The Fiske Center Blog

Weblog for the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Munroe Tavern: What We Found


The most common question that visitors to the site asked was whether we had found anything, and, if so, what?  Looking at the boxes in the lab on Friday made it clear that we’ve found a lot. 

We divide the kinds of things that we find into two major categories: artifacts and features.  Artifacts are the things that everyone thinks of – the buttons, piece of pottery, remains of bottles, and so on.  Features are things that we can’t pick up and take with up back to the lab but are equally important.  Features at Munroe Tavern included the brick and tile drains and conduits that carried water from the well and the former kitchen through the brick trough that we are postulating was a flushing privy of sorts.  You can see this system in the overhead photo posted last week.  Features also can be less structural; the hole that was dug in order to build the well is itself a feature.  (To dig a deep well, like the one at Munroe Tavern, you first dig a much larger hole that gets smaller as it gets further down.  As you build up the well itself, you fill back in the large hole around the well.) We excavated a good sample of this feature, and the artifacts in this backfill around the well help to date the well.

The artifacts in the backfill around the well are mostly large pieces of redware, the most common 18th and early 19th-century ceramic type.  Redware could be heavy and coarse or thinner and more refined and was used to make mugs, chamber pots, storage jars, tea pots, milk pans, colanders, and all sorts of common kitchen items.  We have a good collection of these from the well backfill, many in large pieces that can be reconstructed into vessels.  The photo above is from two mending pieces of a milk pan.  Some pieces are decorated with white slip designs.  Redware itself is hard to date because it didn’t change much, but we also found a more diagnostic ceramic in the same feature.  There were a few fragments of creamware, a type that wasn’t produced until the 1760s, in the same fill.  The presence of the creamware tells us that the feature was formed after the 1760s (i.e., the well was dug sometime after that time), but not too long after because other later types were absent.

We also found a collection of mid-19th century artifacts, especially glass, from the time the ell was in use. Artifacts from this time period include a few children’s toys: the glass eye from a doll and a miniature tea pot.

Finally, there are a few other photos of artifacts in the Lexington Patch story, posted here:



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