2014. What a year!

As another year comes to an end, we present you with a selection of our favourite sites, discoveries and archaeology moments from 2014. It’s been a good year.

We did a lot of digging….


So much mud. Image: H. Williams.


Our biggest site of the year, this excavation yielded over a hundred boxes of artefacts and almost two hundred archaeological features, including the industrial complex being excavated in this photo. Image: H. Williams.


In July, we got to spend a weekend out in Akaroa working on the French Farm homestead, built in the 1840s by French settlers. You can read more about the history of the house and our initial impressions of the archaeology here and here. Image: K. Watson.

Digging, digging, digging. So much digging.

Digging, digging, digging. So much digging. Image: K. Bone.

…and recording.


Drawing and recording a brick floor excavated in Christchurch’s central city. Image: H. Williams.


Kirsa recording the French Farm site, using a theodolite to create a survey plan, while the rest of us drew elevations of the building itself. Image: K. Watson.

One of the elevation drawings of the French Farm building.  Image: L. Tremlett.

One of the elevation drawings of the French Farm building. Image: L. Tremlett.

While recording this Lyttelton house, built in the 1850s, we found this handwritten note fragment on one of the interior wall boards. We're not entirely sure what it says, but it's something about Hokitika. Image: K. Webb.

While recording this Lyttelton house, built in the 1850s, we found this handwritten note fragment on one of the interior wall boards. We’re not entirely sure what it says (something about Hokitika), but it’s pretty fantastic. Image: K. Webb.

We found some cool things…


An industrial complex on Lichfield Street, constructed from 19th century bricks. It’s pretty rare for us to find such substantial floors and foundations from long demolished buildings, so this was a pretty cool find. Image: H. Williams.


The floor and foundations of an 1850s business, found on Cashel Street, another rare find for us. During our research on this site, we found a story about the owner opening a bar on the section, which he named ‘The Blighted Cabbage’ in response to the Mr William ‘Cabbage’ Wilson’s strenuous objections to the very same establishment. An excellent name for a bar. Image: K. Bone.


This epic barrel-lined well was one of the more notable ones we excavated this year. It’s also the deepest, extending down to 3.8 metres below the ground surface. You can just make out the barrel timbers at the base of the feature, where two barrels were stacked on top of each other, with a length of iron pipe extending down through them into the water bearing alluvial gravel strata below. A limestone block was also found at the base, evidently functioning as a filter for the water. Image: H. Williams.


We found this hundred and thirty five year old footprint in concrete foundations (poured in 1879). We worked out that it’s the equivalent of a modern men’s size 9 (American): it probably belonged to one of the workers on the site. Image: L. Tremlett.

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One of the absolute coolest finds of the year, a clay smoking pipe shaped like a skull and complete with bright blue glass eyes. The pipe resembles a style of decoration that was particularly popular in France in the latter half of the 19th century. Image: C. Dickson.


A (very) small selection of some of the exciting things we’ve found this year, including an immense number of shoes and hats, lovely transfer printed ceramics, children’s artefacts, books, bottles and clay pipes. Image: J. Garland.

During analysis of a time capsule that we found last year, we discovered this beautifully preserved

During analysis of a time capsule that we found last year, we discovered this beautifully preserved notice detailing the laying of the very foundation stone in which we found the capsule. It certainly doesn’t look 120 years old! Image: J. Garland.

Definitely the oldest thing we've found this year, this 1825 Georgian shilling was found at an 1850s house site on Cashel Street. Image: J. Garland.

Definitely the oldest thing we’ve found this year, this 1825 Georgian shilling was found at an 1850s business site on Cashel Street. Image: J. Garland.

Some of us also mucked about in boats…


One of our team was lucky enough to complete an archaeological survey of the Lyttelton Port, finding over sixty archaeological sites and getting to spend some time out on the water. Image: M. Carter.

…built the occasional box-fort…


As it happens, the box-fort around my desk functions as an excellent defensive fortress in the nerf-gun wars that frequently take hold of the office. Image: J. Garland.


This is actually more of a box-maze, constructed from all the boxes of artefacts we’ve found and/or analysed this year, but it’s still impressive (and a little terrifying, if you’re the artefact analyst!). It also provides an excellent defensive position from which to leap out and startle people. Image: J. Garland.

… and made friends with some animals.


Chelsea having a conversation with a feline visitor to one of our sites. Honestly, the cat doesn’t look that impressed with whatever it is that she’s saying. Image: J. Hughes.


Cows! Also not looking impressed. Image: K. Bone.


This curious chicken followed Kim around site one day. Image: K. Bone.

All things considered, it’s been a busy year. Frankly, we’re exhausted.

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See? Totally shattered. Image: C. Dickson.

Thank goodness it’s the holidays. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all!

We’ll see you again in February 2015.

The Underground Overground team

  The team at Underground Overground Archaeology Ltd

Raining soda water in Christchurch!

In 1861, the city of Christchurch would have been virtually unrecognisable to a 21st century resident. Buildings were scattered sparsely throughout what is now the central business district and dirt roads and low fences traversed a landscape that was more grassland than city. Twenty, or even ten, years later, that landscape would change so much as to be unrecognisable, with substantial buildings filling the empty paddocks and replacing many of the early, more ramshackle, wooden structures of the 1850s and 1860s. During these ‘frontier’ years of Christchurch’s existence, a number of small businesses sprang up around the place, some of which didn’t last much past the settlement’s transition from frontier to something more permanent. One such business was the soda water manufactory of Thomas ‘Gingerpop’ Raine, an early Christchurch entrepreneur whose soda bottles we often find on archaeological sites throughout the city.

