Research ‘sweep’: Martindale Hall

The Martindale Hall ‘smoking room’.

Flinders University Archaeology Professor Dr Heather Burke and research students will be on the ground – literally – to “sweep” the land surrounding Martindale Hall in Mintaro looking for artefacts.

The archaeology sweep is part of a major project to digitise Martindale’s history – including taking students into the field to see what new material they can uncover to add to the knowledge collection being developed by the Flinders research team.

Led by historian Professor Penny Edmonds the larger project focusses on “slow digitisation” of the histories and memories relating to Martindale and the artefacts inside and outside the Hall.

“Slow digitisation is a process that expands beyond just the artefacts and the buildings as we see them, adding deeper layers of understanding,” explains Dr Edmonds. “Rather than a quick digitisation to scan all archives and materials as a way to preserve the past, we seek to do this slowly and sustainably to ensure meaning is kept and the outcomes are accessible.

“This is also an exciting community and public history project. We are asking people to tell us their stories handed down through their own families about their connections to Martindale. And we’re looking to reconnect artefacts, film, and photographs that might have once been in the Hall but are now elsewhere. We want to find multiple connections between the building, its owners and their objects over time.”

While the slow digitisation project continues – and the archaeological sweep forms a new part of this work – the wider South Australian community can also play a part by coming along to the Martindale Hall Archaeology and Community Heritage Week which runs November 7-10 to share their connections, photographs and stories.

A 3D x-ray of the ‘smoking room’ showing where it sits in Martindale Hall.

Heritage week is an opportunity for the public to add their histories and artefacts to the collection by attending events through the week which includes free public talks, short films, a book launch and a community morning tea, which are all opportunities to share memories, objects, stories and photographs connected to the growing Martindale collection. The research team will be on hand at Martindale Hall to talk to people throughout the week.

Martindale Hall is a sandstone Georgian mansion of some 32 rooms built on Ngadjuri lands north of Adelaide in 1879-1880. It was built by the Bowman family, and later sold to the Mortlock family. For many Australians old enough to recall it on the big screen, Martindale was an iconic 1970s film location featured in Picnic at Hanging Rock. It was bequeathed to the University of Adelaide in 1979 and then handed over to the State Government in 1986.

This research is supported by a grant from the Australian Research Council’s Special Research Initiative in Australian Studies (SR200200900).

Heritage Week program:

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