Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Lone Grave - To whom does it belong?

View of Grave (fenced) looking towards Withers Road
In William Harvey Reserve in Sandlewood Close at Rouse Hill in northwestern Sydney, there lies a single unmarked grave with a granite headstone. It has a single large cross etched into the stone. 

The site of the grave lies high up on the banks of the nearby Caddies Creek, facing in a south-westerly direction, just off Withers Road.

View of grave on oval shaped mound 

View of grave with stones surround

View showing a large cross etched into the headstone

View of grave from the rear showing the rounded top and stone shoulders

Up until about 2001, the area was known as Gravestone Park. There are no markings to identify the possible inhabitant(s) of the grave. So who does it belong to? 

There are two possible explanations.

The signage at the site states that "the grave of adult size, was constructed between 1840's and 1860's,and is probably the grave of someone who lived and worked on this farm and was buried there as there was no cemetery in the area at the time". [The earliest gravestone  found in the nearby Rouse Hill General Cemetery is dated 1870].

An interesting reference and possible alternative explanation is found in the book, Newcastle Its First Twenty Years:The Irish Rebellion and the Settlement of Newcastle 1804. Narrated and published by John W Delaney, Stockton 2004 [page 57]

Delaney nominates the site as that of the battle of Vinegar Hill of 1804, and cites some local oral tradition of it being a mass grave for the Irish rebels who fell there in the 1804 battle. He postulates that during the battle a great number of unarmed Irishman fled in all directions and were killed on site. A traditional story is that over the next few days after the battle, friends gathered the bodies of the dead Irishmen, particularly at Caddies Creek and placed them in a mass grave, high up from flood level, in the soft mounds of Caddies Creek.


Blog prepared by Mary McGuinness

All photos taken 15 April 2014

If you are interested in researching Australian history, go to our website at :

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The White Hart Inn - Linking with the Past

During excavation work for the sky train section of the North West Rail Link near the intersection of Old Windsor and Windsor Roads at Kellyville in north-western Sydney, the ruins of an early 19th century colonial inn were uncovered.

As part of the heritage work on the site, an archaeological dig began in December 2013. Over the weekend of 5 and 6 April 2014, two community open days were held to allow public access to the site and showcase the results.

The inn has been identified as the White Hart Inn which was dated back to 1826 when it was built by convict labour, including one James Gough (per Earl Spencer 1813). William Cox owned  the land on which the inn was built. The first publican is listed as William Cross (1830-1831) [NSW State Records - Publicans Licences]

Site of archaeological dig at the
White Hart Inn Kellyville.
December 2013- March 2014

Plan of archaeological excavation of the
 White Hart Inn prepared by the heritage specialists,
plus artist' s impression of the inn circa 1840s.

The dig is impressive uncovering:
  •  brick and sandstone foundations of a building 20 metres wide and 15 metres long facing  Windsor Road:
View of Inn frontage facing Windsor Road with
 verandah and two winged rooms.

View of main body of the Inn to the rear with a
 possible cellar site to the right.

Cellar excavatiom
View showing brickwork for rear verandah
  • separate kitchen building, 13 metres long and 5 metres wide, at the north-east corner of the main building, with two possible fireplaces.
View of separate kitchen building

View of likely fireplace at
one end of the kitchen

View of another fireplace structure
at the other end of kitchen
  • cistern for drainage;
View of cistern
  • over 2000 artefacts:
Artefacts in situ

Selection of artefacts uncovered

Key - possibly to the main door?

1816 Coin with Roman image of George 111

Selection of bottles found.

Cherry toothpaste container with an
 image of Queen Victoria

Fragment of a ceramic plate

Salt container , inscribed "Western aand Westarlis
British Tabs Salt

The discovery of the White Hart Inn site and ruins is very significant. Firstly, it takes us back to the beginnings of the Windsor Road in the early days of the colony when it was the main road between Parramatta and Windsor. It tells us the story of an important watering hole and an overnight accommodation spot along the way .

Today, the site will stand as a link from the past to the new railway of the future. It is anticipated that the site will be buried later this year so it can be conserved. One of the proposed pylons for the sky train will now be relocated.

History Services NSW in its Hotel and Liquor Licenses Database, has a complete index of over 52,000 persons who were licensed in the New South Wales liquor industry from 1856 to 1900.

In particular, there is an index of publicans from 1865 to 1900. 

This records John Seath ( per Minstrel 1825) as the licensee for the White Hart Inn, Windsor Road from 1865 to 1870 and from 1871 to 1874.


Blog prepared by Mary McGuinness

All photos taken on site at the community Open Day, Sunday 6 April 2014.

For further information go to the website: