Final Thoughts on Oaklands

Blog Post 4-Directed Study

Photograph of Oaklands Estate circa 1884 courtesy of David Jarman

Photograph of Oaklands Estate circa 1884 courtesy of David Jarman

This is my final blog post about my Directed Study into the former Oaklands Estate at Oaklands Park, SA. Through the weeks of delving into newspaper records, hurriedly trying to schedule a bit of field work, and meeting with a number of people in the Marion area who have been immensely helpful with providing information about the property, I have learnt much about the history of the estate and its people, and yet I still feel that I have barely scratched the surface.

As the historian David Jarman has shown, research of this sort can take a lifetime to compile, the question that I found hardest to answer was how much of this information to present as part of my report. In particular, I found myself in possession of a multitude of photographs—so many that it would have been impossible to include them all in such a short report. I did, however, find a use for a number of these photos, and that was in the assessment of archaeological potential.

The photographs were used to locate landmarks that were present in historical photos and that still exist at the site, such as trees and roadways. These landmarks were then plotted using GPS points and used to estimate the location of the original estate building and yards. From here it could be determined that there were at least two sites that could yield high archaeological potential: the original homestead (located at least in part beneath the car-park) and the stables (located on the open grassed areas).

While I have submitted my report and tried to include as much as possible in it, there are still many little stories and rumours pulled from newspaper articles and interviews that did not make it into the final report. I think that James Deetz had it right in his famous book ‘In Small Things Forgotten’: the difficulty with historical archaeology isn’t necessarily how much information you may find, but how to interpret that information into a work that is a true representation of the lives associated with a site.

References

Deetz, J. 1977 In Small Things Forgotten. Doubleday: New York.

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