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Archaeology goes down the drain

20 June 2005

In an effort to prevent flooding to restored House 6, I spent the last couple of days clearing out the stone-lined drain across the Street. Over the years the capstones had become buried and the drain completely silted up, so the drain had to be dismantled, cleaned and put back together again. It’s amazing what you can find in an old drain.


A prize find is a metal chain, probably plated bronze, which must have slipped off someone’s old-fashioned fob watch many years ago, and found its way into the silt. A few bits of rusting iron were there too, along with lots of fragments of glazed pottery – including a highly decorated rim of what looks like an early 20th-century teapot. Lower down were two fragments of very rotted leather from a pair of shoes.


Each of these bits and pieces tells us a little bit about everyday life in the village before the islands were evacuated in 1930. But I wonder what the St Kildans would have thought about archaeologists going through their drains and getting excited about their broken rubbish and rotting footwear!


Robin Turner

Acting St Kilda Archaeologist


House 6 drain excavation

The part-excavated House 6 drain, about 40cm deep

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