A heritage site found at Prospect Reservoir (NSW) last year during upgrade works has been confirmed as part of the estate of famous Australian explorer William Lawson.

SCA Heritage Officer Kate Lenertz said the site was revealed after the lake was lowered 3.8 metres below full storage level to allow a multi-million upgrade to the dam to take place.

“At the time we were uncertain if the half-acre site – comprising brick footings, wells, fireplaces and scattered artefacts – was built for William Lawson who resided at Veteran Hall just a few hundred metres up the hill,” she said.

“We can now confirm, based on the archaeological report, that it is almost certain that the structure was built for William Lawson after he purchased the land from landholder Fergus Gallagher in 1811.

“There is no certainty what these buildings were, but evidence suggests it may have been a stables or some other multi-roomed structure and included a chimney, three wells and timber fence lines.”

Ms Lenertz said that while the reservoir levels remained low throughout the first half of 2014 SCA heritage experts made two new colonial finds.

“These were considerably smaller sites than the original find,” she said.

“The most substantial is just 700 metres as the crow flies further north and includes a basic fireplace. It is in direct line-of-sight to both the original discovery and Lawson’s Veteran Hall.”

The second site, another kilometre further away is comprised mostly of scattered bricks and some pottery and coins.

“While neither is as substantial as our first find, they contribute more to the picture of colonial settlement prior to flooding of Prospect Reservoir in the 1880s,” Ms Lenertz continued.

“The additional sites were definitely not part of Lawson’s original grant, but were later purchased later by Lawson or his family as the estate grew.

“The artefacts are fascinating: a gun flint, local earthenware pottery including an item by convict potter Thomas Ball who we know stopped producing pieces by 1823, and imported Chinese pottery, clay pipes and glass bottle fragments.”

Prospect Reservoir is currently being refilled as construction works move into the next phase, and the recently discovered artefacts are being submerged again.

“The archaeologists have advised the best conservation technique is to actually leave the artefacts and relics in situ and allow them to be submerged again,” said Ms Lenertz.

“We’ve surveyed and photographed the key elements and because they are within protected Special Areas they are not threatened by public access. They have survived 125 years underwater and been exposed from time to time during major dewatering of the reservoir.”

To allow for the remainder of the upgrade to take place, the Prospect Reservoir grounds will continue to closed to the public until the end of 2014.

Michelle is a freelance journalist and editor who, as well as covering all the latest and breaking industry news, is a gun proofreader and editor who never misses a trick.

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