Saturday, June 30, 2012

Return to Smiths Island!

The wind has let up enough for Mike and I to get out to Smiths Island for a day. We found the tarps had survived the gusts but rain had scoured the sites - a good thing, as it turned out! The sets of postholes in the Oven Site really stood out. It appears that there was two or three building/repair phases, with large oval shallow posts as an early phase (green) and small deep round holes (red and blue) as later refits (color coded below). The yellow posthole on the northern wall might have been cut entirely into bedrock originally, only to be bisected and partially exposed later when the cut of the north wall may have been extended.

Most of our short day was spent trying to take the middle unit of the CHB site down to the floor cut, carrying on from where the students left off last week. We started already quite deep and kept going through a layer thick with stone rubble. As we went deeper, we found more slanting stone faces and slot trenches - which strongly suggests that the floor had been quarried away at some point  >:-(

CHB trench, rubble layer, top
CHB trench, irregular bottom

The surface of the apparently quarried stone cut was relatively soft and unweathered, indicating that it had not been left exposed for any length of time (Bermuda limestone hardens when exposed to the elements), but rather was apparently quickly reburied with the rubble material we were digging through. So it might well be that eighteenth-century quarrying activity destroyed the original floor surface of this feature - a scenario I had already experienced in 1996 at the Globe Hotel garden when searching for Bermuda's first documented slave quarters (c. 1620) - the layers of which had been blown away by quarrying to repair the house in the 1780s.  We didn't quite finish getting to the bottom - stopping at a light brown sandy layer that might hold some promise of dating when the quarrying occurred, if we can find datable artifacts.  
Depth = 1 x Mike / 2

We're back tomorrow (Sunday), so if anyone wants to volunteer, please contact me by email (above)!

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