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Little Lon

Little Lonsdale ceramics

Image: Little Lonsdale ceramics

Source: Museum Victoria

'Little Lon' is an inner-city block in Melbourne bordered by Lonsdale, Exhibition, Little Lonsdale and Spring Streets. The area, also known as the Commonwealth Block as it was acquired by the Commonwealth Government in 1948, has been subject to five archaeological excavations since 1988. Museum Victoria is custodian of the 500,000+ artefacts excavated from four of the five digs: Little Lon in 1988, Black Eagle and Odd Fellows Hotels in 1990, 17 Casselden Place in 1995, and Casselden Place in 2002.

During the mid to late nineteenth century, Little Lon evolved as a predominantly working class area. It was characterised by a series of laneways, with small properties packed together creating crowded and unsanitary conditions. In the public's consciousness, Little Lon was a slum, riddled with poverty, prostitution and drug addiction.

Little Lon was the city's 'Red Light District', but it was also home to the city's poorest residents and recently arrived immigrants from Ireland, Italy, China and Syria. And what recent archaeological and historical research shows us is that under adverse conditions, many individuals and families managed to make homes, raise children, and establish businesses in Little Lon.

Items per page: 10 50 (showing 1 - 10) 396 items

  • Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1880

    This dark green glass bottle was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It was most likely used for wine or beer. Alcohol and Drinking. There were 15 hotels at Little Lon in 1900. The ...

    Images: 1
  • Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Bottle - Green Glass, circa 1880

    This green glass bottle was excavated from Casselden Place in 2003. It was most likely used for wine or beer. Alcohol and Drinking. There were 15 hotels at Little Lon in 1900. The pro ...

    Images: 1
  • Demijohn - Stoneware, Salt Glazed  (Fragment) Archaeology

    Demijohn - Stoneware, Salt Glazed (Fragment)

    This salt glazed polychrome demijohn was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Food and eating. Kitchen facilities in the homes of Little Lon were rudimentary. Few people had ovens or ...

    Images: 1
  • Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Pipe - Clay, circa 1880 (Part)

    This bowl from a clay tobacco pipe was excavated from Casselden Place in 2003. A pipeful of tobacco was long-lasting and its aroma disguised the stench of Melbourne's streets. The shor ...

    Images: 1
  • Jewellery - Semi-precious Stone, circa 1880 (Part) Archaeology

    Jewellery - Semi-precious Stone, circa 1880 (Part)

    This semi-precious stone item of jewellery was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Its shape indicates it would have been a pendant or earing drop. Jewellery and ornamentation. Pover ...

    Images: 1
  • Candle Stick - Metal, circa 1880 (Incomplete) Archaeology

    Candle Stick - Metal, circa 1880 (Incomplete)

    The base and handle of this candle stick was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It would have been used domestically.

    Images: 1
  • Coin - Metal, Malay Peninsula, 1829-1830 Archaeology

    Coin - Metal, Malay Peninsula, 1829-1830

    This coin was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It was manufactured between 1829-1830 in Malaysia or Indonesia. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a diverse p ...

    Images: 1
  • Pendant - Virgin Mary, Metal, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Pendant - Virgin Mary, Metal, circa 1880

    This pendant was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. It has an image of the Virgin Mary. Cultural diversity in Little Lon. Little Lon was home to a diverse population. Germans, Jews ...

    Images: 1
  • Tie Pin - Flower, Metal, circa 1880 Archaeology

    Tie Pin - Flower, Metal, circa 1880

    This gold metal tie pin with a flower head finial was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Jewellery and ornamentation. Poverty did not prevent Little Lon's inhabitants - women and me ...

    Images: 1
  • Mirror - circa 1880 (Damaged) Archaeology

    Mirror - circa 1880 (Damaged)

    This small, round mirror for personal use was excavated at Casselden Place in 2003. Health and hygiene. 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness'. This is a difficult maxim to follow when ' ...

    Images: 1
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