150 year old homestead unearthed by Notre Dame Students

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 12-7-2007

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle

Publication Place



A team of Archaeology students from The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle and The University of Western Australia have discovered a homestead in the State’s South West believed to be almost 150 years old.

Led by Notre Dame lecturer, Dr Shane Burke, the students spent three days at the Southampton Homestead on the Blackwood River, south of Balingup.

They conducted a historic and archaeological investigation on what is thought to be the original home of Richard Jones – one of the settlers to the Balingup region.

The Southampton Homestead was built in 1862 by Jones and his two sons and was named after the English port where the family departed for Australia. The house comprises nine rooms and is of hand-made fired brick, from clay quarried on site, and hand-sawn timber.

Within just three days the team made some vital discoveries. They found the site of the original wattle and daub house on the property built in 1859, while other archaeological evidence suggested that it had actually burnt down at a later date: an event not recorded in any existing historical records.

Melted glass fragments, charred pottery and a mould of the timber floorboards baked by the fire’s heat into the clay soil beneath was conclusive evidence. In addition, students interviewed local residents about the homestead’s remarkable history.

It was also established there were seven original buildings on the property, including archaeological evidence suggesting that some sites contained more than one structure over time.

‘The excavation was a great event and provided valuable field work experience for Notre Dame’s small but vibrant student group interested in Western Australia’s archaeology’ said Dr Burke.

Plans are being made to visit the site again in September to continue the research, including work on a nearby flourmill site.

“During this visit, we hope to identify more about structure location and construction detail , as well as continuing the gathering of data allowing a glimpse into life of people who lived at the site during the last 148 years,” said Dr Burke.