Farm dig turns up rare finds

Well, well, well … a dig by UWA archaeology students at Peninsula Farm turned up some rare and revealing articacts.

The field dig discovered many unbroken bottles, perhaps tossed in the well in a hessian sack.

These fancy shoes likely belonged to the landowner.

Meticulous digging turned up some rare finds. Photos courtest UWA Archaeology.

RARE old shoes, intact teetotaller bottles, and evidence of long-gone paperbark trees are among artefacts uncovered in an archaeological dig at Peninsula Farm in Maylands.

The Farm’s owner the National Trust hosted archaeology students from UWA for the second year to excavate the grounds, delving into an old well and digging out trenches across the grounds.

The well’s brought up a surprising number of intact bottles from around 1890 to 1920  – rare for being intact rather than smashed, and because there’s no alcohol bottles among them.

The Trust reports this gels with what’s known about the Hardey family who built the farm and lived there until 1913: They were strict Wesleyan Methodists, a denomination that was long opposed to alcohol.

The Trust brought in conservators Ian MacLeod and Rinske Car to draw up a plan to conserve the artifacts. 

Dr MacLeod also identified paperbark among the material dug up, evidence that the trees once grew in the historically swampy area.

The prize find was a pair of extremely rare waterlogged men’s leather shoes. They may have belonged to Richard Hardey or even the farm’s original owner, Joseph Hardey, given their formal style suggests they belonged to the landowner rather than a farm labourer. 

The Trust is now raising funds to conserve the shoes for future display at Peninsula Farm. It will cost about $3,000 to carry out a preservation process involving polyethylene glycol to remove the water and stabilise the leather. 

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