Artifact Spotlight: A Scottish Brick

Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens

GARTCRAIG brick found in the south garden of Point Ellice House, April 2020

As part of our south garden rehabilitation we have been uncovering various pieces of historical archaeology – particularly bricks, which the O’Reilly family used to create walkways and line borders and paths. Most bricks uncovered so far have not had any markings, making it difficult to identify the manufacturer and date. This week, however, we found an fully intact brick with the marking “GARTCRAIG.”

GARTCRAIG bricks were manufactured near Glasgow, Scotland between 1876 and 1927. Victoria had a number of brickyard during this period, so how did a brick from Scotland find its way into the Point Ellice House gardens?

Bricks were often used as ship ballast, so it is possible the brick was found (possibly along the Point Ellice House shoreline) and repurposed for use in the gardens. Another interesting possibility is that this brick came from a shipment of GARTCRAIG bricks that arrived in Victoria in 1906. In his report on the Highlands lime kiln, heritage consultant Stuart Stark explains that “Robert Ward Co. imported a large quantity of GARTCRAIG firebricks and Fireclay from Scotland to the Victoria market. He sold this shipment over a period of around six months.”

From the Daily Colonist, August 4th, 1906.

Peter O’Reilly died in 1905, and his daughter Kathleen spent the next few years adding her own touches to the gardens. Did she purchase bricks from Robert Ward and Co. in 1906? Perhaps she repurposed the brick from somewhere else? Maybe it was found along the shore and added to the south garden border? We can’t be sure – but finding this brick adds another piece of the puzzle to our ongoing efforts to better understand the historical landscape at Point Ellice House.

Do you have brick pathways in your gardens? Do you re-use found materials in the yard? Have you come across a GARTCRAIG brick? Leave a comment on our social media pages, or get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.


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