Archaeology, despite our best efforts, does not seem to take any notice of the seasons and therefore, as field archaeologists we are required to be out in all weathers all year round. Sometimes we are sweltering in the dust of a quarry site in August, other times we find ourselves wading through calf-deep clay mud in soggy Somerset in February.

Battling with the elements as we do, having good warm and waterproof clothing is essential and is provided by Wessex. Recently Wessex has been trialling a new range of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), one that is specifically designed for female staff as, many of us realise, there is no such thing as ‘unisex sizes’.

Historically there have been a number of issues for female staff regarding the clothing we use on sites; trousers, too narrow in the hip or two long in the leg; jackets that fit width-ways but come down to your knees. Besides making some of us look like we have borrowed some clothes from an older sibling, ill-fitting PPE also impedes movement and reduces its effectiveness, so we look ridiculous and get damp anyway.

No more! After six months of assessing the effectiveness of the new PPE Wessex will now be offering it as an alternative to the unisex brand it currently uses. Staff who trialled the PPE have said that it affords a greater range of movement without compromising on size and that the fit is far more comfortable. In some cases, there was little difference noticed between the unisex and the female specific PPE but, as we are all different shapes and sizes this is to be expected.

Hopefully more companies, not only working in heritage but in other sectors too, will recognise this need for a wider range of PPE sizes and fits and make them available to their staff in the near future.

And by now I know you will be desperate to know who it is!

By Phoebe Olsen, Archaeologist

Source: Wessex Archaeology