Monday, June 27, 2016

Penhallow Field School: Session I Recap!

The theme of the first session of field school this year can undoubtedly be summed up in one word: gravel. The site, located in an alleyway between Penhallow House and the Carter Collections Center, was covered with a thick layer of gravel that continued to plague and pester us by rolling back into the trench we were excavating. No matter how much of it we seemed to cart away by wheelbarrow, there was always a huge amount of gravel surrounding the site. It became such a nuisance that the students quickly coined the term "gravelanche," to refer to the constant avalanche of pebbles that were always falling on our heads.
Excavation: Day 1
Despite the constant uphill battle against the gravel, we did manage to accomplish quite a lot in our two weeks of digging. We began by excavating a thick layer that we called the "Brick-y Layer" because we seemed to unearth more brick rubble than actual soil. Underneath this layer, we discovered an oyster shell midden that covers area in at least eight of the westernmost units of the site. We excavated only half, in the interest of saving some for future archaeologists and also in the interest of having enough space and materials to curate so many shells.
Shell Midden after Two Units had Been Excavated

A later discovery of the builders' trench running along the stone foundation of the building was also a great find! We can eventually use the artifacts found in this deposit to help date Penhallow's foundation and determine if or when the "saltbox" addition off the back of the house was added after the house was erected in its current position. The fact that the builders' trench was deeper than the shell midden indicated that the shells were deposited there after the house and its foundation were built, and that they postdate the house. (Another mystery!) Some of our other interesting finds included an 1864 Civil War Token, possibly used for gambling, and an 1862 Indian Head Penny that was found inside the foundation itself.
1862 Indian Head Penny
Let's Hope that the next two weeks of Field School unearth as many interesting finds as the first session! Thanks for all your hard work, everyone!
Field School Session I Crew

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