Field school moved south this week to begin excavations in the area of the north wall of Pope’s Fort.
In 1645, Richard Ingle, sailing for Parliament in the English Civil War, arrived in Maryland and raised the Protestants against Lord Baltimore. At the time, Nathaniel Pope was living in the Calvert House and he became one of the chief rebels. He built a fort around the house and it was known as “Mr. Pope’s Fort.” This became the center of the rebellion. In 1647, after Leonard Calvert retook the colony, he reacquired the house from Pope and the fort was destroyed shortly thereafter.
As we began excavations, it became obvious that there was a significant increase in the amount of English flint being recovered.
While the most obvious use of this stone was in firearms known as flintlocks, it was also used extensively to strike a piece of steel to produce fire starting sparks. We have not yet found any shaped gunflints but it is likely that the increase in the number of flint pieces is due to the use of guns at Pope’s Fort.
The Research Design for this summer calls for the field school to finally answer the question about the defenses of the north wall of the fort.
For several years now, we have excavated squares in this area and only created more confusion. Most of the fort consists of a ditch, about six feet wide and 4 feet deep, and a palisade, set about 4 – 6 feet from the interior edge of the ditch. We looked for this palisade but did not find it. The map shows a series of post holes where the palisade should be. On the left side of the map is the northwest bastion of the fort and it has a standard palisade. Unfortunately, that fence is interrupted by a 20th-century oil tank. Currently we are excavating the four units marked with “Xs” and we hope that the palisade will emerge from the oil tank and either join with one of the known fences to the east or point to the line of post holes.
Coming back from the 4th of July holiday, we found quite a surprise on the site.
A portion of a large tree broke off and landed on and around the archaeology trailer. Most of the tree missed the trailer but a branch fell on the roof, bent the frame and buckled the back wall. The trailer is where all our equipment is kept and it will be important to make sure that it is repaired. It could have been much worse.
A number of interesting artifacts were recovered this week. The first is a glass prunt from a piece of 17th-century table glass.
These are often seen in contemporary Dutch paintings and they severed to keep the glass from slipping through greasy fingers. The molded ridges on modern bottles serve the same function.
As always a large number of pipe fragments have been recovered. Two of these were of particular interest.
Finally, we recovered another part of a lead cloth seal.
This type of artifact was used to prove that the taxes were paid on cloth made in England or imported from somewhere else. Often they show where the cloth was made and what year the tax was paid. So far, we have not been lucky enough to find that kind of information. Two weeks ago, I illustrated a cloth seal that was blank. This week, the seal bears the Roman numerals XII which indicated the length of the cloth so marked but nothing else.