The majority of the artefacts recovered from the 2008 Mitcham Police Station excavation were architectural in nature and represented 50.2% of the total collection. These included various types of nails and tacks. Domestic artefacts comprised 23.4% of the total collection and consisted of animal bone, string and rope, glass shards, numerous matches, a matchbox, newspaper fragments and three glass bottles. Tools/equipment represented 10.7% of the collection and consisted of a wood plane, staples, and washers. Personal artefacts made up 5.7% of the collection and consisted of numerous buttons of various size, shape and colour, bobby pins, a hat/shawl pin and a pair of men’s boots. Miscellaneous items represented 4.5% of the total artefacts collected and consisted of a hinged ring (possibly a curtain ring), scrap metal, a foil bottle top, and wood off-cuts. Unidentified objects represented 3.8% of the collection. These were artefacts which did not appear to fit into any of the set categories. Three coins, representing 0.7% of the collection were placed into the societal/religious category. The recreation and organic categories each comprised 0.5% of the total collection. The recreation category comprised of only two items, a chip from a blue marble and a possible gaming disk or token. Two locks of hair constituted the organic category, one brown and one blonde.
From the artefacts and their distribution throughout the site we can begin to understand the occupation of the Mitcham Police Station. Yet, limited access to underfloor areas for excavation purposes made it difficult to gain a complete understanding of life within the Police Station.
Evidence suggests the presence of women and children within the dwelling. Although there is nothing to indicate the status or class of the occupants, or compare this with the treatment of inmates held in the cells.
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.
Hello there, this is Marie from Dr Alice Gorman’s Directed Study in Cultural Heritage Management class. I wanted to pass on some information about the South Australian Museum storage facility located at Netly. This warehouse is absolutely a goldmine for anyone interested in Australian Indigenous Culture, as it is full of artefacts from all over Australia, including Bathurst and Melville Islands. Artefacts include bark paintings, ornaments, Indigenous medicines, boomerangs, spears, stone tools, baskets and shields, to name but a few. Volunteers help keep the database up to date and everything tidy. Dr Keryn Walshe is full of enthusiasm for those wishing to access this facility to further their studies.
I have spent some time at the Netly storage facility looking into spear throwers, comparing those classed as children’s to those defined as adults. Is it child’s play or are they miniature? Comparisons will be made between the two groups in order to answer this question, utilising the Museum’s current database, recording measurements and general observations. The process has been quite rewarding and I look forward to updating you at a later date as to what I have discovered.
Hello, my name is Hayley and I’m currently undertaking the Directed Studies in Archaeology topic with Alice Gorman. My project involves analysing the material excavated from the Old Mitcham Police Station on Princes Road, Mitcham, South Australia. Directed by Heather Burke, the excavations were done as part of National Archaeology Week in May 2008 by students and staff of Flinders University. As part of the conditions of the excavation permit, issued by the Department for Environment and Heritage in South Australia, a report is to be made of all excavation results including an artefact analysis and a database consistent with Heritage Victoria’s guidelines. Other outcomes of this project will include an analysis and interpretation of the collection, and recommendations for the preservation and long-term storage of significant artefacts.
Initial impressions of the assemblage were not particularly favourable, but after some time spent bagging and labelling I discovered some of the artefacts appear to be quite interesting and may be used to reveal some of the Police Station’s occupational history. Examples of such artefacts include a pair of old boots, a match box and various types of nails, possibly dating to the building’s construction.
Having been part of the excavation process I am excited to be able to make further contributions to the project. With any luck my analysis of the artefacts will contribute to the story of the Old Mitcham Police Station and in turn the local community.