An archaeological dig in Kings Meadows has revealed a range of artefacts, along with the remnants of a convict road and probation station dating back to the 1830s.
Included in the artefacts is possibly a previously unseen style of convict hat.
The discovery of the site was initially made by Southern Archaeology and local historian and surveyor John Dent earlier in the year.
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery history curator Jon Addison said a felt hat found preserved by moisture for almost 200 years under an old roadway and believed to belong to a convict, was a particularly exciting find “unlike any other hat” in their extensive convict clothing collection.
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Mr Dent approached the City of Launceston Council earlier this year with a proposal for a small exploratory dig to recover artefacts of interest before an approved redeveloped of the site for residential housing took place.
The council agreed to provide up to $10,000 in funding for a group of volunteers, led by archaeologist Darren Watton of Southern Archaeology, to undertake the search.
Since then, the group have been working with the landowner and council to conduct a further examination of the site which focused on selected areas within the building and the associated commandant’s cottage.
Southern Archaeology owner Darren Watton said while very little remains of the original structure, they had uncovered substantial evidence of the station’s existence and managed to salvage different parts of what remained including bricks, ceramics and bottle pieces.
Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten congratulated all involved in the discovery that would further the knowledge Launceston’s convict era.
Cr van Zetten added that existing planning approvals for the site would not be affected by the discovery.
“The Council looks forward to the delivery of this residential subdivision development to cater for Launceston's population growth,” he said.
Also found on site were remnants of the oven, a brick reservoir, a stable/milking shed – which include some old horse shoes – and ceramic that predated 1840.
“One of the more notable discoveries has been a felt hat, which we have sent to the museum to be curated,” Mr Watton added.
“A report on the excavation will be provided to council and the landowner.”
Constructed in 1837 the Kings Meadow Convict Station housed more than 150 convicts, as well as officials and military personnel, but abandoned in the early 1840s before being sold to a private landowner in 1854.
The structure – about 40 by 40 metres – was built to assist with the unsuccessful Evandale to Launceston Water Scheme, along with the construction of the Midlands Highway.
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