The archaeology of the Secret War: The material evidence of conflict on the Queensland frontier 1849-1901

Barker, Bryce and Wallis, Lynley A. and Burke, Heather and Cole, Noelene and Lowe, Kelsey and Artym, Ursula and Pagels, Anthony and Bateman, Leanne and Hatte, Elizabeth and De Leiuen, Cherrie and Davidson, Iain and Zimmerman, Larry (2020) The archaeology of the Secret War: The material evidence of conflict on the Queensland frontier 1849-1901. Queensland Archaeological Research, 23. pp. 25-41.


Although the historical record relating to nineteenth century frontier conflict between Aboriginal groups and Europeans in Queensland has been clearly documented, there have been limited associated archaeological studies. As part of the Archaeology of the Queensland Native Mounted Police (NMP) project, this paper canvasses the physical imprint of frontier conflict across Queensland between 1849 and the early 1900s, focusing specifically on the activities and camp sites of the NMP, the paramilitary government-sanctioned force tasked with policing Aboriginal people to protect settler livelihoods. At least 148 NMP camps of varying duration once existed, and historical and archaeological investigations of these demonstrate some consistent patterning amongst them, as well as idiosyncrasies depending on individual locations and circumstances. All camps were positioned with primary regard to the availability of water and forage. Owing to their intended temporary nature and the frugality of the government, the surviving structural footprints of camps are generally limited. Buildings were typically timber slab and bark constructions with few permanent foundations and surviving architectural features are therefore rare, limited to elements such as ant bed flooring, remnant house or yard posts, stone lines demarcating pathways, and stone fireplaces. Architectural forms of spatial confinement, such as lockups or palisades, were absent from the camps themselves. The most distinctive features of NMP camps, and what allows them to be distinguished from the myriad pastoral sites of similar ages, are their artefact assemblages, especially the combined presence of gilt uniform buttons with the Victoria Regina insignia, knapped bottle glass, and certain ammunition-related objects.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Heritage and Culture (1 Aug 2018 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2020 01:57
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2020 04:05
Uncontrolled Keywords: Queensland Native Mounted Police, Archaeology, frontier conflict
Fields of Research (2008): 21 History and Archaeology > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology
21 History and Archaeology > 2199 Other History and Archaeology > 219999 History and Archaeology not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history > 450101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander archaeology
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4399 Other history, heritage and archaeology > 439999 Other history, heritage and archaeology not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9503 Heritage > 950302 Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australia's Past
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
Funding Details:
Identification Number or DOI: doi:10.25120/qar.23.2020.3720

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