News and Media

9 months ago in Media release , Major projects
(8/2/2018) Freo archaeological dig provides a glimpse into 19th century life

An archaeological dig in Fremantle’s historic Kings Square has provided a glimpse into what Fremantle's street life was like in the 1800s.

Originally planned as a one week project from 15-21 January, the dig was extended and finished up last week after some unexpected finds, including that the original St John’s church which was demolished in 1882 was larger than historical plans indicated.

There was also a major discovery outside the main entrance of the soon-to-be-demolished City of Fremantle administration building, with shop foundations and artefacts unearthed from a blacksmith/farrier business from the late 1800s.

Other finds included the remains of a 1900s corner newsagent and the 1890 Temperance Hall which fronted High Street.

Artefacts dating back as far as the early 1800s included clay pipes, ceramics, black glass, a Snider rifle bullet, horseshoes and 19th century tools.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the dig was successful but not without its challenges for the team of archaeologists.

“There were some great discoveries made, including the intact foundations and a range of intact artefacts of the blacksmith/farrier business which was located on William Street from 1890-1914," Mayor Pettitt said.

“We also had a mystery on our hands at one stage, with the old St John’s church foundations not matching historical plans. This proved challenging but the corners of the church were finally uncovered, which I’m told came as a great relief to the archaeology team.

“I’d like to congratulate Archae-aus on a job well done under what were at times difficult conditions caused by rain, heat and historical records that were not as accurate as expected.”

Archae-aus, a cultural heritage management consultancy based in North Fremantle, was appointed by the City of Fremantle to undertake the investigations as part of the broader redevelopment of Kings Square.

Archae-aus Executive Archaeologist Fiona Hook said the next phase of work involved analysing and cataloguing the results.

“The team are now sorting, cleaning and cataloguing the artefacts from the excavations. This will take a month or so after which we’ll be providing a final report back to the City of Fremantle.”

The City hopes to be able to showcase the findings as it upgrades public spaces as part of the once-in-a-generation Kings Square renewal project.