Monday, June 17, 2013

Gales and Haggis and Deep-fried Mars Bars

Since my last post, we lost a couple of days to a nasty front that passed over Bermuda and rendered it too windy to get across the harbour to work. Much of this time was spent indoors catching up on work while the students watched Swamp People and Pawn Stars on the Bizarre American Subcultures Channel (formerly known as the History Channel). I knew life had gone horribly wrong when they all started talking like Swamp People ("Gaytr! Shoot! Shoot 'em!"). But when the front passed through (just in time to save my sanity), it settled down amazingly quickly:
Saturday Morning
Sunday Morning
And let it be noted this was Father's Day weekend - If memory serves, a nasty storm sprang up about this time last year - good thing we weren't working and trapped on Smiths Island this time around...

Now, having Saturday cancelled was not met with loud lamentations, since we had seen that the second Bermuda Highland Games were to be held that afternoon. Amazingly, the squalls stopped and wind dropped around 1pm and by the time we got to Hamilton at 2:30, it was bright sun and actually quite hot! We were greeted by the sound of bagpipes as we stepped off the bus by City Hall and beat the parade to Saltus Field.

After the Halifax RCMP band and accompanying dancers had properly started the Games, Bermuda's Governor George Ferguson, clad in kilt, welcomed all and sundry

 We secured a good spot to watch the tug of war matches and the caber tossing. I couldn't resist trying the haggis and a deep-fried Mars bar with whipped cream - as did the more adventurous students.
Are those kilts regimental?
A captain speaks gentle words of encouragement
 to the RCMP team

Fukumi and Anima
Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day to dig, and we had surprisingly little water pooled up on our tarps or in our units. U of R student Fukumi was our guest digger - she had come down to study documentary film-making with Lucinda Spurling, but we borrowed her for the day to try to get to the floor of the front part of Oven Site...

...which defied our attempts as we discovered a hitherto unknown lower rubble layer... Seems like the front portion of the house we've entered has a lower floor cut than the back kitchen area. Jonathan spent the entire day clearing large blocks of stone and other rubble from the area we thought might be a bulwark or staircase. At the end of the day he had cleared nearly three feet of material - and still not quite gotten down to bedrock yet! 

In the main trench we continue to recover coarse tin-glazed earthenwares, more flakes of chert, lots of bones, some metal architectural hardware, and even a few pieces of unglazed Iberian earthenware. We found a large piece of a milkpan base, probably Metropolitan-ware (c. 1630-1660) in the new rubble layer under the various floors we've been digging through, which further confirms the dating of this house. It was trying enough to force a relapse in Swamp-speak at times ("darrun, diggen dem hur conticks, nar nar...") - forcing me to take evasive action.

Jonathan, Fukumi, and Anima: Armed and Dangerous
To arrest this slippery slide into Deliverance territory (and I mean the movie, not the ship!) we went over to Smallpox Bay to begin clearing around the cottage there in preparation for mapping and limited test excavations next week. We found the rusty hulk of an old car or truck right outside the front door - remains from the 1970s farming days. It was good therapy clearing away the sprawling Mexican pepper and allspice trees that surrounded the house. When I first scouting this location in 2009, it still had much of its roof but now all but one of the rafter pairs have fallen away and the slates have all fallen in. By the end of the day, we had a pretty clear view of the cottage and a good working area for establishing our local GIS grid. We hope to firm up the dating of this building (known to be standing in 1811) and its function: slave house? quarantine station? autonomous tenant?

Today (Monday) is Kristina's birthday, and my present to her was to make today our outing to the National Museum of Bermuda, rather than make her dig. We repeated our itinerary from last year, taking the fast ferry out to Dockyard and touring the Maritime Museum and archaeology lab (thanks, Jillian, for letting us in!) in order to see a wide variety of artifacts recovered from shipwrecks undergoing conservation treatment. The fully opened Shipwreck Island! exhibit is even more impressive than the sneak peak we got last year - now fleshed out with interactive touch-screens.  

The dolphins were also fun to watch.

And like last year, we ended the field day with a trip to the beach - this time Church Bay, which has fantastic snorkeling. (Warwick Long Bay would have been good, but probably with rough waves and quite crowded, since today is Heroes Day, a national public holiday in Bermuda (and entirely coincidental to Kristina's birthday).

We ended a very eventful day with a golf lesson from Jonathan (who is on the U of R team), who very patiently instructed us on how to use a nine-iron on the once fantastic but now overgrown St. George's Golf Course a short walk from our condo. As the sun set, we deposited a couple dozen balls in mostly random places (well, not Jonathan, who put them OVER the green we were aiming for) for future archaeologists to discover. Since Somers Market closed before we returned to St. George's, Kristina was left cake-less (not unlike me on my seventh birthday, spent in Yugoslavia - a long and bitter story...), so she got a candle on her home-made pizza instead. When in the field, your most important skill is improvisation...

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