An archaeological excavation next to Pompallier Mission in Russell has uncovered evidence of 19th century baking.

Remnants of a ceramic mixing bowl, thought to have been made in the 1800s by British ceramic firm Mason – forerunner of today's Mason and Cash – were discovered during a recent excavation at the Heritage New Zealand property.

Archaeologist James Robinson said the dig was carried out as part of an archaeological authority granted for earthworks for a new sprinkler system.

The bowl, along with bottles and other items, was found in an old rubbish dump in the excavation area.


It was not entirely clear when the bowl was made though initial analysis suggested it could date back to the 1800s.

It was likely that the bowl broke – perhaps while the owner was whipping up a batch of pikelets, or a similar delicacy – and the bits chucked on to the rubbish heap, Robinson said.

Mason and Cash replaced the Mason brand in 1901 and was still producing mixing bowls almost identical to the one discarded in Russell.

In a curious connection with another Heritage New Zealand property, the current version of the classic cane-coloured bowl is for sale at the Stone Store in Kerikeri, along with a range of other authentic trade goods.

Installation of Pompallier Mission's sprinkler system is expected to be completed by summer.