An archaeologist monitoring digging in Whanganui's Wilson St found early plough marks, the ruts of a former road and postholes from a protective palisade.
The postholes are consistent with the location and nature of the Lower Stockade. It was built to fortify the block of the fledgling town that included the Commercial Hotel and settlers' houses when the town was threatened with attack in 1847, Annetta Sutton said.
Wilson St was being dug for months late last year, starting from the Whanganui River and running as far as Maria Pl. The excavation was across the site of earliest European settlement in Whanganui.
It was a known archaeological site where more pre-1900 remains were likely.
The dug corridor was needed for water, wastewater and drinking water pipes. It was 3m wide and deep in places and digging it needed authority from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. Monitoring by an archaeologist is the kind of "rescue work" common when such development happens in an historic area.
That part of Whanganui was one of the earliest settled by Europeans after 1840, Sutton said. It was also occupied and used by Māori. A midden found under a lower Wilson St footpath during emergency sewer repairs some years ago showed that.
Sutton's attention to the area began on the Taupō Quay riverside. There was evidence there of 1870s land reclamation, and plough marks under the old road that date back to first land clearance in the 1840s.
The road has been in place for a long time, she said, and what was underneath it was mostly intact. There was a section of brick "barrel" drain, potholes and the long ruts of wagon wheels.
Artefacts were mostly broken glass and crockery, but there were also fragments of white clay smoking pipes, a mouth harp and part of a horse bridle. Other postholes there could have been for small houses or fences, and there were some shellfish shell waste and possible evidence of early brickmaking.
Further up Wilson St a deep bank of pumice laid down after the Taupō eruption would have made for a drier and less flood-prone living area, Sutton said.
Under the road near Ridgway St she found a former well that had been filled in with the rubbish of the day - early crockery including plates, bowls and cups, 1840s and 1850s bottles, more smoking pipes, pearl buttons and part of a cast iron cooking pot.
The well also had fish and animal food waste, including goat and pig skulls, and flounder and cattle bones.
Analysis of all the remains is ongoing, Sutton said.