East End Markets and the Rookery – Adelaide’s answer to Casselden Place and the Rocks

Blog Post 1: Clare Leevers

My directed study project is focused on the excavated material from the local East End Market/Rookery dig on East Terrace in the Adelaide CBD. Located just south of the East End Markets building, the Rookery consisted of a mix of commercial, industrial and residential premises focused around Peacock’s Tannery (circa 1842) and a row of cottages built in 1857/58. The cottages consisted of a single room of 6m x 3m with a hearth and a shingled roof. The areas immediately surrounding the cottages contained associated amenities, such as a water storage tank and cesspits. With a population that included women and children, they represent a unique snapshot of the domestic life of the poorer working class in early Adelaide. They were demolished at the turn of the 20th century.

The site was excavated three times, twice by Austral Archaeology in 1990 and 1992, and once by Backtracks Heritage Consultants Pty Ltd in 1994. The 1990 excavation was an exploratory introduction to the site, whilst the 1992 excavation was intended to exhaust the archaeological potential of the site. Due to time and financial constraints this was not completed, so Backtracks Heritage Consultants were later employed to complete the project.

The aim of my Directed Study is to determine how the boxes of material found in the Adelaide Gaol relate to the documented excavations (numbering/cataloguing for each and whether or not they correspond to the reports), and an analysis of what material is missing in relation to the collection as a whole.

I was granted access to the Rookery material after obtaining permission from both DENR and Justin McCarthy (Austral Archaeology), and not knowing what to expect was greeted with the sight of a small cell filled with ubiquitous brown boxes … and thus the work began.

In Adelaide Gaol, Yard 4, Cell 5 “The Bear Cage”. East End Markets and Rookery material laid on top of old maritime advertising boards.

2 responses to “East End Markets and the Rookery – Adelaide’s answer to Casselden Place and the Rocks

  1. Hi Clare
    I was at the 1992 Excavation and worked sorting and recording the artifacts if l can help please contact me. The Rookery material was stored at Netley by Heritage SA for many years, it used to be in the attic space. Susan Piddock

    • Hi Susan,
      Thanks so much for commenting, sorry it took me so long to reply.
      We’ve recovered what appears to be the majority of the excavated material from the 1992 excavation in the Gaol, but there’s nothing from 1990/1994. It appears that ~150 boxes were stored at the Gaol, but only 75 remain, and there’s no record of any of it being stored or moved. Where about is the attic space at Netley?! I never realised that there was such a place, and would be VERY interested to hear more about it.