Since March 2020 the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority (PAHSMA), in collaboration with Richard Tuffin, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of New England, have been undertaking an excavation of the Port Arthur workshops complex. Situated on the original waterfront since 1830, these workshops housed the trades-focussed activities undertaken at the penal station. Over 47 years of occupation, an evolving suite of buildings housed shoemakers, blacksmiths, tailors, turners and wheelwrights, the prisoners applying skills they brought with them or learnt whilst under sentence.
Despite the usual Covid-related hiccups – including the downsizing of our hand-picked crew of professional archaeologists – we are still investigating. Sylvana Szydzik, PAHSMA, and Richard continue to plug away at the site. The targets and scope of the work have had to be refined, though the research aims of finding out more about the processes and products of coerced labour remain the same.
If you are interested in learning about the excavation and want to follow our progress, visit the site blog at: https://blog.une.edu.au/port-arthur-2020/