Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Postcards from the Past: Archaeology and Family

In my last blog post on Sunday I mentioned that I had a massive week last week. As it turns out the above postcard represents a synergy of all that massive week contained! Let me explain...

My working week was massive, because I was taking part in another fieldwork session out past Ballarat on an old gold-rush era site (I blogged about it back in July here). It was our very last week of fieldwork last week, and we all felt like we were the stars of 'Time Team', with Tony Robinson in voice over saying something  along the lines of
"with only five days before this site is bull-dozed to make way for a new freeway, the archaeologists are working against the clock to find out what they can of this fascinating microcosm of life on the road to the goldfields in the 1860s..." 
There is a little bit of dramatic-license in there, but you get the drift. We were on a schedule. A road is being built. We worked like maniacs. Tony Robinson may or may not have been there. Here are some happy snaps:

It was a very fun week, and the archaeology was pretty interesting. Will found a coin from 1835, a pocket knife and a jet earring. Rach found an ink well. Ben found a bottle of some magical ointment that was a cure-all for gout, rheumatism and sore breasts! And I found some broken ceramics. Oh, and a sewing pin, when it pricked me in the finger. Dang! But what a fun week we had. Massively exhausting, but great fun.

Then, on Saturday, I turned around and drove back from whence I came, to Ballarat, in order to trawl through my Grandparents possessions, as they have just sold the family home. That was a massive day for all sorts of reasons. It is so sad to see the house go, as it has been in the family for generations. I loved spending all my school holidays there as a kid, playing in the garden with my cousins and sisters. My sister Emily got married in that garden a couple of years ago, and so the house holds all sorts of special memories. Here are some happy snaps of the house and garden "Glenholme":

My Grandma gave me her stamp collection, but I also took another special item of 'post' from the house... Great-Great-Great Aunty Mabel's postcard collection. There will be many more blog posts about Mabel's postcards, because they are so wonderful. She collected her postcards are from such exotic places as Ceylon, Zimbabwe, Norway and Hong Kong. The lady knew how to travel.

But as I was reading through them last night, I was super delighted to find the postcard from much closer to home, which I began this blog post with. This is a postcard Mabel received in 1905 from a party taking a picnic in an old 'Cobb and Co' coach right near the archaeological site I had spent my week digging up. So past and present, archaeology and memory, work and family life all meld together in the image on the front of the postcard, and the message scrawled to Mrs Cuthbert of Glenholme on the back. How absolutely lovely, and how absolutely thrilled I am.


  1. Helen, what an exciting and also bittersweet week it sounds like you had. I can't wait to see what beautiful postcards you now have and the stories that go along with them. Lots of love xx

  2. Thankyou for bringing our history into the present Helen. It is indeed, 'bittersweet'. I look forward to more installments from the past in the future.
    Love always,
    mum. xxx

  3. I can't wait read more about the postcards from Aunty Mabel. It sounds as though your family keep everything.

    1. Ha ha!! It's true, Sandra! I am from a long line of hoarders! We keep everything!!


Hello internet friends! I love to read your comments - so thanks for sharing ♥