The search for 1824 settlement
10 – 15 September 2009
Corscadden Park came alive to the sound of shovels and trowels during the First Settlement Festival (10-15 September 2009).
A team of archaeologists were excavating in the park hunting for the remains of the convict-built brick kiln, constructed during the eight month period of settlement in Redcliffe from September 1824 to May 1825. The original Moreton Bay Convict Settlement included 29 convicts, two of whom were brickmakers by trade.
Visitors were able to view the archaeologists at work during the six day excavation. Other activities were available on site during the festival weekend including the mobile trailer dig ‘archaeology of the move’ allowing kids too young for the real dig to have a go at being junior archaeologists.
The wide variety of museums, gallery and cultural institutions across Moreton Bay and the greater Brisbane region were on display as part of a mini-heritage expo on the grounds at Redcliffe Museum.
Why dig in Corscadden Park?
In June 2008 a jointly funded Q150 and MBRC project undertook to investigate a range of potential first settlement sites in Anzac Avenue and Sutton Street. The sites were chosen based on the conjectural map produced by prominent historian John Steele.
The initial investigation used ground penetrating radar and a magnetic gradiometer to pinpoint likely areas for further investigation and excavation. While the Sutton Street sites showed no signs of potential, two sites in Anzac Avenue; a backyard in Anzac Avenue (Commandant’s house) and Corscadden Park (brick kiln) did return positive results that indicated excavation may be successful.
Dr Jon Prangnell, University of Queensland Senior Archaeologist and Director of the Archaeological Services Unit managed the excavation.
This project was funded by the Moreton Bay Regional Council.
What did we find?
The dig was a success!
On Sunday morning, 13 September 2009, (exactly 185 years since first landing) the archaeologists unearthed a piece of worked wood approximately 32cms long. Associated with the wood was a pile of charcoal and stone fused together by high heat. It was obvious that this was the sort of heat associated with a kiln rather than a normal campfire.
No other wood or similar material was found in the layer so the assumption is that this is not the result of a flood event. The layer in which the material was discovered was undisturbed creek bank indicating no association with later activity in the area. It was almost certainly the residue from a kiln and associated with the earliest British colony.
While further tests are required the archaeologists are quietly confident that we have found evidence of the first British settlement in Queensland. Furthermore this is the first archaeological evidence of the 1824 settlement ever found so everything about this is unique.
The next step will be a follow-up dig concentrating on the area around and east of the original find. This dig will not be open to the public but the public will be kept informed and they will be able to view the activity through the fence as with the last dig.
Exactly when the next dig will be is still uncertain.