Beneath the backyard lawns and peaceful bungalows of Clyde, a rich seam of hidden history could be found, Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust says.

The trust hoped to encourage landowners in Clyde to think about the importance of heritage elements on their land.

Project manager Terry Davis said the trust was conducting a heritage sites review across Central Otago and as part of that, it organised two meetings last Wednesday at the Lodge Dunstan to speak to owners about their properties.

The focus of the project was to update the New Zealand Archaeological Association’s ArchSite online database of heritage sites.

Many sites in Central Otago had not been updated since the 1960s and there could be a large number of heritage elements that were not recorded.

The benefits for landowners was they gained a free archaeological assessment of their land, removing uncertainty and providing valuable insights into the history of their property, Mr Davis said.

Upgrades to Clyde’s wastewater system could mean more people were considering making changes to their properties, including subdivisions.

Backyards could have a wealth of unknown archaeological heritage that was not immediately obvious.

Heritage New Zealand archaeologist Nikole Wills said the definition of an archaeological site in New Zealand was any site occupied before 1900.

If there was evidence of pre-1900 occupation, owners needed to talk to a consultant archaeologist before commencing building plans.

Archaeological sites had blanket protection and an archaeological authority was required before undertaking any work that could modify or destroy a site.

There was no charge for the authority process and it generally took between 20 and 40 working days, depending on the type of application, she said.