Archaeologists find items from 1800s at old Dunedin chocolate factory

2:29 pm on 27 October 2019

By John Gibb for the Otago Daily Times

Surprising archeological finds have been made during shallow excavation work at the old Cadbury factory site in Dunedin.

Cadbury Chocolate factory

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Digging at the old chocolate factory car park, on the corner of Castle St and Bow Lane, led to interesting items being found near and beneath the foundations.

Among the finds: one sizeable boot, believed to be from the 19th century, as well as ceramic and glassware items, and a bluestone pathway.

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This old boot was made for walking, but not, in those days, towards a chocolate factory. Photo: Supplied

The excavation was required in order to remove concrete slabs to prepare to accommodate contractor vehicles and equipment to be used in later demolishing the nearby former Cadbury site.

This work will, in turn, make way for the planned new Dunedin Hospital.

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Bluestone paving emerges from the archaeological site. Photo: Supplied

Most of the items found were under wooden foundations.

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An old container found at the site. Photo: Supplied

The boot and a smoking pipe's bowl were found among a second, smaller deposit of items at the car park's northern section.

The excavated area was previously registered as an archaeological site, and the digging has been monitored by Underground Overground Archaeology, a firm of archaeological and heritage consultants, headquartered in Dunedin.

Archaeologist Hayden Cawte, who oversaw the excavation for the firm, was surprised by the level of preservation of the artefacts and brickwork.

"With the foundations, you don't often see that level of structural detail, and the ceramic artefacts were in great condition," Dr Cawte said.

"It gives more insights into how areas were occupied and how they were used in the 19th century."

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An old smoking pipe bowl found at the north of the Cadbury car park site. Photo: Supplied

The former car park had been an industrial area, which was home to coal sheds and a soap works in the 19th century.

And the various bluestone and brick-paved areas and a paved drainage trench showed the way efforts had then been made to improve a reclaimed harbour area that was initially boggy.

Several glass bottles and ceramic artefacts were found, including a stoneware bottle from Derby, England, and a container of Holloway's ointment, once marketed as a "cure of gout and rheumatism".

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A Holloway's ointment container, which could be from the 1860s. Photo: Supplied

Similar Holloway's ceramic containers date back to the 1860s.

The amount of material found was significant, given the relatively shallow excavation.

"It hints at the opportunities that are going to arise with the work that's going to be undertaken on the main hospital site," Dr Cawte added.

- This story first appeared in the Otago Daily Times

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