Taylor’s Farm (Pioneer Farm Settlement Site in Coromandel Ranges, NZ)

I’m an amateur archaeologist, mainly surveying and recording sites around the Hauraki-Coromandel area in the North Island of NZ. The area is a rich source of prehistoric and historic Maori sites, plus pioneer European gold mining, timber milling and farming sites. I’m currently searching for a pioneer farm block that was allocated in 1880, subjected to bush clearance, and farmed for some 20-30 years, until it was finally abandoned. The block of interest is the 240 acres allocated to Richard Taylor in the Karaka Valley, about 10 km inland from Thames. Historical evidence indicates he engaged in dairy farming, and transported his produce down to Thames, by packhorse.

We now have an old survey map of the boundaries of Taylor’s Farm, and some historical info on where the homestead was. The area is now covered in dense re-growth bush and is particularly difficult to traverse, away from the few main foot tracks in the area.

On Day of Archaeology (29th June) we searched for Taylor’s homestead site, plus other farm features (e.g. fences). We have found a dwelling site, with remains of machinery consistent with a dairy farm (remains of a cream separator). However, this was slightly outside the recorded boundaries of Taylor’s block, so we’re not 100% sure if it was Taylor’s dwelling or not. If not, it’s still a significant site; being in the area known as Punga Flat, a mining settlement established in 1868.

Best wishes to my NZAA colleagues, who are at the annual conference in Oamaru. Unfortunately, I wont be able to join them this year.


A Day in the Life of an Investigator for the RCAHMW – Part II

Today I’ve had several different pieces of work to do, which makes it an average day for me.

After my morning cup of tea, I set about checking my work e-mails. The project I work for, the Atlanterra Project, are in the process of submitting the next financial claims for the work that has been done since January 2011. As part of this I have make sure I have all the relevant paperwork ready to upload, and this morning my in-tray contained some of the papers I needed, as well several e-mail attachments of previous project business meetings. Whilst it might not sound very glamorous and archaeology like, the project management element of work like this is very important, if perhaps not the most exciting part of the day. I do enjoy it though, as it helps me plan ahead for the next year of the project and work out how, when, why, where and what I’ll spend the project money on.

The Atlanterra Project is a European funded project with ten project partners from five countries (Wales, France, Spain, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland) working together to preserve and promote post-medieval mining heritage.

Among the work being carried out are projects on the creation of geological gardens; reconstruction and preservation of mining machinery; surveying and archaeologically recording mining complexes and collectively working on how best to provide public access to the information collected and diseminated during the life of the project. My own particular role within the project is to provide expert advice and guidance to the other project partners on ‘Physical and Digital Data Capture, Storage and Tender Specification’. Basically, if you want a site surveying, have you actually considered why it need to be done and what you will do with the data (which could be CAD drawings, CGI animations, or someone with a tape measure, ruler and piece of paper) once you have asked someone to collect it for you?

As part of my work on the Atlanterra Project, I carry out fieldwork surveying and recording mining heritage sites which are at risk. Two of the sites I have been out to survey as part of this work are Maenofferen Slate Mine, near Blaenau Ffestiniog:

and Mynydd Nodol Manganese Mine, near Bala:

After that, I worked on a talk I am giving at the National Eisteddfod next Tuesday. The National Eisteddfod moves around Wales each year, and this year is being hosted in my home town, Wrexham. With that in mind the RCAHMW Education Officer asked me if I could prepare something for a general audience. I decided to prepare something on one of the RCAHMW projects which is being prepared for publication – in some for or another – in the long term. That project is the The Workers’ Houses of Wales Project. You can find details of four of our National Projects here:

and details of my talk at the Eisteddfod here:

Because my first language is Welsh, I’ve also been asked by CADW: Welsh Historic Monuments if I will guide a walking tour of the village of Cefn Mawr, near Wrexham, to explain its character and history. Details of my walk can be found here: