Archaeology at Fremantle Prison 

Archaeology is the scientific study of the past using the ‘stuff’ left behind by us (humans) 

Archaeology is not just ‘digging in the dirt’, it exists everywhere at Fremantle Prison where former structures once stood to graffiti on walls and caches of material hidden in the floors and roofs. 

The study of this stuff is important as it has the potential to reveal information not recorded in history, complementing, adding to, or even changing our interpretations about the past.  

Over 30 years of archaeological investigation at Fremantle Prison has addressed many questions. Please see the Archaeological  Research’ page for more information. 

Thousands of objects have been retrieved and adopted into the Fremantle Prison Collection that have come from these excavations. 

Managing Archaeology: Fremantle Prison Archaeological Management Plan 

Just prior to Fremantle Prison’s conversion to a tourist site, the Archaeological Zoning Plan of the Prison Compound 1990' was prepared to identify archaeology and its significance, provide a management framework to protect the archaeology, and recommend avenues of research. 

While this original document was useful, it no longer reflects more recent recognition of heritage significance, current trends in archaeological research and philosophy, or the research conducted at Fremantle Prison to date. 

In 2019, Fremantle Prison commissioned Extent Heritage to compile the ‘Fremantle Prison Archaeological Management Plan’ (AMP). 

The AMP provides a management framework, informed by a predictive model, synthesis of research to-date, policies and procedures to assist decision-makers to ensure archaeology on site is managed appropriately.   

A digital ‘Geographic Information System’ version of the AMP is also currently being compiled with the aim of ensuring broader Fremantle Prison archaeological data is available to everyone. 

If you have questions about archaeology on site or are a researcher interested in accessing the site or collections for archaeological research, please get in touch


Fremantle Prison Archaeology Plan (2021) - 15.8MB