Archaeological findings at QVM 

Archaeological digging at Queen Victoria Market’s heritage sheds has revealed artefacts from 19th-century Melbourne.

Investigations are underway to explore the archaeological components of Sheds A, B and C and excavations of six test trench sites have so far recovered the foundations of the rifle corps building and some crockery.

Between the 1860s and 1877, the Melbourne and North Melbourne volunteer rifle corps occupied the site of Shed A, which is also the indicative location of a Temperance Hall.

The alignment of the former Cobden Lane will be explored at Shed B and alignment of the old Fulton St will also be tested at Shed C.

Unlike the eight previous archaeological works on the Old Melbourne Cemetery, the current test digs seek to uncover the pre- and post-colonial uses of the market site outside of the cemetery boundary and human remains are unlikely to be found.

Archaeologists from Extent Heritage are hopeful they will find more evidence of orderly rooms from the rifle corps establishment, flagpole and fenced yard, a parade ground and remains of the old streets from early Melbourne.

After the preliminary investigations, a report will be prepared for Heritage Victoria and further permits may be sought for more archaeological works.

Ian Travers, senior associate at Extent Heritage, said the market was an inseparable part of the city’s history.

“Queen Victoria Market is certainly one of the most important components of Melbourne’s heritage and that includes the surrounding sites,” he said.

“The market is considered to be of state significance due to its architectural structure, its archaeology component and its social significance in Melbourne and Victoria.”

Mr Travers also said investigations can also ensure the renewal project preserves the market’s past.

“It’s also about making sure the council’s redevelopment of QVM is compliant and protects the heritage and history of the site.”

He called the exploration a “thoroughly planned” process.

“The work we are doing is designed to give insights about the extent to which the site is related to the history of Melbourne so that people can have better appreciation of 19th century Melbourne,” he said.

“It’s currently being considered for a national heritage listing and if successful, it shows QVM is a national treasure.”

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