Aussie icons series
When we moved to our land three years ago we set about cleaning up ‘the garden’. It’s 2 and a bit acres, so it’s still very much a work in progress.
Twenty year old trees needed to be thinned, some dead, most crowded. The place had been vacant for a few months so the grass was knee high and the veggie garden overgrown with weeds and blackberries. We are still uncovering and discovering some delightful finds after three years.
But the MOST exciting, the most dumb-struck-speechless-blink-eyes discovery was this:
I was removing the bricks that lined the old veggie beds and stacking them in a pile when I noticed that some I picked up looked very old and worn, handmade, with lumps and bumps.
I’m no expert but I recognised their age straight away. And when I had a closer look I found the magic frog mark of Australian royalty … the convict broad arrow mark.
Convict broad arrow mark?
Convict bricks are marked in a number of ways but the most well-known is the broad arrow imprint – the same shape that was printed on convict uniforms.
When I say ‘convict’ in Australia we mean from 1788 to the 1850s, the (mostly) British and Irish criminals transported to the penal colonies down under.
Australian convicts made bricks either as part of government work gangs or when assigned as servants to a land owner. It was forced labour as part of their penal sentence.
Given that I’m a little bit of a history buff, finding these bricks in my veggie patch made my eyes mist over!
Our house is a modern one but we do have some history on our place – the fence alone is ancient! And I’ve dug up bits of older metal and crockery here and there.
But the convict period represents the first 70 years of European settlement in Australia. I know that’s not very old by European standards but it would be the equivalent of finding the foundations of a Roman villa? … Rare, anyway!
So this pile of just a few bricks – some convict bricks, also other colonial? or Victorian and Federation bricks? – is quite a find in my Aussie books!
I don’t think the bricks are original to the site? They may have been brought in as a lot of second-hand bricks to make the veggie beds. But where did they come from?
Looks like I need to do some more ‘digging’! ♦
If anyone knows anything about the other brick types I would love to hear your thoughts.___________________________
Convicts, Aussie icons series
– To mark Australia Day on January 26, my posts this week have featured Aussie cultural icons.