Special Edition Day 9 May 16, 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 Nine - Is it a Bastion?
The ninth day of the dig began with the routine of more backhoe trenches along the format laid out yesterday. The backhoe continued to dig trenches out from the bluff on which the house sits toward the road. Remember, this is done with great care. Someone not only watches every scoop of the hoe, but then someone else checks what has come out of the trench to see if any artifacts can be found.
These two pieces are in the picture above.
Can you find them?
One of the ways of discovering metalic artifacts in the dirt that the backhoe has dug up is to use a metal detector. Jamie Lupton, a member of The Foundation and Director of another historic site, brought his metal detector to help us. Unlike many people who use metal detecting as a hobby, Jamie is using his skills here under the direction of the project director. None of the artifacts that Jamie finds end up in his own collection; the location where they are found is carefully marked with a flag and the item is given to Dr. McBride so it can be identified, cleaned and added to the collection. This way the integrity of the site is not destroyed by someone removing artifacts for their own personal collection. Many historic sites in Hampshire County have been destroyed and may never provide us the knowledge they once could because of careless and selfish relic collectors. West Virginia law provides for stiff penalties for people who collect artifacts on registered historic sites.
Features in Trenches
The backhoe trenches did reveal a number of features. This photo shows one of the trenches; the flags mark features that will be studied and mapped. Along side are small pictures of some of the types of features revealed. Some are post marks and others are items buried in the ground.
While the backhoe was doing its thing several crews were hard at work on STPs and larger 4'x4' probes. Today we had "standers", "bucket sitters," and our one "stool sitter."
Hoe, Hoe, Hoe
We also had a new tool in use today. Nothing high tech, just the common garden hoe. Kurt, our digging ball of fire, decided to try it today on the backhoe trenches to scrape smooth the rough bottom cut by the backhoe so any features could be seen.
One of the puzzles of the dig has been the randomness of some of the post marks. During the afternoon the backhoe dug a trench outside of Dr. Gardner's "stockade trench" were a random post had been found. It was an attempt to see of there were any other post marks outside the "stockade". Nothing turned up. The random post marks are still a mystery. (The black plastic covers the stockade trench from damage while a trench is dug alongside.)
The photo above shows the rocks protruding by Kurt's feet on the left and by Dr. McBride on the rigth. A similar configuration was found in the trench behind Dr. McBride. Then they noticed that there was a feature in the trench running away from the rocks. When they opened up a new trench to follow this feature they discovered something very unusual. There was a line running away from the stone foundation that made a sharp angle and turned back toward the other end of the foundation. (In the photo above that feature comes from Dr. McBride's feet toward the viewer and then turns back toward Kurt's feet on the left.)
The picture above shows Dr. McBride standing at the outer point of the feature. Its line runs from bottom center of the picture to Dr. McBride and then turns sharply and runs to Kurt on the right. The picture below has a red line drawn along side of the feature. Because of the angle of the camera it may look like a right angle but the angle is more approximately 60 degrees (estimate - not measured).
Around the middle of the day we made a wonderful discovery. As the backhoe was digging another trench it pulled up some rocks. That is nothing in itself, but as the hoe passed on it became obvious that the rocks had not been laying randomly in the ground. The walls of the trench showed rocks protruding out of the dirt in some kind of formation like a foundation. As the backhoe continued on it struck this type of formation again. This happened in two contiguous trenches.
At this time we can not say for sure what the feature is. It does not appear to have post marks, but we have not explored it in detail yet. However, there are not many things that have such an angle in them, and it is known that some later frontier forts were houses with bastions added to them. In any case, we have what appears to be a building we did not know about and a feature that looks suspiciously like a bastion. Stayed tuned for more news tomorrow!
Artifacts of the Day
The Artifacts of the Day were taken from the area of the new feature we found. They include (from upper right) a part of a pipe bowl, painted pearlware with a single decorative band (1780-1840), and two pieces of slip banded, cream ware in an unusual mocha pattern (1762-1820).
Volunteers of the Day
Our Volunteers of the Day
are Mark Lore, a long time member of The Foundation and also of the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society and Nancy Pfaff whom many of you recognize from the Capon Bridge Clinic. She is now on a new endeavor having started a foundation concerned with older agriculture practices and draft animals. Jake Wysopal was back again and Becky Moore not only did her after school stint, but she brought her students for a visit and left some wonderful cookies. As shown in photos above Jamie Lupton came to work in the afternoon.
Although he is not a volunteer, we owe a special thank you to Tracy Fitzgerald of Hampshire Home Builders. This is the gentleman who came to our rescue yesterday when our backhoe broke down. His backhoe was working nearby and he offered to come work for us. We have been impressed not only with his smile and wit but also with his expertise as a backhoe operator. Thanks again.
We have received numerous suggestions that we include among our volunteers a picture of one who has been on site for the entire project. Ms. Heidi Dog has become our project mascot. There is nothing like having someone to pet (or lick your face) during the drudgery of digging and sifting. Thanks to Heidi for all her loving attention.