Portobello Kids at Craigieburn

Portobello school at the Byre

The Society hosted the year 5&6 classes from Portobello School at Craigieburn today. The group walked through Ross Creek and up to Craigieburn as part of their school camp. While they were there they cleared part of the stone floor from the old barn/roadway on the main track. During their excavations nothing of any significance was found, but there was enough anticipation to keep everyone busy. Thankfully the weather cleared for Portobello School to enjoy their lunch at the byre site before making the trek through Ross Creek.


Guided Walk at Craigieburn

Project2The first week of spring is a great time to shrug of the winter blues and get back into the outdoors again. The Society is undertaking a guiding tour of Craigieburn on Sunday 11th September starting at 10.30. There will be an opportunity to look at some of the artifacts from the archaeological work undertaken on the site and learn more about the use of the area as a Scottish subsistence farm. The walk through the mature rimu forest to see some of the 700 year old giants is one of the highlights. The walk is relatively easy and suitable for people of all ages. So come on along and embrace your pioneer spirit at Craigieburn.

How to Get There

The Craigieburn Byre Completion

The Craigieburn ByreThe 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.

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Craigieburn Heritage Preservation – Phase One Completed

The preservation work on the small ruin adjacent to the public track to Ross Creek is now finished with the completion of the stone work and stabilisation of the structure. There is a noticeable increase in the “robustness” of the ruin now and it should now remain as an important heritage feature for a further 150 years. When one looks at the stone and clay work undertaken in the repair, there is a glimpse into the way the building would have looked when it was built.  There are some minor archaeological investigations still to be completed on the eastern side of the structure, and the laying of some gravel to dry out the walking surface for visitors, but the ruin itself is now in its preserved state.  To give some idea of the detail of the restoration, the numbered stones shown in the picture have been placed back into their original context. Another feature of the stonework are the building stones that have clearly been used by the settlers  for sharpening knives or other tools.  

The preservation of Dunedin’s colonial heritage is extremely important for the future of our city and the Society should feel justifiably proud of this first step at Craigieburn. However, like all projects there is still much to do and project manager Paul Pope will now focus on the stone wall and cow byre in the central paddock with archaeologist Dr Jill Hamel and stonemason Stuart Griffiths.  These two structures create quite different challenges in their preservation but will offer equally rewarding results and will provide even further insight into the colonial life of some of Dunedin’s early Scottish settlers.

Completed ruin