Michael Heaton

Regional Qualification(s):

Southern England


Phone Number(s):


Contact guide


If you are looking for a guide with in-depth knowledge of the archaeology, architecture and history of the Wessex region, I am your man: I am a semi-retired professional archaeologist and architectural historian with c. 40 years' experience of excavation and survey within Wiltshire, Dorset and neighbouring counties that I would like to share with you. You can find the published academic reports of some of the more interesting sites and finds via my professional website - http://www.michaelheaton.co.uk.

But there is more to life than work (I hope): I am a keen angler, with a love of chalkstream fly-fishing; a competent blues guitarist and a fledgling drummer. Watermeadows fascinate me, as does the history of the mid 17th century - when everything in Britain changed.

Personal Interests:

Catholic architecture
Blues music

Special Interests:


I have c. 40 years practical experience of landscape survey, excavation and academic publication of archaeological sites within Wiltshire, Dorset and Hampshire. I have excavated at Stonehenge and Avebury, as well as in most of the towns - such as Salisbury, Dorchester and Winchester .


I have a passing familiarity with the agricultural landscape and economy of Wessex, mainly as a consequence of working with landowners for c. 40 years.


I have an MPhil in Architectural History and Theory from the University of Bath and I am a Trustee of the Construction History Society and a member of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain. . My research dissertation - 'Spolia Britannica' was on the use of salvaged materials and architectural details in 16th - 18th century southern England. Most of my professional work has involved research and survey of historical buildings throughout Wessex.

Churches & Cathedrals

I am a member of the Society for Church Archaeology and the Ecclesiological Society, as well as a committee member of the Historic Churches Commission for the Catholic dioceses of south central England. I have have spent c. 40 years visiting the chapels, churches and cathedrals of the region and am familiar with the principle architectural styles and how they were constructed.


A detailed understanding of landscape and how it was created is an essential prerequisite of a competent archaeologist, one that I would love to share with you. Though 'from' the north of England, I moved to Wessex in the early 1980s to work, but also because I love the chalkland landscape and particularly its rivers.

Geography & Geology

See above 'Countryside'. The landscape of Wessex is the consequence of c. 6,000 years of human action on a geological base of - predominantly - chalk bedrock, but with older sedimentary rocks along the southern and northern fringes and Tertiary sands and gravels across the east. Understanding that is crucial to understanding why Wessex looks like it does.

History & Prehistory

Working for c. 40 years as a professional archaeologist and architectural historian ( I help clients secure Planning Permission and/or Listed Building Consent for works affecting archaeological remains or historical buildings) in Wessex has give me a thorough understanding of the region's history and prehistory - one that continues to fascinate me. I am particularly interested in the immediate post-Reformation and mid 17th C years, when everything changed.

Industrial Heritage

Wessex isn't thought of as an 'industrial' area, but prior to the advent of the internal combustion engine every town and many villages were self-sufficient. The material remains of that industrial heritage are evident in many settlements and even in some fields in the middle of nowhere. I am particularly interested in the malting industry, but have had to research quarries, brickworks, ironworks and hundreds of farms.


I live on the edge of Salisbury Plain - Britain's principal military training area - and have conducted archaeological investigations of military installations of 17th - 20th C date across the region.


Driver Guide: