The Philip Ruddock V Heritage Archaeology Display Centre exhibits some of the best examples of conserved archaeological remains from European occupation.
Open to the public, the museum houses evidence of Parramatta’s foundations as a penal settlement, or ‘Gaol Town’ in 1790. Parramatta (or Rose Hill as it was originally known) was one of only four settlements in Australia in 1790, the others being Sydney, Toongabbie and Norfolk Island.
The site was researched and excavated in 2005 by Edward Higginbotham & Associates and contains four particularly important relics:
Footings of a convict hut
Evidence of occupation by a wheelwright (wheel craftsman)
Remains of the cellar of the Wheatsheaf Hotel (c1801), one of the earliest remnants of a hotel building in Australia
Footings of a colonial period cottage, complete with well
The land on the corner of Macquarie and Marsden Streets was leased to John Graham on 1 January 1806. It was used as a hotel, later known as the ‘Wheatsheaf’ from at least 1801, if not earlier.
This lease is one of only two leases prior to 1823 that can be located on Macquarie Street’s south side. It is an important example of Parramatta’s transformation into a commercial town.
Other areas of the site show how this part of Parramatta changed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most of the allotments were associated with residential development, although the corner of Macquarie and Marsden Streets was one of the early public houses in the town (‘The Shepherd’ from 1825 onwards).
When planning the Crown Group’s V Residential Development, the quality of the Philip Ruddock V Heritage Archaeology Display Centre was a high priority. The museum champions the in-situ display of archaeological relics in the Parramatta CBD.