Public archaeology a hit at Port Arthur

March 1, 2011

The public archaeology Program during January gave many of the Port Arthur Historic Site’s visitors a chance to see an archaeological excavation first hand.

This year’s focus was the excavation of the sawpits and tannery site on the Port Arthur oval. Despite the loss of four days to rain, 282 people participated in the Kids Dig Port Arthur activity, while over 300 attended the Ask an Archaeologist sessions.

In all over 2000 questions and enquiries from visitors were answered. The excavations and public activities were very ably assisted by eight volunteers from La Trobe, Flinders and Simon Fraser universities.

The work on the sawpits and tannery site represents the conclusion of a research programme that started in 2001. Valuable information regarding the construction and layout of the sawpits area has been recorded and will form an important component of the final report now being prepared for Heritage Tasmania.

The excavation trenches will stay open until approximately 15 March, and a staff and public presentation is planned.

Volunteers Rebecca Mirams and Shaun Adams help with the excavation at Port Arthur's sawpits and tannery site this summer

Volunteers Rebecca Mirams and Shaun Adams help with the excavation at Port Arthur’s sawpits and tannery site this summer

Kiah Swinsburg of Deloraine gets his hands dirty in the public archaeology program at Port Arthur during January

Kiah Swinsburg of Deloraine gets his hands dirty in the public archaeology program at Port Arthur during January

Finn Churchill looks on intently at the 'findings' from a dig

Finn Churchill looks on intently at the ‘findings’ from a dig