so the staff involved wore protective clothing, while everyone else was excluded from the lab.

The best samples to take are those from well within the bone where the DNA is more likely to survive. Samples were taken of teeth, where dentine has a chance of surviving uncontaminated within a casing of enamel, and also of the dense petrous bone of the skull.

Preferably, teeth are taken with part of the jaw to limit the chance of contamination.


For the pilot study the samples came from relatively well-preserved skeletons where there was some suggestion of familial relationships because the individuals occupied the same grave, and in one instance where two individuals shared a possible genetic trait. The samples are to be analysed towards the end of 2016 and the results are expected in the first quarter of 2017.

For more information about the project see Archaeology at Hinkley Point blog site.

Archaeological Investigations at Hinkley Point

April 21st, 2016

One of the most extensive archaeological investigations ever undertaken in South West England is reaching its conclusion. At the end of April the final phase of Cotswold Archaeology’s archaeological field works at Hinkley Point C will be complete.

Cotswold Archaeology, in collaboration with the South West Heritage Trust and Somerset County Council, on behalf of EDF Energy has been working on the scheme for the last seven years.  The project has providing a wealth of information about how people have lived, worked, and used the Somerset landscape for more than 5,000 years. The excavations have uncovered a wealth of archaeological evidence ranging from prehistoric farmsteads and Roman buildings to an important Dark Age cemetery site. It has also been possible to investigate post-medieval farmsteads that once occupied this part of Somerset. The scheme has also afforded the opportunity to excavate and then partially recreate a Bronze Age enclosure.

The recreated Bronze Age enclosure

The recreated Bronze Age enclosure

A post-medieval farmstead, known as ‘Corner’

A post-medieval farmstead, known as ‘Corner’

Hinkley Point Archaeology films on YouTube

March 10th, 2015

CA is pleased to present you with a South West Heritage Trust production of our Hinkley Point and Cannington Bypass digs.

Landscapes of Power is a film about our discoveries from the excavations carried out in advance of the development of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in West Somerset.

Cannington Bypass Archaeology focuses on the excavations carried out on the route of Cannington bypass over the summer last year.


For more information check out the South West Heritage Trust YouTube channel.

You can also visit the Museum of Somerset exhibition Landscapes of Power  that is on until the 11th of April.

Click HERE to check out the Somerset Heritage Service outreach project blog.

‘Landscapes of Power – The Archaeology and History of Hinkley Point’ Exhibition

January 16th, 2015

An exhibition about the archaeology and history of Hinkley Point opens at The Museum of Somerset, Taunton Castle on Saturday 17 January. Included in the display will be finds from Cotswold Archaeology’s recent excavations and historic maps which show how the area has more recently developed.

Neil Holbrook will be talking about the archaeology of Hinkley Point at this year’s Current Archaeology Live on 27 February in London.

For more details, please follow the links below:

The Museum of Somerset

Hinkley Point Blog


Archaeology at Hinkley Point, Somerset

April 24th, 2013

Cotswold Archaeology has been excavating at the site of the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset on behalf of EDF Energy. Find out more about what has been found at on the Somerset Heritage Service outreach project Blog

CA Sponsors New Exhibition of the Art of Victor Ambrus

May 3rd, 2016

CA is proud to sponsor of a new exhibition at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton which opened on the 23rd of April. This is the first ever exhibition of paintings by Victor Ambrus, best known for his illustration work on the long running Channel 4 archaeology series Time Team. CA chief Executive Neil Holbrook first met Victor during his Time Team days, and more recently Victor has produced some paintings which bring to life some of our major discoveries at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Neil said ‘I was always amazed by Victor’s ability to produce lovely reconstruction paintings from my vague and often incoherent attempts to explain what we were digging up – and when we had to speculate Victor had an uncanny habit of being proved right. He could also produce in a couple of hours paintings that would take many artists days or weeks’.

Neil attended the exhibition launch along with a number of other former Time Team colleagues. The exhibition runs until 2 July.



Highlight 25

February 16th, 2015

 New Visions of the Roman Countryside (2012)

Over the last 5 years CA has been collaborating with the Department of Archaeology at the University of Reading and the Archaeology Data Service at the University of York on a major national project examining regional and chronological variation in Roman rural settlement through analysis of farm layouts, domestic architecture, agricultural practice, artefacts and burial traditions. This will allow us to produce a new characterisation of the Romano-British countryside.

The project places special emphasis on the ways in which commercial archaeological work in advance of development, and in particular that only reported in grey literature, changes our picture of the countryside of Roman Britain. Grey literature comprises reports on developer-funded archaeological investigations which do not get published in conventional journals or books. Ours is the first project to systematically engage with this considerable yet still largely untapped evidence. As a consequence we will be able to produce a radically new vision of the Romano-British countryside.


