Field School 2015 – Week 10
Ruth Mitchell and Silas Hurry
Our final week of field school was spent finishing up several five by five foot squares that we started. It has been a really successful summer and the students have had the opportunity to work on two very different sites. Once we started excavating on the Calvert Site, the quantity and variety of artifacts found was astonishing! There are no sites in St. Mary’s City that are as archaeologically rich as the Calvert Site, since it was occupied by Native Americans, 17th-century colonists, and later in the 19th and 20th -centuries by the Brome and Howard families.
One of the important skills learned in field school is the fine art of how to use the trowel. While we use shovels to get our squares down to subsoil, the trowel is important to help keep the walls straight and to carefully “clean” the subsoil.
This tedious work allows us to see the cultural features present in the subsoil. It looks relatively easy, but it is a task that is surprisingly difficult to master! The last week was spent carefully troweling the soils so that we can identify the features and soils throughout the excavation area.
We found a variety of metal objects this week, some of which are easier to identify than others! We discovered a delightful little spoon, which appears to be made of a silver and base metal alloy with gold or gilt. Gilt was common on salt spoons since it is so nonreactive.
The bowl is scallop-shaped while the handle is twisted. The handle also appears to have once borne a medallion. Could this be a souvenir spoon brought back from a journey or even a World Exposition? It doubtlessly belonged to the Brome Family and dates to the second half of the 19th century or the first quarter of the 20th century.
Another small object of uncertain date was found, comprised of lead. This horse and rider may be a 19th-century object that was mounted on a base. The rider appears to be carrying a sword, suggestive of a member of the Calvary.
Since the rider’s head is missing, we immediately called the object the Headless Horseman!
A large cast iron object was uncovered this week.
This artifact also likely dates to the Brome Family period, sometime from the 19th or 20th century. There is a face visible in the center, and this may well be part of a stove door!
As the artifacts from the site get washed and processed in the lab in the upcoming months, we will have the opportunity to learn more about many of our interesting finds from this summer’s efforts.