A most overdue update

Hello all trusty followers of this blog! I have been extremely busy the last three years but they have all been spent mostly devoted to not just the Lord Ashley site but the entirety of St Giles Kussoe and its 12,000 acres.

I applied for graduate school to pursue a PhD in Anthropology to a few different universities and wound up going back to the University of South Carolina. I earned my Master’s degree there in 2004 and thanks to all of the new faculty (and even a new building for the Anthropology Department), it feels like a different department. My coursework started with the Fall 2015 semester and I’m happy to say that I just completed my two years of required classes and should be raised to Candidacy early this coming fall semester!

I went to USC to get much deeper into not just the Lord Ashley site but the First Earl of Shaftesbury and his relationship with John Locke. From this, the site is not the primary focus of my dissertation but just one important element of my research. I am exploring the ways enslaved Africans contributed to Carolina’s agricultural origins and I’m pursing this topic in ways no one has ever attempted before. From this, I hope to come to a better understanding of how plantations originated in Carolina. To address this research I am comparing the Lord Ashley site with three 1670s-era archaeological components at Charles Towne Landing. Rather than utilize just the artifacts we find, like ceramics, glass, nails, beads, etc., I am focusing on the archaeobotanical record at these sites.

IMG_8107I have not only been in school, I have been giving papers in many different places, conferences and venues. In July 2015 I attended the Shaftesbury Project in Dorset, England, where it was hosted by the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury at the Ashley Cooper ancestral home St Giles’s House in Wimborne. It was a very scholarly, very intense conference and I was lucky to present on our archaeology project! After the two-day scholars’s conference there was a Public Day on Saturday that featured two round table discussions and a fantastic landscape tour led by Suzannah Flemming.

Conference attendees stayed in Cranborne Chase, which was a large property the First Earl owned just outside of Wimborne in the 1670s (how fitting). We stayed in the town center of Cranborne in an inn that was built in, you guessed it, 1670! I couldn’t help but imagine the people during that long-ago decade traversing the streets I walked while there, all living under and working for Lord Shaftesbury. It was really cool knowing that I was sleeping in an inn that was serving its first patrons at literally the same time our first Carolinians landed at Albemarle Point and made it their home.

The conferenceIMG_8199 ended with myself and a few other presenters walking the mile from St Giles’s House to the fabled Philosopher’s Tower where the Third Earl of Shaftesbury spent much time philosophizing and gathering the ideas that produced one of the most important documents of the Enlightenment and for Philosophy in general: Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times. Although we did not get to go into this legendary tower, it was unreal standing below it and seeing the Shaftesbury family crest embossed on its outside wall.

Immediately following the three-day conference, I conducted archival research in Winchester and at St Giles’s House and its Muniment Room documents. I looked at many records and found some that no one had ever utilized in reference to Carolina before. A large amount of this information will be released in my dissertation and (hopefully) subsequent publications. The 2015 Shaftesbury Project conference is the basis of an edited volume that contains many of the presentations. My presentation paper was expanded greatly as a book chapter that will be published soon. My chapter focuses on Shaftesbury’s intent for the Indian trade that Henry Woodward ran out of St Giles Kussoe from early 1675 until he was banished from the plantation by summer 1680. Afterwards, Shaftesbury placed Andrew Percivall, St Giles Kussoe’s governor and manager, in charge of all Indian trade. We have only known some of the details about Shaftesbury’s, Woodward’s and Percivall’s roles in this trade here in Carolina and my chapter expands our knowledge considerably, especially in regards to the First Earl.

In Spring 2016 I presented on the Lord Ashley site and some of my research in England at the Archaeological Society for South Carolina’s annual conference, held in Columbia, South Carolina. In May, June and July I went back to the Lord Ashley site to excavate units around “Structure 3” to determine if it was a cabin for enslaved Africans. Our old friend Bob Welch helped me out almost every day and I managed to get three of my best undergraduate volunteers from USC down for a few days to help me out too. Nicole Isenbarger came in on my last few days to do some expert feature excavation. Analysis is still on going, but currently I think the Structure 3 area was a series of  buildings that were occupied and used during farm labor. This theory is being tested in my dissertation work so stay tuned to the blog for updates as I move forward!

Since then I have presented in the Charles Towne Landing Anthropology Lecture Series and gave a talk to the Summerville Historical Society. Lastly, I presented a paper coauthored by myself and team collaborator Jon Marcoux at the 50th annual Society for Historical Archaeology conference in Fort Worth, Texas in January 2017.

I just ran into the field to collect soil samples from 1670s components at Charles Towne Landing and the Lord Ashley site for phytolith analyses. Phytoliths are the fossilized remains of the cells that comprise things like the leaves of plants. These remains provide information on the locations of past plants. This information will allow me to interpret these sites in new and very important ways. Besides phytoliths, analysis is being conducted on the paleoethnobotanical remains from Structure 1 at Charles Towne Landing, which is a 1670s era building found in 2000. I worked for Stanley South and Michael Stoner on those excavations and while many artifacts were found and much was learned, the paleoethnobotanical samples were stabilized but never sent off for analyses. Seventeen years later I’m very excited to see the results and possibly learn even more about this early house!!

A whole lot is going on in the world of Lord Ashley site, St Giles Kussoe, and the First Earl of Shaftesbury. We’ll talk to you soon!


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