Archaeological Excavation of the Port Arthur Workshops

Monday - Wednesday

The archaeological excavation of the Port Arthur workshops has started once again. This project will run weekly Monday – Wednesday, from October 2020 until May 2021.

A collaborative project between the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority and the University of New England, this project is investigating the convict-period workshops, integral to the operation of the Port Arthur penal station.

Archaeological Excavation of the port Arthur Workshops stage one

Excavation area showing Stage 1 (green), Stage 2 (blue) & Stage 3 (red) over March 2020 orthophoto

The excavation program has been reconfigured to a three-stage approach (image above). Stage 1 (green squares) will investigate the layout of the workshops area as well as the underlying natural geology and has been placed to address questions about the location of the original waterfront, and the relationship of modifications to the workshops range from 1835 to 1856.

Stage 2 (the blue squares) will target one of the main spaces in the workshops range, formerly used as shoemaker and carpenter shops, and later used as a foundry and blacksmiths. Excavation in this space will address questions about convict labour processes and products at Port Arthur.

Stage 3 (the red squares) will build on information gathered during Stages 1 and 2, to address questions about the forms of the workshops structures, as well as investigate areas utilised for shoemaking and tailoring in the 1830s, and stores, steam engine, bone mill and blacksmith in the 1850s.

Regular progress updates and more information about the project can be found on the excavation blog Profit and Punishment: Archaeological excavation of Port Arthur’s Workshops.