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Uncovering a Hidden History

The question of what has, and has not, been culturally marked is pertinent in cultural landscape analysis. The potential of this investigative technique to reveal seemingly invisible histories, or to contradict existing historical narratives, is particularly evident on the diggings. For example, the Chinese are largely insignificant in the popular historical memory of the central Victorian goldfields region, but examination of extant cultural landscapes reveals that they were a substantial presence, contributing significantly to community life. Cultural landscape evaluation of Peppergreen Farm in Bendigo, and of the Central Springs Chinese village, has revealed extensive Chinese activity: one of the largest earthenware Chinese kilns outside China was recently uncovered at Peppergreen Farm, near the Chinese temple in White Hills. A close examination of the Monk, the highest point of the Castlemaine diggings, provides further support for the usefulness of the method – it reveals a pre-gold Aboriginal presence in an area where it was thought that evidence of Indigenous existence had been destroyed during extensive mining activity.

Identifying the historical background of heritage sites, and evaluating ways in which they have been interpreted, discloses the contested nature of the way present-day observers understand them, and demonstrates ‘how groups and individuals struggle to shape the past to their own ends’.

Keir Reeves

Foote, Kenneth E., Shadowed ground America's landscapes of violence and tragedy, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1997. Details
Gillis, John R., Commemorations: the politics of nationalidentity, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1994. Details