Excavations of a 19th-century military hall reveal numerous finds

The historic Artillery Drill Hall in Fremantle, West Australia, became the site of archaeological excavations aimed at revealing the structure’s history. The building dates to 1895 and was extended during World War II.

Inside the Drill Hall (by Emma Wynne)

Restoration works in the hall involved removal of floorboards and re-stumping of foundations. Archaeologists are investigating the underfloor history of the site, going back to the convict era. The building served until 2014 as the well-known Fly By Night Musicians Club, a much-loved live music venue.

Outside the Drill Hall (by Emma Wynne)

The artefacts found at the site date from 1850 to the present. They include a range of jewellery and things that people obviously dropped, such as guitar strings and there are heaps of Emu Export beer cans. Although the place was the first venue in Australia to become smoke-free, archaeologists uncovered a multitude of cigarette packets and hundreds of matches dating from when the hall was used by the military. A number of 19th century clay pipe was also discovered.

Pack of cigarettes (by Emma Wynne)
Beer can (by Emma Wynne)

Another category of numerous finds are sequins, said to have been found almost everywhere under the floorboards. They possibly date back to the period when the place was used for dances in the 1950s, with ladies in sequined outfits. According to the experts the building was built in the convict era garden that provided food to the inmates of the prison and the warders living nearby. Soil analysis and reconstruction of the garden’s flora is scheduled.

Clay pipe (by Emma Wynne)

(after ABC & Emma Wynne)

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