Stoddart Cottage, a listed Historic Place Category 1 building and archaeological site of significance, is located in Diamond Harbour.

Side view of Stoddart Cottage

Located off Waipapa Avenue in Diamond Harbour, Stoddart Cottage is open on weekends from 10am to 4pm.

History

Stoddart Cottage was built by the Scottish-born Mark Stoddart who purchased a number of rural sections in what is now known as Diamond Harbour during the 1850s. By the 1860s Diamond Harbour was described as a "beauty spot" with its "neat cottage, pretty garden and green fields about it." The cottage was expanded in 1862, likely in preparation for Stoddart's impending nuptials. Building materials were shipped from Australia to Lyttelton followed by doors, sashes, glasses and furniture and the new couple settled into the improved cottage.

In 1866, the house was advertised for lease while the Stoddart's travelled to London with two children. The number of rooms described suggests that the west wing extension had been added by this time as it contained "Sitting room, five Bed-rooms, Servants room, Kitchen, and Offices".

The Stoddarts' returned in 1867 and in 1873, Mark Stoddart subdivided his land and sold 500 acres to Harvey Hawkins who went on to build what would be known as Godley House

British Empire penny

British Empire penny

Earthquake repairs

After suffering earthquake damage, earthworks were needed to stabilise Stoddart Cottage and archaeologists were brought on site to monitor repairs. After an inspection of the building in 2016, it was found that the two roomed rear section of the building was the earliest construction as the northern internal wall was filled with insulating dirt indicating it began as an external wall.

When the rotting floorboards were removed, it was also discovered that there was no piling and the cottage stood on compacted earth suggesting it would have originally had a dirt floor. Works undertaken were the repairing of two chimneys and fireplaces as well as drainage earthworks. 

Slate pencil and shell button

Slate pencil and shell button

Excavation and artefacts

The first excavation was of a double fireplace that was built between 1862 and 1866. All stone cladding and the brick base were removed and several black beer bottle fragments were discovered immediately. More glass was found in the underfloor space, as well as four coins that had probably slipped between the gaps in the timber floor.

One black beer bottle appeared to have been deliberately lodged under the foundations, possibly by the builders for superstitious reasons. In total, 84 artefacts were recovered from this feature, sheep bones with marks consistent with butchery cuts, many fragments of alcohol bottles such as black beer and cognac and condiment bottles such as a salad oil bottle and pickle jar.

Of the coins discovered, one was from the nineteenth century, a British Empire penny minted in 1863. A slate pencil showing use at one end was also discovered along with a button made of shell.

John Stewart and Co. whiskey bottles from Kirkliston Distillery in Scotland

John Stewart and Co. whisky bottles

The second fireplace investigation also uncovered interesting artefacts. A ceramic fragment of a large blacking bottle was found, blacking being used for a number of things including the treatment of leather.

Again, alcohol bottles were prominent and as well as many black beer bottles, two whisky bottles were found that had come from John Stewart and Co, whisky distillers from Kirkliston distillery in Scotland between 1855 and 1877. 

A drainage trench was hand excavated and many artefacts were found scattered along the length. During this work, a number of timber weatherboards on the walls of the house were exposed and found to be rotting. When these were removed, the space under the house became accessible and more artefacts were recovered.

Many of the artefacts beneath a section of cottage built between 1862 and 1866 could be seen but not accessed and were left in situ. Recovered artefacts included a number of ceramics such as side plates, platters, a bowl and an egg cup. The egg cup was decorated with a transfer printed pattern featuring swallows, possibly in the style of the Japanese aesthetic that was so popular in England during the 1870s and 1880s when Japan opened up trade to the west.

Egg cup fragment with transfer printed swallow pattern

Egg cup fragment 

The actual drainage trench contained a number of ceramic and glass artefacts as well such as teacups, a chamber pot, jar, porcelain candle holder and a Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce bottle. These bottles are commonly recovered from nineteenth century New Zealand sites as they were imported to New Zealand from 1852 onwards. 

A large number of artefacts were discovered during the repair work on Stoddart Cottage despite the small area investigated and the cottage has now been recorded as an archaeological site.

Further information

Read more about Stoddart Cottage and its significance in the Christchurch District Plan(external link) or about its listing as a Historic Place Category 1 building with Heritage New Zealand(external link).