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the guard house (yay!) and the old gaol (double yay!)

we found the guard house!

we found the guard house!

and the 1927 gaol!

and the 1927 gaol!


Another day, another trench!

Guard House Site 1 Bron 2


On this cold wet and windy day team 3 (aka The Village People) set up our trench in preparation for excavation. At this new site we will be excavating the guard house which was built at a similar time to the Commissariat (store house) next to it (1820s). The guard house was meant as a sentry point for the men protecting the store house and the stores within it from attack. As the town of Oatlands was newly proclaimed at this time, the store house was a vital piece to the control of the area, with sources of food and other items in short supply stored here.

In our excavations the Village People hope to uncover a section of the guard house extending from just before the front wall through the main room, one of the cells and out into the courtyard at the back. As this is an excavation to understand what is left of the site from its demolition in the 1970s, we will not be entering into in tact deposits of artefacts. Rather we will be aiming to uncover the walls of the building and understand their state and potential to contribute information both to the field of archaeology and the history of the town of Oatlands.


The Great Tasmanian Tractor Drive

This weekend the Great Tasmanian Tractor drive will be stopping in Oatlands. in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Oatlands they will be holding a BBQ at the Callington Mill in order to Raise funds for fire affected farmers. The public is welcome, so please join us on Sunday the 3rd from 6pm to help raise money for the farmer worst affected by the January fires.

Extreme Gardening!

130130_T1_0092After digging up half the guard house garden yesterday the mechanical excavator returned this morning for some more “extreme gardening”! The trench was dug in the front yard parallel to Chelsea and Angie’s 1×1 meter trenchs and spans approximately 10 meters. The excavator uncovered some promising material in what appears to be worked stone and could possibly represent the stone wall foundations of the 1827 Gaol……. YAY!! Excavations are also taking place beside the Guard house in the hope that some more stone foundations will be uncovered! After a slow start with little success and a lot of crack pot theories we have finally come across some promising material so stay tuned………….

mechanical archaeology

Yesterday we got a mechanical excavator in to hugely extend the trenches where we are looking for the Old Gaol. Once we know how far down the artefact bearing layers are, an excavator can safely remove the top soil. This kind of machinery can dig in a few minutes what it would take a team of archaeologists all day to do, so if we’re sure that the remains are far enough down that they won’t be damaged we can speed up the work considerably. These are some photos of the trench we dug yesterday.

Filling teas, empty trenches and happy snaps

Digging through the day is always fun, particularly when you have morning and afternoon tea breaks scattered around lunch. There’s always new stories from the other trenches about this find, and that joke. Sometimes all you need is tea and a chocolate Girl Guide biscuit next to someone who understands your off kilter ‘dirt’ jokes. It makes the day seem so short, and you gain the energy you need to go off and find that lovely artefact or fun find. Or nothing.

Sometimes you don’t find a thing. Sometimes it is just another empty hole and a pile of earth to shovel back again.

However as some of the others keep saying to me, if you find nothing in one hole, there is the knowledge that there is always another place to go adventuring in your search for that elusive find. Just keep trowelling. Have your tea breaks with your friends and tell them about how cold the rain is, or warm and lovely the sun. Then head back and remember the feeling of excitement when you find that whole bottle, or entire cup, or house foundations. And get through the empty trenches.

And make sure to take a lot of happy snaps.





News from Johnny Come Lately

After joining the group a tad late I had a lot of catching up to do. I have a raging hangover so I guess that was a good start. Immediately I was impressed with the sheer scale of history that exists in Oatlands. Coming from the mainland, I can’t really think of another place quite like it in Australia. I’m extremely jealous of the place & I’m planning on relocating the entire town to Canberra sandstone by sandstone when I become Emperor….no don’t worry its safe….Cheers to everyone for taking in another refugee along the way and putting up with my many many stupid questions thus far…looking forward to doing some productive work here in the O.L!!