Graffiti engraved by soldiers on a military prison wall in Hobart more than 150 years ago has been discovered by accident during renovations.
A building contractor tidying up brickwork at Anglesea Barracks near the city centre stumbled across the markings about a fortnight ago.
'Hoey' was repeated several times, as was a triple E with an inverted N and symbols relating to the 14th and 99th Regiment of Foot, British divisions stationed in Hobart from the 1840s to the '70s.
Defence Tasmania sustainability manager Kate Hibbert said there was also a little picture of a hat badge relating to the 99th regiment.
"The wall they're scratched into was a military prison exercise wall," she said.
"It would have been soldiers who were in the prison for punishment for some indiscretion."
Dr Hibbert said a wagon shed built in the early 1900s had helped protect the wall.
"If it was out and exposed to the elements it probably would have eroded away by now," she said.
Similar graffiti has previously been found on the doors of the building, which was built in 1847 and used as a prison for disobedient British soldiers until the late 1870s.
Dr Hibbert said clear perspex would be build over the engravings so they could be viewed by the public and studied further by historians.
"When I saw the '99' and the 14th regiment I was pretty surprised because that was 170 years ago," she said.
"It was really exciting to see something that hasn't been noticed for that long."
Australian Associated Press