This blog follows the reconstruction of the Revolutionary War Public Armoury on the James Anderson site
Reconstruction of the Blacksmith's & Public Armoury
July 16, 2012
What’s Happening Under the Tent?
With the Roving Webcam one casualty of a recent summer storm, it has been difficult to keep tabs on archaeological progress at the south end of the Armoury lot. A new camera is expected to arrive sometime this week. Until then, we offer this update on recent discoveries.
Over the last six weeks archaeologists have been engaged in excavating postholes of all shapes and sizes. In fact, it is probably safe to say that western side of Lot 18 (on which the Armoury was located between 1778 and 1780) is one of the most clearly marked boundaries that we have encountered in the Historic Area. Where one posthole was dug, there are often 6 or 8 replacement holes. As archaeologists have tackled these postholes– sorting out their order and excavating them in sequence– the Armoury site has begun to look a bit like a moonscape.
Why the determination to mark this boundary through time? We’re not entirely sure. Certainly there was a need to protect the Armoury and its contents, but the Armoury tenure was brief, and it would not seem necessary to replace fence posts six or eight times over the course of two years. One possible explanation is that the fence was erected early in the 18th century and maintained to keep wanderers (human and animal) out of the ravine that lay just west of the Armoury.
Postholes have so defined our recent work that we were delighted to discover something that wasn’t a posthole. Late last week we began digging into a large straight-sided pit that has been visible on the surface for a number of weeks. It appears to measure about 8′ north-south, and is at least that long running east-west (though that dimension has yet to be determined). It has carefully dug sides that slope gently inward toward the bottom. So far, the pit is at least 3’ deep, and contains artifacts that appear to have come from the Armoury: French gun flints, pieces of lead used to secure those flints in the gunlock, and clinker. There are also artifacts relating to other activities on the site: lead shot still attached to the sprue, ceramic fragments, tobacco pipe bowls and stems, and animal bones…the remains of meals. So what is this feature? There are a number of possibilities: it could be a very small cellar (less likely due to the sloping sides), a very large privy (this possibility was raised because it sits immediately adjacent to the Armoury privy discovered in 2000…but this would be quite large for a privy). Today’s hypothesis is that it’s a saw pit. As we dig further and learn more about this feature, you’ll be the first to know. Until then, a few pictures…..
Meredith Poole, Staff Archaeologist
Funded by a generous gift from Forrest E. Mars Jr., of Big Horn, Wyoming.