Roman building under excavation. Hinkley Point

Roman villa from Hinkley Point

Roman villa from Hinkley Point

This is our first national project and it has been described as a ‘soar away success’ by English Heritage, joint project funders with the Leverhulme Trust. The partnership between a professional archaeological organisation and university-based academics has been both innovative and mutually invigorating, and it is a collaboration which we hope to build on in the future.

For further information on the project click here.




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Neil Holbrook shortlisted for Archaeologist of the Year in Current Archaeology awards

December 2nd, 2014

neil holbrook sept 2014-cropped

Cotswold Archaeology is delighted to announce that Chief Executive Neil Holbrook has been shortlisted for the Current Archaeology Archaeologist of the Year Award 2015. The winner will be announced at the Current Archaeology Live conference on 27 February 2015, where Neil will be speaking about our work at Hinkley Point.

On hearing the news, Neil  told us ‘I am honoured to be short listed for the award which recognises what everyone at Cotswold Archaeology has achieved over the last 25 years. My personal career has been intimately linked with the development of the company over the last two decades and I am immensely proud to lead such a fine team of professionals who routinely deliver some of the best archaeology in Britain, week in, week out’.

Details on how to vote in this and all the other categories of these prestigious awards can be found here


Cotswold Archaeology: Celebrating 25 Years

March 17th, 2014

25 years is a long time in archaeology! Much has changed since 1989 and Cotswold Archaeology has been in the vanguard of developments and done much to set the pace.

The creation of Cotswold Archaeological Trust out of Cirencester Excavation Committee was a bold move, but it provided the platform upon which to build a commercially focused body able to perpetuate the best traditions of high-quality research.

It was also very timely. On a European scale the introduction of Environmental Impact Assessment was just beginning to make its mark on the development industry, and in 1990 the same principles underpinned new government guidance on archaeology and planning in England.

Timothy Darvill marking the 50th anniversary of the formation of Cirencester Excavation Committee in 2008

From a handful of staff based in the former railway station building in central Cirencester, Cotswold Archaeology has grown to a multi-disciplinary team of more than 110 now spread through three offices in Cirencester, Milton Keynes, and Andover.

Our project portfolio has expanded from small-scale excavations and evaluations to participation in some of the largest archaeological programmes in Europe, such as major highway and railway schemes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset.

Our first vehicle – the distinctive Alter Umm 4×4


Our range of interests and skills has steadily grown to include, among other things, marine archaeology, historic buildings analysis, and landscape archaeology. Our geographical focus has also  spread from Cirencester and the Cotswolds to include all parts of the UK and collaborations with partner organizations in other European countries.

Throughout, the greatest achievement of CA, and what motivates everyone in the company, is bringing new understandings of the past to ever wider audiences keen to find out what lies beneath their feet and how such things can help shape and enrich all of our futures. To this end I am delighted that we have now launched our free on-line library of grey literature fieldwork reports.

Timothy Darvill OBE

Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Timothy Darvill OBE

Meet the Andover Fieldwork Team Leaders

July 17th, 2013

Spearheaded by Richard Greatorex, the new Andover Fieldwork team is dedicated to bringing the very best in efficiency and expertise:

Chris ElisChris Ellis – Senior Project Officer
Chris is one of the most experienced site directors in the country having spent the last 20 years focussing on projects in south and east England. These include leading the team on the A120 Stansted to Braintree and the A46 road schemes; major prehistoric sites in Kent and Cambridgeshire; numerous projects on Salisbury Plain for Defence Estates; and also projects in London, Newbury, Southampton and Salisbury to name but a few.

Chris brings with him not only a huge breadth of experience and knowledge but also an enthusiasm and commitment to consistent high quality delivery.

Matt Nichol – Project Officer
Matt has acquired a wealth of multi-period, field experience since 1999 encompassing archaeological evaluation, excavation, survey and assessment work in both urban and rural environments, including spells on international projects such as in Macedonia. Matt has acted as a Senior Archaeologist supervising watching briefs, controlled stripping, trial trenching, test-pitting and large scale open area excavation with large teams of archaeologists. His expertise also encompasses archaeological report writing and publication, as well as forensic archaeology. He has many years’ experience of working in the counties of Hampshire and Wiltshire.

Charlotte Haines – Site Supervisor
Charlotte has over seven years experience of commercial archaeological work in Britain. For the last three years she has been directing a variety of excavations, including large scale infrastructure projects such as Hinkley Point, Somerset. In addition she has directed and reported on a wide variety of evaluations and excavations.

Contact the Andover Fieldwork Team:

If you have a project that we could help with, please contact Richard Greatorex on 07703 684031, or email

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