The casks from the wreck of the William Salthouse

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Casks were the most common containers for the shipment of bulk commodities during the nineteenth century. Cooperage, the trade of making casks, has declined during the twentieth century to the point where two of the three branches of the trade have ceased to exist. The remains of the cask cargo found on the wreck of the William Slathouse provided an opportunity to study cooperage technology, the making of casks, cask contents and stowage methods in a nineteenth century sailing vessel. This paper discusses some of the results obtained during a short test excavation of the wrecksite in 1983. By comparing the archaeological evidence with the historical document it has been possible to demonstrate the use of sub-standard components and poor quality workmanship. The increasing need for legislation to regulate standards and to ensure quality control is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-28
Number of pages8
JournalThe Australian Journal of Historical Archaeology
Publication statusPublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes


  • Casks
  • Pork
  • Cooperages
  • Stowage
  • Excavations
  • Freight
  • Ports
  • Craftsmanship
  • Bilges
  • Beef


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