Monday, July 5, 2010

2010 Field School Kick-Off

Today marked the first day of Strawbery Banke's annual two-week archaeological field school. Undaunted by near record-breaking temperatures, field school participants and several long-time archaeology volunteers joined Archaeologist Sheila Charles, Field Supervisor Lindsey Weeks, and Intern Sara Helmers at the Chase House excavation site. This year, our thirteen participants span a variety of ages (from high school students to retirees), locations, (from as nearby as downtown Portsmouth to as far away as Virginia), and experience levels (many have studied archaeology and participated in this and other fields schools in the past, but some have no experience beyond a subscription to Archaeology magazine).

The day began with a presentation introducing participants to the Chase House site and the results of past excavations, followed by an overview of correct archaeological methodology (scrape gently in a horizontal direction with the trowels, never dig with the point). Then everyone was assigned to a unit and excavation began! Historic maps show a kitchen ell, barn, and privy occupying various parts of the yard throughout history, so units were placed in order to look for these features. The field school has excavated at this location for the past two years, uncovering many artifacts as well as a wood foundation of the kitchen ell, and part of a brick structure that we believe is the privy pit. This year, excavation is continuing in the privy area, both digging deeper in previously excavated units and expanding into new units next to the old, where we hope to find more of the foundation.

Keep your eye on this space to find out what exciting things we uncover at this year's field school!


  1. Great beginning to our investigation of the Chase House Site! We have strategically placed new excavation units in locations which will define the dimensions of the brick and field stone privy pit, and locate evidence of the former privy structure and/or barn. Already we are encountering historic artifacts, a comb and fragments of a blue transfer printed white earthenware pitcher.

  2. It is always so exciting when the field school opens at Strawbery Banke. As we begin our 3rd year at the Chase House site, we antipate much. Past digs continue to provide new information--stay tuned for reports from Dr. Joan Merriman and NH State Forensic Dentists on the tooth recovered last year