Unearthing Freo's first church

12th December 2017

An archaeological dig planned for Fremantle’s historic Kings Square early next year will shed new light into what life was like in Fremantle during the late 1800s.

The dig, taking place across four zones in Kings Square from 15-21 January 2018, will look for evidence of the 1840s-built predecessor to the current St John’s Church which used to stand in the centre of the square.

The archaeologists expect to unearth the foundations of the first church, which was demolished in 1882, as well as other historical material such as glass bottles, clay pipes; and fragments of ceramic bowls and plates from this period.

The City hopes to be able to showcase the findings as it upgrades public spaces as part of the Kings Square Renewal project, which began earlier this year.

“Kings Square has a lot of stories to tell and we’re really looking forward to seeing what will be uncovered, particularly given an earlier dig in June 1986 identified the foundations of the first church," said Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.

“As well as the church foundations, we hope to find artefacts in public spaces outside the former Myer building which were once the sites of buildings spanning the early-mid 20th century.

“We want to incorporate the findings into the upcoming Kings Square public space upgrades. To do this we’re looking at opportunities to include ground viewing areas to provide visitors to Kings Square with a real window into the past,” Mayor Pettitt said.

Archae-aus, a cultural heritage management consultancy based in North Fremantle, has been appointed by the City of Fremantle to undertake the investigations as part of the broader redevelopment of Kings Square.

View the archaeological dig zones.

Community invited to become archaeologists for a day

Archae-aus and the Museum of Moving Objects will be conducting public archaeology engagement programs and workshops in Kings Square alongside the excavations.

Archae-aus Executive Archaeologist Fiona Hook said the public will be invited to come and discover first-hand what it’s like to be an archaeologist.

“It’s a very exciting project and we want the whole community to share in the thrill of discovery,” said Ms Hook.

“Not only will the public be able to view the excavations as we uncover Fremantle’s history, but people of all ages can also participate in hands-on activities and events including lunchbox excavations, historical object drawing and sustainability workshops, as well as free on-site talks.”

For public safety and to protect the contents of the dig sites, areas of Kings Square will be fenced off during the archaeological investigations. (map attached)

For more information and links to book workshops and activities through Archae-aus visit the My Say Freo website.