Video: Archaeology at Parramatta Light Rail

GML Heritage undertook historical and Aboriginal archaeology on Stage 1 of the Parramatta Light Rail (PLR) route on behalf of Parramatta Connect.

GML Principal and Archaeologist Abi Cryerhall shows us around the excavation site and explains some of the interesting artefacts in this video.


Historical Archaeology

Parramatta played a significant role in the establishment of the New South Wales colony. Historical archaeology helps us understand new meanings and stories about colonialism, contact and the area’s continued growth. GML has undertaken historical archaeological works at Cumberland Health Precinct, Robin Thomas Reserve and Queen’s Wharf Reserve.  The discoveries at Robin Thomas Reserve in particular, help us better understand the life of those at the military barracks that were on-site from 1790s-1810.  

Historical artefacts and in-situ discoveries include:   

  • Remnants of a 1790s cottage and 1790s military barracks. 
  • Remnants of an 1800s mill race and 1825 military barracks.  
  • Convict-built drains.  
  • Handmade tiles and sand stock bricks.  
  • Hand blown glass bottles that held wine, beer or spirits.  
  • A range of pottery types including Chinese exports, locally made pottery and a pipe bowl, and dinner sets from Staffordshire, England. 
  • Bone buttons and lids, probably carved by soldiers. 
  • Early coins 

Learn more about archaeology at the site at a recorded Q&A session with Abi, hosted by Parramatta Connect. 

Aboriginal Archaeology

For around 40,000 years, the area comprising present day Parramatta has been occupied by the Burramattagal people, a clan of the DarugThe Burramattagal’s cultural landscape contains many places which retain deep archaeological sequences that provide evidence for how their cultural technologies changed over this long time period. In the Sydney area, such demonstrated evidence is very rare. The Burramattagal had a complex system of tradition, which during the Holocene (the last 7,000 years), were associated with the tidal river. Archaeological research is slowly allowing Aboriginal people to reconnect with their traditions and the PLR archaeology work is playing a significant part in this process.   

Abi PLR on site

GML Principal and Archaeologist, Abi Cryerhall with her team on site

Convict Brick

Handmade sand stock brick

Bone button

Hand carved bone lid

Archaeologist in cesspit

A team member in one the cesspits found on site