With the end of the fifth week, field school students have now completed half of the course. A number of them were surprised to find out that they were half way though. They have learned a lot over this period and things that were new or different have now become familiar. Having learned to make and excavate squares, record plan views, and to screen, it is now time to move on to more precise and demanding activities. The two areas we will be working in for the rest of the class are expected to have a number of fences evident. Students will now learn to excavate features on segments of these fences.
This week, we finished the last of our units in the Outbuilding area and completed the recording necessary.
It is too soon to report that we have found the outbuilding for which we have been looking. We do have two large, probably structural, post holes set at a distance of 16.5 feet apart. A line drawn though these posts is at an angle roughly similar to that of the Calvert House foundation. This information needs to be mapped and, next year, we will attempt to find other post holes for this structure.
One of the final units excavated in this area revealed another segment of a c. 1650s fence which crossed the yard from east to west.
We were surprised to see another fence trench which entered the square from the north and cut into the east – west fence. This new fence stops at the 1650s fence and must be related to it. This represents a division of the northern yard which we have not seen before. It would divide the northern part of the 1650s yard almost in half. It will be important in future years to trace this fence and to understand its place in the site layout.
An unusual artifact, for the Calvert House, was a piece of pantile found this week.
While the picture does not show much, this is a fragment of an S-shaped roofing tile, commonly seen in 17th-century, Dutch paintings and familiar from Spanish architecture. While the artifact is not itself unusual, its location at this site raises many questions. The Calvert House did not have a tile roof and the only building in St. Mary’s City known to have a pantile roof was St. Johns. We think of ourselves as the first generation to be concerned with recycling, however, in the 17th century, anything that was still functional would be reused. This may have been a tile that was too broken to be used on a roof but could have had multiple other uses, such as a trivet, a doorstop or any function that required a hard, relatively flat surface. Artifacts like this, seemingly out of place, teach us to look beyond the primary function of artifacts and consider how they might have been useful to the site’s inhabitants.
Another interesting artifact found this week is a small copper button which depicts a Tudor Rose.
The Tudor rose symbol was created by Henry VII after he came to the throne in 1485. After years of devastating civil war, he symbolized the end of hostilities by uniting the white rose of York with the red rose of Lancaster. This new symbol become the badge of the Tudor dynasty. By the time Maryland was founded, it had become a popular symbol of “Englishness” and it is not surprising to find it on this button.
Finally, we can not get through a week without a picture of an interesting piece of 17th-century table glass.
This piece is black in appearance but if held to the light, it has an amethyst color. On top of the black glass, the maker has overlain strips of white glass. This type of decoration has been found at the Vansweringen site and at Smith’s Ordinary. It is another example of how common this expensive glass seems to have been at St. Mary’s City.
We have now moved our excavations into the Pope’s Fort area.
This fortification was constructed by Nathaniel Pope, one of the chief rebels against Lord Baltimore in 1645, during the English Civil War. For the past few years, we have been trying to determine what the defenses along the north wall might have been. Most of the fort has a ditch and, 4 – 6 ft. from the interior edge of the ditch, a palisade fence. When we excavated in this area, there was no palisade found. Instead, there was an irregular line of post holes. Almost 12 ft. from the edge of the ditch are two fence lines. It is hard to determine which of these might relate to the fort. One piece of evidence we do have is in the northwest bastion where the expected palisade was found. Unfortunately, as this fence comes out of the bastion, it is interrupted by a 20th-century oil tank. Our goal is to open a larger area near the oil tank and to define the fences and post holes. Hopefully, we will be able to determine where the bastion palisade goes.