asha
Old Owen Springs, Heritage Branch, NT Government Excavations at Old Owen Springs, July 2013. Read more here.

WELCOME TO ASHA

AUSTRALASIAN SOCIETY FOR HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY

The Australian Society for Historical Archaeology (ASHA) was founded in 1970 to promote the study of historical archaeology in Australia. In 1991 the Society was expanded to include New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region generally, and its name was changed to the Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology.

JOIN ASHA

ASHA membership is open to all! Members get a copy of the journal, discounts and more.

•  SEE MORE

MEMBER’S LOUNGE

Access members-only resources and update your details.

•  LOGIN HERE

PUBLICATIONS

Explore our diverse range of publications spanning the past 45 years.

•  VIEW PUBLICATIONS

CONFERENCES

Find out about our next conference, or browse the abstracts from previous years.

•  SEE EVENTS

 

Queen Street umbrella components picture 1 
Queen Street umbrella components picture 2
Author: Bronwyn Woff

Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants

A group of umbrella/parasol fragments were recovered from the site of 1-5 Queen Street, Melbourne (H7822-1871) during excavations undertaken by Extent Heritage in 2018.

The site’s European history (Clark et al. 2019) starts in 1837, beginning with Pitman’s Store (a small building from which Frederick Pittman, a key trader of early Melbourne, ran a store) and a residence set back from the street. This was followed by a candle and soap works factory (Rae, Dickson & Co), which occupied the site from the 1840s to 1872. This factory then demolished, and a new building housing a range of shipping-related businesses was constructed in 1872. In 1911, the building was purchased by the Mercantile Mutual Insurance Company and was used as their Victorian headquarters until the 1950s. In 1955, the building was purchased by Fletcher Jones & Co for a retail store and was used for this purpose until 2011 (Clark et al, 2019).

The artefact collection was catalogued by Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants, and included a total of 6674 artefact fragments. Of particular interest were a group of artefacts excavated from what was interpreted by the excavators as a filtering tank, possibly for lye leeching, which is part of the candle making process. The artefacts recovered from the tank represent a one-off fill event, which most likely occurred at the time of the closing and abandonment of the candle and soap factory and before the new structures were constructed in 1872. The artefacts were probably deposited in the late 1860s or early 1870s, as none of the artefact manufacturing start dates are later than 1870 (Woff, Williamson & Biagi, 2019).

Queen Street umbrella components picture 3

Photo 1: Umbrella/parasol fragments from 1-5 Queen Street, Melbourne (Image supplied: Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants)

The tank context contained an interesting group of artefacts, which included nine fragments of composite umbrella/parasol stretchers (representing eight complete umbrella/parasol stretchers, enough for one complete umbrella/parasol) and three fragments of organic/wooden umbrella ribs, which were round in profile. The context also contained a large quantity (n=278) of textile fragments, which have at least three different weave styles, some of which may be associated with the umbrella/parasol (Woff, Williamson & Biagi, 2019).  

Parts of an umbrella

Photo 2: Parts of an umbrella (Image from: https://www.goinginstyle.com/blogs/news/parts-of-an-umbrella )

Umbrellas are multi-part objects, and a simple umbrella/parasol can include up to 112 different parts (Hooper 2016: 30-31). These parts can be made from a range of materials including, but not limited to: wood, textiles, metals, baleen and ivory (Hooper 2016: 1). Our fragments are comprised of a range of materials. The stretchers are composite, made from iron alloy, copper alloy and a wood-like organic material. The ribs are made from the same wood-like organic material, which may be cane or a similar material. Hooper suggests that baleen “was the primary material used for ribs until 1852” when steel ribs were invented that were much lighter and stronger (2016: 8), however, both materials were shaped to be flat or rectangular in section (Hooper 2016: 8), whereas our fragments are round. The textiles recovered from this context were not obviously related to an umbrella or parasol by style or construction, but some may be associated with the umbrella fragments recovered.

fashion plate

Photo 3: Fashion plate showing umbrella (Image from: https://vintagedancer.com/victorian/lace-victorian-parasol-and-umbrellas-for-sale/ )

The terms umbrella and parasol were used interchangeably in 19th century advertising (Hooper 2016: 24 – 30). These items were seen as “primarily public objects, used to shield their bearers from the elements encountered when venturing outside. These objects function in images as fashionable and practical tools, mediating the relationship between individuals and their rural or urban surroundings” (Hooper 2016: 166). Although the reason for the discard of this object is unknown, this group of artefacts links to ideas of fashion and domestic life, and provides a glimpse in to the fashions of early urban Melbourne in the 1860s.

References:

Clark, C, Douglas, P, Petkov, B & Rubio Perez, R 2019. 1–5 Queen Street, Melbourne (H7822-1871) Historical Archaeological Excavation Report HV #4930. Prepared by Extent Heritage for Hutchinson Builders.

Hooper, R 2016. Out of the shade: uncovering the manufacture and use of umbrellas and parasols, 1830 -1840. Masters Thesis submitted for the University of Delaware.

Woff, B, Williamson, C & Biagi, C 2019, Artefact Report 1 – 5 Queen Street, Melbourne (H7822-1871). Prepared for Extent Heritage

Going in Style 2017, Parts of an umbrella, image, Going In Style, viewed 12 Februaru 2020 < https://www.goinginstyle.com/blogs/news/parts-of-an-umbrella >

Buck, A, 1961, Fashion plate showing umbrella, image, Vintage Dancer, viewd 13 February 2020 < https://vintagedancer.com/victorian/lace-victorian-parasol-and-umbrellas-for-sale/ >

 

Compiled by Jane Rooke

NSW Heritage Library Online

For those who are not aware the Heritage Library of NSW now has thousands of items available on line. These include conservation management plans, archaeological reports, heritage studies, thematic studies and histories.

Follow the link below, go to advanced search and enjoy.

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/Heritage/research/library.htm

Don’t forget to come up for air every now and then.

 
Compiled by Charlotte Feakins

Below is the last bursary recipients report on the 2019 conference. Thanks to all the recipients for submitting their thoughts on the conference. I think we are all looking forward to the 2020 conference in Melbourne!

This year’s ASHA conference at Port Macquarie showcased a range of fascinating projects from researchers, students and heritage professionals. I particularly enjoyed the opening presentation by keynote speaker Richard Shing who provided a thought-provoking account of colonial heritage in Vanuatu. This was followed by the lively ASHA Speed Trials—an informative and amusing start to the conference.

Over the two days, sessions were themed into settler-indigenous relations, war and fences, convicts, people and place, colonial artefacts, new approaches and heritage management with most sessions hosting around four papers. For me, the broad variety of projects and approaches among, and within, sessions highlighted the scope of historical archaeology—its unique capacity to illuminate the past through multiple lines of evidence, from the micro to the macro level.

In conclusion, the ASHA conference was a fantastic experience. The people were friendly and supportive and the papers and posters were engaging. I would like to thank ASHA for awarding me with a bursary to attend, I’m already looking forward to ASHA 2020.