It’s begun! Today the first sod of earth was turned. Well, a man in a machine scraped away the first bit of dry topsoil – but you get the picture. 

First day

After the first day we’ve taken off about a third of the topsoil from across the excavation area

Over the years since the site was given up as a penal station in 1877, there has been a lot of activity that has impacted upon the integrity of the convict-period structures and deposits. Salvage, bushfire, new buildings and services have all resulted in new layers and the removal of old ones. This means that we often have quite a bit of digging through layers of accumulated topsoil and demolition debris before we even see our first well-preserved deposits and structures. As such, we use an excavator to slowly remove the upper layer of topsoil to expose the first layers of demolition overburden. This process, excitingly called ‘stripping’, is always monitored by an archaeologist who keenly watches for the emergence of significant layers – at which time they will move the machine on to the next bit. 

We’ll be ‘stripping’ for the next few days, after which we’ll be getting down to hoes and trowels. Stay tuned.