Kerry Lodge at Breadalbane unearths archaeological treasures as part of UTAS project

Gun flint used by the United Kingdom military has been found at an archaeological dig at Breadalbane.

The dig is a joint project by the University of Tasmania archaeology and arts faculties in addition to the University of Manchester and the Launceston Historical Society.

The gun flint is among several items already unearthed after the first day of the dig, which will run until Sunday at Kerry Lodge, outside Launceston.

UTAS Lecturer Louise Zarmati, an archaeologist, said in addition to the dig, a kids dig will be held on Thursday for children aged 5-14.

“It’s learning by stealth,” she said.

“Kids are having fun digging in the trench but they don’t know they are learning.”

Dr Zarmati said the dig was a great opportunity to teach children more about Tasmania’s history.

The Kerry Lodge Convict Probation Station was established in 1834, operating until about 1847.

Used as a stone quarry and sandstone-working centre for the construction of the Strathroy Bridge and the old highway to Hobart, it housed about 30 convicts.

The project commenced at the site in 2015 when a small test pit exposed a collapsed structure.

To date, excavations have revealed an overseer’s cottage and a number of artefacts including glass bottle stoppers, fragments of blue and white china, a clay pipe and metal door hinge.

Part of the dig project involves state and interstate artists, who have been joining the archaeologists on site.

Karen Hall, from the UTAS School of Creative Arts, said she had engaged artists to work alongside the dig and respond to it creatively.

The creative responses include sculptures and poetry.

She said there was no restrictions on how they could respond to their experience.

“It helps the archaeologists because it means they see things through the artists eyes and the artists get excited about what they are seeing and finding,” she said.

Kerry Lodge lead archaeologist Eleanor Casella, from the University of Manchester, said one of the most exciting finds was the military-grade gun flint.

She said the flint was only used by the military in the United Kingdom and could be traced back to Devon.

“You don’t find this made in Tasmania,” she said.

Archaeologists are digging out the remains of the kitchen of the overseers cottage on the site.

Launceston Historical Society’s John Dent found the Kerry Lodge site during his work as a surveyor.

The Kerry Lodge dig will be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday.