The Craigieburn Byre is an intriguing structure that has been an academic and physical challenge to interpret and restore. The scale of the stone armouring and stock race combined with the nature and layout of the internal building provide a tantalising insight into the nature of early farming practices in Dunedin. A recent visit to the site by Prof Norman Hammond and his wife Jean Wilson, was a rare opportunity for discussion about the nature of the site and the construction of the byre building. Prof Hammond is Emeritus professor of Archaeology at Boston University and was in Dunedin this week to give a national lecture series on the ancient American Mayan civilisation. It was a fantastic opportunity for the restoration team to have someone of his skill and knowledge share our excitement for Colonial New Zealand archaeology at Craigieburn.
While Prof Hammond was at Craigieburn there was also time to look at the restoration work on the stone wall. With the recent weather work has been slow due to saturated ground conditions. However, with the arrival of some warmer, drier conditions stone mason Stuart Griffith has been able to complete the repairs to the southern end of the wall. Work is expected to be completed in stabilising the wall over the next two weeks.
The first thing you think of when you see deliberate acts of vandalism is why? Why would you bother exerting such energy? What rage boils inside some of our citizens that the destruction of newly planted trees provides pleasure? The degree of violence in the destruction of the trees on Portsmouth Drive reminds us all, that Dunedin is not immune from the minority of mean-spirited people who revel in such senselessness. While our city faces economic uncertainty the monetary loss caused by wanton acts of vandalism like at Portsmouth Drive is profound. Furthermore, the morale sapping nature of vandalism on Council staff and our community is immeasurable and ultimately soul-destroying. What is certain is that we must not let these criminals succeed in ruining our streetscapes, our public parks and our open spaces for their own perverted and moronic satisfaction. Dunedin people must act to protect and value their landscape by reporting these types of offences to the police and council authorities. The City Council too, must be prepared to extract the full cost of these acts from the perpetrators, through prosecution and compensation. As a community we must stand up to this type of behaviour. The Society offers its sympathy to the Council and the community and hopes that this type of mindlessness can be stamped out for the benefit of our city.
The first stages of the restoration and stabilisation of the historic dry stone wall at Craigieburn was started yesterday. Several large trees that were growing through the wall and were disturbing its stability were carefully removed so that work can be undertaken to stabilise and strengthen the wall. The wall was part of the original subsistence farm settled in the early 1860’s by William and Elizabeth Rankin and was built on the original Wakari Road boundary. The wall has two quite distinct building styles which suggests that it was built in stages as labour and resources became available. Some of the foundation stones in the wall are enormous and the manual effort of moving such monsters with hand tools, bullocks and sleds must have been back-breaking work. Much of the stone for the wall would have come from the adjacent paddock as it was cleared in preparation for future ploughing and cropping, though there is some evidence of locally quarried stone from the property also. Grant Webber from John Clearwater Contracting was asked again to utilise his skills and remove the trees using a mechanical digger after they had been cut back by the Taskforce Green team. The end-point of the wall was also carefully dismantled so that the base stone which had collapsed over time could be reset and stabilised. Stone mason Stuart Griffith will begin work on the wall over the coming weeks to reset loose stones and ensure that the structural integrity of the wall is maintained. Project Manager Paul Pope and local archaeologist Jill Hamel supervised the tree removal which is the third and final stage of the historical restoration at Craigieburn. While there is still some clean up work to be completed from the tree removal the site is beginning to take shape as an exciting part of Dunedin’s colonial heritage.