Field School 2016 – Week 7, Part 2
Travis Parno — Chief Archaeologist
Upon returning from our wonderful field trip to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, our hearty crew returned to excavation during some incredibly hot days. We had a lot of visitors come by the site to see what we’ve been working on and I’m proud to say that all of our students have reached the point where they can drop what they’re doing and lead an informative tour of the site. As an instructor, it’s always enjoyable to watch our students realize just how much they know about our work as they open up and share their enthusiasm with visiting members of the public.
We’re continuing to remove plow zone in a few units in and around our strange feature. The units placed just outside of the feature to the east have turned up a large number of pipe stem fragments and pieces of broken bottle glass. We had hoped to find evidence of spectators through material culture they may have dropped while standing outside of the feature, so these artifacts may confirm our predictions.
On Saturday afternoon, after another morning of working in the heat, we closed up the site a bit early and headed to the dock where the Maryland Dove is moored. Once there, our field team was invited aboard by Captain Will Gates and his crew and we were given a lesson in the complexities of 17th-century sailing.
We all tried our hands at belaying and coiling, hauling lines, and following orders. Despite the vast amount of knowledge required to sail a vessel like the Dove, her crew was very patient with us and took the time to explain not only the basic instructions, but the logic behind them. It was an incredibly informative afternoon. On the following day, we’d put our skills into practice…
We reported to the dock bright and early on Sunday morning. After breaking into smaller groups based on our positions on the ship, we reviewed our lessons and then set sail. Captain Gates used the onboard motor to travel out into the river and then we let the wind take us. We spent much of the morning tacking back and forth, navigating into Horseshoe Bend and back out again.
A few students donned harnesses and tried their hands working up in the rigging. Sabrina Wandres spent the most time at great heights, assisting crew member John in furling the mainsail.
All of us had a blast working on the Dove and we’re very grateful to her crew for inviting us aboard and showing us such a wonderful time. It’s not every field school that gets to enjoy such an experience!
After our busy morning on the water, we traveled to the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation and Brome Howard House to enjoy an informative architecture tour led by Special Projects Archaeologist Ruth Mitchell. Ruth took the team to four buildings at the plantation, as well as the Brome Howard House and its associated slave quarter, which will be home to a new exhibit open to the public by the end of the calendar year. We’re very fortunate here at HSMC to have such great examples of historic (and reproduction) architecture to use as teaching tools to illustrate the important building traditions used by early Marylanders. We’re also fortunate to have architectural experts like Ruth who are willing to share their knowledge with us!
Next week we’ll be back at the site working to trowel our units down to subsoil to locate 17th-century features. We’ll also be hard at work preparing for Tidewater Archaeology Weekend, which is July 30 and 31. Come out to the site and get your hands dirty with the archaeological team!