Hello everyone following and reading! We wrapped up pretty easy yesterday thanks to all of the students’ hard work on Thursday. We have been battling rain as most of you know (and if you live in the area, you’re battling it pretty much everywhere) and when faced with the potential for really bad rain, it makes planning in the field extra important at the close of a project. Since we were down so far in the moat trench, we feared a collapse in the walls from heavy rain and soggy soils.
We were weighing in on what the last two days would bring, and what tasks were still needed to accomplish to wrap up all documentation of the site. There was really one major important task left: cleaning the walls of the moat trench so we can see all the bands of clay, silt, loam and sand, getting photos and mapping it all in. Without a map and photos, no one would be able to study the moat and how it filled in through time. Knowing this is extremely important to our understanding of how the people at St. Giles managed the moat, used it to throw trash into, cleaned it out from time to time to keep it deep and defensive, and how it was used during the site abandonment phase.
Did they push the palisade into it and other parts of buildings when they got the property cleaned up for sale? Did a lot of trash and refuse wind up in the trench? Seeing the kinds of artifacts in relation to the bands of soil helps us find answers to these questions.
The students worked hard and got the walls of the 30’foot long trench cleaned up perfectly, the photos turned out great and we got out of the field pretty late. I remember volunteering years ago to recover important artifacts and document features for the sake of the science, and wrapping up by pulling the car up to work by headlights as it got dark. We didn’t have to do that this time!
Yesterday the students drew excellent maps of the walls, capturing all of the soil deposition within the moat. All units were backfilled. All gear cleaned up and transported back to The Charleston Museum and the College of Charleston. Thanks to both entities for allowing us to use their equipment!!!
This last week we had a few important discoveries. Besides finding the fourth and final corner of the building (I still don’t want to call it a “house” yet until I’ve had a chance to digest the artifacts found in and around it) defined by brick piers and the chimney found in 2009, we found evidence of the north, west and south walls of the building defined by a possible cellar found in 2011. Last field school we found a wall trench on the north side of the cellar feature, but we didn’t have time to find other parts of it or a corner. This year, Nicole Isenbarger worked diligently on a unit next to that wall trench, hoping to find more of it and to see if it turned south. Sure enough, she identified not only the same feature from 2011 but another wall trench with postholes in it that creates a northwest corner of the building!!! We have successfully identified two buildings now! Not only did we find this corner, but Jon Marcoux’s students found a clearly defined south side to the cellar feature, and with another unit south of it, we found a wall trench that defines the south wall of the building. The sample from the cellar feature shows potential evidence of a fire event from heavy charcoal remains, maybe the burning of the building above the cellar? I’ll be working to figure this out over the next year, so stay tuned!
The College of Charleston students also found the inside edge of the moat we tested in the northern part of the site. This area of the moat is more shallow than what we saw in the big trench on the south side of the site, and had a very different depositional history too. It is similar but will provide more answers to our understanding of this site as a fortified settlement. This kind of site is one of a kind, we don’t ever get the chance to dig a site knowing we’re “inside” or “outside” of a fortified wall supported by cannons. I look forward to telling the story of this amazing place and hopefully can interpret the ways the inhabitants of St. Giles Kussoe dealt with living in a fort.
We also found something else that might be the most important thing discovered at the site so far. It might even be more important than the moat. I have not had the time to understand this new discovery, and have not had the chance to place it into context with everything we have found so far. It will take some time to figure out, and I really won’t know what it truly means until the artifacts have been processed and compared with the rest of the settlement. While we’re trying to put as much as we can on this blog page, we can’t divulge EVERYTHING!!!
I will be giving a public lecture at Charles Towne Landing on August 20 and my topic will be on the Lord Ashley site. I’ll review the last two seasons to lead into what we found this year. If I can figure it out in time, I’ll reveal this new and exciting discovery then! When on my first field school in 1997, Martha Zierden told us all that “the coolest thing all season happens on the last day.” Almost all of the time, it is true. I don’t know if its a cosmic alignment kind of thing, or the fact that we get down the deepest in our units and features at the end of a project, or that’s just how archaeology is. All I know is that it happened this time, and it’s more than just one artifact or simple discovery. It’s something that involves soil, stratigraphy, artifacts, and site history. It involves activity during the site occupation and possibly helps define the site abandonment, it even might help us understand how the moat functioned and how it was managed.
My talk will be at Founder’s Hall across the parking lot from the Visitors Center at Charles Towne Landing August 20, at 6:30 pm. Please come and learn first hand about what we’ve found out this year, see more pictures and hang out and ask questions! I’ll post some more pics of this year’s dig as the weekend goes on.
Thanks again for following! I hope everyone has learned something and enjoyed.