Field Work, Port Arthur Field Trip

Port Arthur – Day Six – Back in the Port Arthur Archaeology Laboratory

Today we all went back to the labs to do much of the same work we have been doing during the past week here at Port Arthur, and the only major difference noted by all was the chilly weather that slowly crept up on us throughout the duration of the day; luckily there was no real rain!

Lauren, Leah and I (Bradley) worked in the trench for the first time with Annita and David. We familiarised ourselves with the purpose of the trench, which is to allow a fire suppression pipe to be installed. We were also shown the different deposits found in the trench and what contexts they are in. We started by doing a section drawing of the first feature of the trench, which had descending layers of soil, clay, bricks, a thin layer of charcoal, and a hard brick layer. David and I then did a Dumpy level survey, and he explained to me what it is, how it works and how to perform the survey.

After our rather long lunch break, in which a man named Charlie and his wife came to visit Annita, Andrew and the others and tell us some amusing stories, Lauren and Leah began photographing and doing section drawings of feature two, while I helped Annita collect and bag the artefacts found in the trench spoil pit, as well as plotting the lengths of each feature on a scale map of the trench area. Later in the day, David set up a drawing grid over feature three, which contained an interesting drain pipe feature, and I assisted him in drawing a scale version of the feature using the grid and a plumb bob.

At the end of the day Jeanne showed us a collection of different kinds of old glass bottles and jars, and told us all about them, which was interesting. Finally we all took a few group photos in front of the penitentiary building, which allowed a few of us to show our silly sides, and enjoy ourselves a bit before the last day at Port Arthur arrives.

We bade a fond farewell to Lauren who returns to Flinders University for her well deserved graduation ceremony.

Field Work, Port Arthur Field Trip

Port Arthur – Day Three – In the lab

View from the Lab

It was a beautiful day today in Port Arthur and a great start to the lab and field work. At 9am, we all met down at the Policeman’s Cottage and split into groups. Louisa and Tom went with Annita and David to do surveying and some excavation work, Andrew and Bradley started with photography, and the rest of us started sorting through artefacts and eventually cleaned all the artefacts that were recovered from the Penitentiary Chapel.

Sorting Artefacts from the 2011 Penitentiary Chapel Excavations in Hobart

For those of our group that are new to the archaeology scene, today was a very important introduction to the world of archaeology and they are all learning so much. It was a great experience to look at all the artefacts that have been recovered and begin to understand what was going on with the convicts at the Penitentiary Chapel.

Artefact Photography
Site Survey with Louisa and Tom
Field Work, Port Arthur Field Trip

Port Arthur – Day One & Two – Touring Port Arthur and Lab Inductions

A talk on the Radcliffe collection

Day 1 – Yesterday was all about travelling, shopping and settling in. The quaint wooden dwelling of Roseview cottage commands an awesome view of the Port Arthur site.

First Morning: Tour of the Port Arthur World Heritage Site

Day 2 – Begins with a casual tour of Port Arthur. 40 minutes of convict and post-convict history sets the scene for the week ahead. The team had half an hour of personal exploration before embarking on the harbour cruise; passing the shipyard before skimming past Point Puer and circling the Isle of the Dead. The obligatory safety induction was held in the PAHSMA office. Following this there was a visit to the archaeology and historical reference collection. This visit provides a clear appreciation of the problems associated with the storage and analysis of archaeological finds. The Radcliffe curiosity collection holds intriguing artefacts, and a number of bricks stolen from Port Arthur and returned at some point.
Then down to the laboratory. Jean led us through the lab procedure and plan for the following days. Cleaning, sorting, photography and data entry await. Works behind the asylum and pauper’s mess have uncovered artefacts, and threaten some convict period infrastructure. A team rotation will survey this, and the penitentiary building which is currently the subject of an important preservation focus.

On a tour of the grounds at Port Arthur
On a Tour of the Harbour and the Isle of the Dead