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  Quarry Punch  

Quarry Punch, Sydney Conservatorium
Quarry Punch made of wrought iron with 8 sides and 4-sided point and remains of flattened top that extends beyond the side of the punch.

Quarry for Sydney Conservatorium
View to south with Royal Botanic Gardens fence in background. This shows part of Quarry 1 with poorer quality stone from which thinner sections of stone were removed. A number of angled sheer faces are visible. In the foreground is a rock platform from which larger stones were cut, these have evidence of vertical drill marks. The quarry punch may have been used to make some of these holes.

Quarry Punch, Sydney Conservatorium
Drawing of the Quarry Punch.
Quarry Punch from the Sydney Conservatorium site

A metal quarry punch was found in Quarry 1 during the 1998 archaeological excavations of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music site, the neo-gothic Government Stables built between 1817-1821. The punch was found in the first few of days of archaeological work in May 1998 in quarry backfill of rubble stone and crushed sandstone.

The few artefacts from this deposit also included broken fragments of early clay roofing tiles, sherds from a blue-transfer-print tea cup and a locally-made lead-glazed earthenware bowl. The quarrying was along the southern side of the Conservatorium site and was most likely associated with the early construction works for the Government Stables c1817. The quarry punch was probably used to face the cut stone.

The quarry punch is considered the most significant artefact recovered from the archaeological excavation at the Conservatorium site. Made of iron with eight sides, it has a pointed end with a partly damaged flattened top. This is a convict-period tool left behind after the quarrying was finished. It was not too damaged to be used so it was presumably lost or left behind by accident.

It is quite likely that the person who lost it was punished. Tools were scarce during the early days of the colony and while less so by the 1820s they were still presumably valued as useful items that were difficult to replace. As it was found on shallow sandstone bedding, close to 1998 ground level, it is also possible that it was stolen by a convict worker and secreted away to be recovered later but due to circumstances it remained in the ground for another 181 or so years.


Sydney Conservatorium of Music Report, pages: 133-136 and 150.

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