From 1845, the old Melbourne Gaol held Melbourne’s most dangerous criminals. The original cells also held petty offenders, debtors, children, the homeless and the mentally ill along with Australia’s most infamous prisoner, the bushranger Ned Kelly.
Prisoners executed at the goal were buried in the grounds so when Melbourne goal was closed in 1929, the bodies were exhumed and reburied at Pentridge prison.
While coffins and a proper undertaker were used for the majority of exhumations, a small numer during the early interment process were dug up by builders. These bodies were moved in whatever boxes the workers had to hand; this is a box that once held axe heads. Handwriting can still be seen on the lid…perhaps the name of the prisoner?
This burial box, among others, was excavated by Heritage Victoria in 2009 as part of the archaeological investigations undertaken as part of the Pentridge prison redevelopment.
Accession Number: PE 00333
Photography and 3D model by Jane Mitchell.