Excavating the new Royal Adelaide Hospital

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Archaeology exposed at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital development site.

When the groundwork was being done for the new Royal Adelaide Hospital in Adelaide, Senior Research Scientist in Archaeology Dr Keryn Walshe was on call in case the builders stumbled across any skeletal finds.

Keryn was asked to go onsite to identify a piece of bone (it was from a sheep) and noticed pottery, glass and other items. She sought permission to formally collect them, and the process began.

Over the period of eight months in 2011–2012 Keryn found a number of items that might otherwise have been buried for another century. The next step was to identify how that assemblage came to be there.

“It’s a very large assemblage, and we don’t have a lot of archaeological material from the early settlement years of Adelaide,” says Keryn. Since settlement the site has been used as a sheep yards, a refuse area and rail yards.  The archaeology reflects all of this, particularly the refuse era, giving a window on life in Adelaide during the 1880s. 

Research is still being conducted on the items by Keryn’s determined team of volunteers and students.