Geophysical Research on 19th Century Historic Australia
In Australia, there have been very few studies that have examined the associated material culture of: 1) the histories of asylums and the treatment of mental illness; and 2) the establishment of traditional social identity in early European settlements. Willow Court in New Norfolk, Tasmanian is Australia’s oldest and continuously occupied asylum operating from mid 1830s-2000. With over 170 years of use, the landscape has meant that a number of buildings have been constructed, and subsequently torn down and built over. While available maps of Willow Court document major foundations of buildings, we have little idea on where smaller building may have existed. The general whereabouts of these structures are known but due to poor surveying these too can be problematic to detect. Baker’s Flat, a historic Irish site near Kapunda, South Australia was one of the first Irish settlements in the region with occupation from 1854-1920s. Believed to have been established as a traditional Irish clachan, an informal clustering of farm dwellings and outbuildings, the site was home to early Irish immigrants who worked in the nearby copper mines at Kapunda. The site was demolished in the 1960s and little recordation of the dwellings and settlement exist today, albeit a map created in the 1890s. Therefore, knowledge on whether the Baker’s Flat site was built like traditional Irish clachans is unknown. A geophysical program was initiated in 2016 to assess the presence of any subsurface remains at Willow Court and Baker’s Flat. With previous demolitions at both sites, our understanding of any intact deposits still existed was limited. Interestingly our results revealed the remains of several mid-19th century buildings at Willow Court. Other findings include smaller structures of the nearby Frescati House and possible privies. At Baker’s Flat, our results indicate that the site was built in the style of a traditional Irish clachan, and that this one continued to thrive despite clachans dying out in Ireland.
About the Presenter
Dr Kelsey M. Lowe has over 15 years experience in archaeology and specialises in archaeological geophysics and remote sensing, geoarchaeology and ArcGIS. Her formal qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Minnesota State University Moorhead, a Master of Arts in Anthropology from University of Mississippi and a doctorate in Archaeology from the University of Queensland (UQ). Dr Lowe has worked in the United States, South America, Australia, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and Myanmar, and recently finished a postdoctoral position with the Institute of Mediterranean Studies, Foundation of Research and Technology, Hellas (IMS-FORTH) in Crete. Her work at IMS-FORTH involved the management and preservation of archaeological sites through the use of advanced geospatial data and innovative research designs. Currently she is an Honorary Research Fellow at UQ and will begin a postdoctoral position mid-2016 at the University of Southern Queensland utilising geophysical applications on frontier conflict sites in Queensland.