Directed Studies: Mitcham Police Station Artefact Analysis #2

Since my last post I have been very hard at work in the Archaeology Labs at Flinders. I have been cataloguing all of the material from the Old Mitcham Police Station as well as doing some reading on the construction of the building.

The police station was purposely planned and built by Farr and Co Contractors, and opened in 1892. The original four roomed building was constructed to very precise specifications and used local materials; including ‘freestone’ from Mitcham and ‘sandstocks’ from a kiln at Marion. Later two more rooms were added and a back veranda filled in to create the existing bathrooms.

The cataloguing process has been far more time-consuming than I had anticipated, yet extremely rewarding. It involves using a pre-designed database which is based on the Heritage Victoria Guidelines. The database allows for specific information on each and every artefact to be collated and compared. Basic fields include artefact number, location, context, colour, description and various measurements. More complex fields refer to things such as function. ‘Function’ sounds simple enough but requires consulting a predetermined keyword list which describes both main and sub-functions.

The most significant thing I have learnt so far is that every identifiable artefact presents information which adds to the story of the Mitcham Police Station, regardless of what it is, its condition or how dull and boring it may first appear. It is often the so-called ‘dull and boring’ pieces which hold the greatest secrets.

- Hayley

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