Special Edition             Day 7             May 14, 2001


The Fort Edwards  Archaeologist

Unearthing the Story of Joseph Edwards's Home and Fort    


Report on the Archaeological Excavations at Fort Edwards, home site of Joseph
Edwards and a French and Indian War frontier fort of Col. George Washington.

This archaeological excavation is part of the ongoing project of The Fort Edwards Foundation of Capon Bridge, West Virginia, to preserve, protect and iterpret the home site and fort site at Joseph Edwards's land grant on the banks of the Cacapon River in Hampshire County, West Virginia. This site represents both an early settler's home of the second quarter of the eighteenth century and a French and Indian War fort in Col. George Washington's chain of forts protecting the Virginia frontier. The excavation is under the direction of Dr. Stephen McBride of Wilbur Smith Associates of Lexington, KY. This page is one of a series of reports on the work.


Day Seven - School Tours & French Flint

A Summary:
Report on the First Week's Work at Fort Edwards

Our goals of the first week were to assess the archaeological integrity of the Edwards site, re-explore the 1990 colonial era features, hopefully locate some more colonial era features and attain an understanding of the spatial distribution of artifacts at the site.

Through the excavation of small (about one and a half foot square) test pits across the site we have begun to understand temporal and integrity variability across the site.

After assessing the distribution of artifacts collected around the house it appears that the present house may not be aligned as the original colonial settlers' house was aligned. The older house may have faced the river rather than the hard-surfaced road as the present house does; or the house may have faced south. The original house may have been located nearby and not on the exact location of the present structure.

The team relocated the north-south ends of Dr. Gardner's possible stockade line. The south end of the line is very shallow and tapers to an end suggesting that it has been badly damaged by sever erosion and plowing. The true south end of the feature has most likely been destroyed.

The north end of the stockade feature is much better preserved and has clear post-molds within it (unlike the south end) suggesting that it is indeed a stockade line. At the north end the stockade trench also widens suggesting the possible location of a gate.

Unfortunately, the team has not been successful in locating any more of the stockade trench or any definite 18th century features although a small cellar pit (feature 8) contains animal bone. Unfortunately, these remains cannot be definately dated.

The second week's activities will include the use of a backhoe to excavate trenches as we continue the search to mark the fort's exact location.

        Another School Tour

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The weather was a bit cool today, but the coolest thing was the school tour that occurred today. We had about 82 fifth graders who were really into history.

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The students were broken into smaller groups for the three segments of the tour. Above is Ms. Kesner teaching the archaeological class. Isn't it a pretty day; of course, no one was distracted by the weather! Everyone enjoyed the day and we got rave reviews. Still they may have liked lunch the most.

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Bisecting Features 5-14f12.jpg - 21232 Bytes  5-14f12a.jpg - 8448 Bytes
Some of the crews spent much of the day bisecting features revealed earlier last week. This means that they dug into a part of the feature so they could see what is was composed of and how deep it went. 5-14draw.jpg - 8420 BytesThis is a slow process that requires carefully cutting into the feature and then recording what you find. Here we see that confusing feature from Saturday's page that had the bottle neck exposed. The line level us used to help measure the depth of each layer of the feature.

To the right is a drawing that Cathy did of one of her STPs. It shows the detail of the record of layers. The lines of the graph paper do not show up too well in this picture, but the drawing is made to scale and and notes all characteristics including the color and type of soil. The line at the bottom of the drawing marked "subsoil" shows where undisturbed ground is; no artifacts are expected to be found below this line.

"Stockade Post"
5-14post.jpg - 14175 BytesThis bisecting was done on several of the features including the "stockade trench" that Dr. Gardner had found in 1990. This picture shows a bisection of that trench. It reveals clearly the presence of a post mark - evidence of the presence long ago of a post buried here. Because the lighting was not good, we marked the post outline in this picture by short red lines so you can see it better. The trench itself is the curved line below the post mark that turns up to the surface at either side of the picture. That show us that someone dug a trench and placed the post into it and then packed the dirt back in. Maybe we are getting closer to our "fort".

Dirt or Treasure
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When the features are bisected there are sometimes artifacts found in them. This picture shows the difficulty of finding artifacts in the dirt. This picture shows a protion of the "stockade trench" that contained a piece of redware. At first it looks line a narrow stone. Only by carefully scrapping the dirt with a small trowel can one find these artifacts with out damaging them. The ceramic is just to the right of the trowel point.


5-14chck.jpg - 23164 BytesIt is the job of the senior archaeologist to check on each crew throughout the day. Dr. McBride was kept busy by the several crews working on the site. He regularly moves from place to place inspecting the quality of the work and making sure that all artifacts are place in correctly labeled bags. Although he will take all the artifacts back to the laboratory for detailed inspection and identification, his years of experience allow him to make good estimates of the age and origin of many of the artifacts.



Beautiful Day
5-14sky.jpg - 24582 BytesSometimes when you dig in the dirt, you miss what is overhead, but today no one missed the beauty of the day. Although the forecast had been for afternoon showers, we had a beautiful end of the work day with billows of white clouds in an azure sky. What a wonderful day to be outdoors. Think of all those poor desk jockeys kooped up indoors who did not volunteer to come help us. See what you missed.


  Artifacts of the Day
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Our Artifacts of the Day include (clockwise from top center) two French flints, a piece of pipe stem, scratch blue white salt glazed stone ware, English powered purple delft and plain delft ware. The French flints are called "French" not because we think a French soldier left them, but because the type of flint they are made from is found only in France. It is a brown color (lighter than this photograph shows) obviously differing from the dark gray English flint.




Volunteers of the Day
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 It is always great to see people so turned on by history. Here we have some members who really enjoy digging up history; three of them are back again for the third or fourth time. And we even have a college student who is finding out that history can be more fun than computers. From left are Jacob Wysopal, Becky Moore, Jim Cawley and Isabel Plowright. Thanks again.... and again.... and again.


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5-14jean.jpg - 19773 Bytes We even had two very important people getting their hands in the dirt today. Dave Pancake our Secretary and a founding Director was digging into Hampshire County's past and Jean Kesner, the chairperson of our School Program Committee, had to get her hands dirty to keep from getting rusty. Hmm... most things get rusty from being in the dirt. Keep up the good work, you two!


Go to: May 15th report

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