Excavations - Archaeology - Fremantle Prison, Western Australia

Excavation Zone and area (re Bavin, 1990) Findings

Archaeological Excavations in the Prison Compound, Centre for Prehistory, UWA, Louise Bavin, 1990


Outer Knoll Zone A (I)

Female Division Yards Zone C (V)

Eastern Lawn Zone A (VII)

Front of MCB Zone B (X)

Outer Knoll: near complete cistern found, partially filled in with limestone and brick rubble.

Female Division Yards: remains of toilet block, brick rubble

Eastern Lawn: foundations of bath house and flush, building foundations, well may be present, but not investigated due to concrete over it.

Front of MCB (Main Cell Block): no artefacts.

Archaeological Excavations in Hampton Road Reserve and Henderson St Cottages, Jack McIlroy, 1990


Hair comb, glass fragments, buttons, clay pipe stem, ceramic fragments.


Excavations in Fremantle Jail, P. Bindon and J.P. Raynal, Anthropology Department Western Australian Museum, 1993

MCB 4DIV , Zone A (VIII)

A cistern, ramp, lightening  rod, axe heads, broken brick, broken roof slates, roofing nails, glass bottle fragments, burnt shells (most likely to make lime mortar), ceramic fragments, bone fragments and part of the Tunnels complex.

Report of Archaeological Investigations Associated with the Fremantle Prison Cell Reconstruction Project, Gaye Nayton, 1998

Cell A20, A21, D38, B37 of MCB, Zone B (XI)

Data on how Cell A20A was set out i.e. location of toilet bucket, air vent and hammock. Toothbrush (expensive at time so prison either providing high standard of hygiene or gentleman prisoners in cell). Reading and writing materials (when adult illiteracy was high). Glass fragments (either condoned or not preventable to dine in cell).

Report and Catalogue of Artefacts Fremantle Prison Tunnels by Eureka Archaeological Research and Consulting, UWA 2005

Inventory of items from Zone A and B (XII and IV)

Axe heads, metal fragments, bags of dirt, glass fragments, whole glass bottles, bones, metal objects, ceramic fragments.

Visitors Centre, Café Development Archaeological Test Excavations, Eureka Archaeological Research and Consulting, 2009

Café and Visitors Centre Zone C (no area code)


Former courtyard: limestone rubble, other deposits and an “organic unit” (remanets of a timber structure), lead pipes.

Former store: used bullets, presumably from when area was used as rifle range in 1980s, rubble, nails, timber that disintegrated when touched, bone, blue metal, limestone, window glass, metal slag, bottle glass, wall plaster.

Kitchen: modern building materials (nails, wood, concrete, plaster, brick), bone fragments, charcoal, plastic button, ceramic fragments, metal fragments.

Fremantle Prison Parade Ground Archaeological Test Excavation Results (Stage 3) Eureka Archaeological Research and Consulting, 2009

Zone A (X and I)

Area 1 and 3 (SW area of Prison, Parade Ground), search for Wooden Division: no distinct findings to confirm location of Wooden Division, but it was a movable structure. Did find early 20th century materials, most likely from a rubbish dump, including slate pencils, glass, ceramic, metal buttons, bone, a tooth, leather, glass light bulbs.

Area 2 (Parade Ground), search for Well: well not detected in area feasible to excavate, crushed limestone layer found, possibly a path. Found recent artefacts: structural material, timber, modern wiring, bone, slate and nails and older artefacts: slate, old iron nails and crushed limestone.

Area 2 (Parade Ground), search for Metalled Road: compacted limestone layer most likely the original limestone road surface. Also identified a 19th century rubbish pit, found butchered animal bone, metal heels, buckles, eyelets, crockery, glass bottle, charcoal.



Plate from excavations in Hampton Road Reserve and
Henderson St Cottages, 1990.

'Pick Me Up" bottle from excavations in Parade Ground, 2009.

Side of medicine bottle from excavations in Parade Ground, 2009. Top of medicine bottle from excavations in Parade Ground, 2009.