Thomas Raine's premises on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace in the 1860s. Image: Andersen 1949, p. 305.

Thomas Raine’s premises on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace in the 1860s. Image: Andersen 1949: 305.

Thomas Raine arrived in Christchurch in the 1850s and promptly set himself up in business as a manufacturer of soda water, ginger beer and lemonade. His first business appears to have been on the corner of Peterborough and Gloucester streets where, drawing on his prior experience as a soda water manufacturer in England, he operated from 1859 until 1860 in partnership with Walter Gee (Lyttelton Times 17/10/1860: 7). One interesting advertisement in the newspaper notes that the duo used the Samson Barnett Soda Water Engine, an apparatus invented by engineer Samson Barnett (otherwise known for his development of diving equipment; Lyttelton Times 15/09/1860: 8). The partnership ended with some animosity (or at least, that’s what the papers suggest; Lyttelton Times 7/10/1860: 7, 5/03/1862: 6, Press 8/03/1862: 8).

1862 drawing of the Samson Barnett Soda Water Engine.

1862 drawing of the Samson Barnett Soda Water Engine. Image: International Exhibition of 1862: 3.

After continuing on his own, Thomas Raine handed the business down to his son, Thomas Raine Jr., in 1866 (Lyttelton Times 9/01/1866: 1). Things deteriorated rather rapidly after this, as Raine Jr. appears to have been a terrible businessman, eventually declaring himself bankrupt (for which he was later confined to prison and tried in court) in 1869 (Press 26/10/1869: 3Star 11/01/1870: 2). Thomas Raine Jr. seems to have had quite the troubled life, actually: his father took his business partner to court in 1872, he himself was taken to court by his wife for being a ‘habitual’ drunkard in 1874 and he eventually died after drinking almost an entire bottle of ‘spirits of wine’ (equivalent to two bottles of whisky) in 1886 (Star 20/08/1874: 2Timaru Herald 5/03/1872: 2, 5/06/1886: 3).

We find Thomas Raine soda water bottles relatively frequently on sites in Christchurch, usually embossed with “T. RAINE, SODA WATER MANUFACTURER, CHRISTCHURCH NZ.” This mark is found exclusively on ‘torpedo’ shaped bottles, due to the early date of Raine’s business: other, more elaborate, forms of soda water bottle (such as the Codd patent) weren’t invented until the early – mid 1870s, after Raine went out of business. As such, they can be quite useful dating tools for us, depending on the context in which they were found (i.e. discrete undisturbed deposits vs rubbish scatters): as you’d expect, they’re often found on sites in association with households or businesses dating to the 1860s and 1870s.

Thomas Raine embossed torpedo bottle found on a residential site on Armagh Street this year. Image: J. Garland.

Thomas Raine embossed torpedo bottle found on a residential site on Armagh Street this year. Image: J. Garland.

So far, we’ve found T. Raine bottles all over the city, from residential sites to hotels to commercial sites. There doesn’t appear to be any discrimination in the types of households or businesses buying Raine’s products: we’ve found them on the sites of affluent households and in association with less obviously wealthy assemblages. They would have originally contained a variety of soda waters: Raine was known for manufacturing gingerade, lemonade and ‘raspberryade’, the first of which likely led to his ‘Gingerpop’ nickname (Lyttelton Times 3/09/1859: 8).  Interestingly, one account of Raine’s business suggests that he “did not confine himself to beverages of his own manufacture”, which implies – true or not, I have no idea – that he passed other people’s soda off as his own (alternatively, he may simply have contracted others to brew for him; Andersen 1949: 305).

Advertisemet for Thomas Raine's soda water business. Image:

Advertisemet for Thomas Raine’s soda water business. Image: Lyttelton Times 3/09/1859: 8.

Thomas Raine’s story is also of interest to those of you curious about the way Christchurch evolved over the early decades, from a spatial and nomenclature perspective (this has been a recurring theme here on the blog recently). He was a resident of New Brighton for much of the 1860s and 1870s and owned large amounts of the land out there, including the land on which QEII park is now built (Christchurch City Libraries Blog 2011). During those early decades, it seems, the suburb was somewhat sparsely settled and – like Oxford Terrace – would have been unrecognisable to the modern Christchurch resident. The area was split into two ‘neighbourhoods’, named Oramstown (after George Oram, proprietor of the Clarendon Hotel) and Rainestown, after the Raine family (Christchurch City Libraries Blog 2011,Star 8/05/1896:2). There are several advertisements in the local newspaper during the 1870s, in which Thomas Raine offers large sections of land for sale (Press 28/02/1874:1). It wasn’t until after these sections were sold and more people began to settle out there, that the area began to take on the shape of the New Brighton that we recognise today.

Thomas Raine died in 1907, surviving his wife by two months. He is buried in the Barbadoes Street cemetery, where he shares his rest with many of Christchurch’s other early residents and entrepreneurs. And, although ‘Rainestown’ has long since faded from our collective memory, the legacy of ‘Gingerpop’ Raine lives on in the torpedo bottles we now find in the ground all over the city.

 “ You’ve a Taylor for a brewer!
For that he’s none the worse;
And if you want a vehicle
You go unto a Nurse!
You’ve a Fisher for a grocer
Residing in this quarter!
And strange as it may seem, from Raine
We get good soda water.”
– R. Thatcher, cited in Andersen 1949: 308

Jessie Garland


Andersen, J. C., 1949. Old Christchurch in Picture and Story. Simpson and Williams Ltd., Christchurch.

Christchurch City Libraries Blog, 2011. [online] Available at www.cclblog.wordpress.com

Lyttelton Times. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Press. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Star. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

Timaru Herald. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz