Recently you may have seen some digging going on at the old Cadbury carpark, on the corner of Castle St and Bow Ln. This involved the excavation of concrete slabs to level a large area in preparation for contractor vehicles and equipment that will be involved in the demolition of the former Cadbury factory site.
The carpark had previously been registered as an archaeological site, so the excavation work was monitored by members of New Zealand Heritage Properties and archaeological consultants.
Considering the work was just removing concrete slabs, and that digging was relatively shallow, the number of archaeological features uncovered was quite a surprise.
Brick paving and foundation features were found around the site, as well as a paved drainage trench. Jutting out from one of the foundation features was an exposed bluestone paving pathway. This building and feature are thought to date back to the 19th century.
However, the largest collection of items was found underneath the wooden foundations of this structure. A number of glass bottles and ceramic artefacts were found, with some clearly identifiable by their labels. These included a stoneware bottle from Derby, England, and a container of Holloways ointment. Similar Holloways ceramic containers date back to the 1860s. This ointment was marketed as a “cure of gout and rheumatism.”
A second, smaller deposit of items was found on the northern section of the carpark. They included an entire boot, and a smoking pipe bowl.
Hayden Cawte of Underground Overground Archaeology, who oversaw the excavation, said he was particularly 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.”
All artefacts were recorded on-site then discarded off-site due to the risk of asbestos and diesel contamination. This was part of the excavation health and safety procedures.