The Fiske Center Blog

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

Trenches galore at Gore Place


As week four at Gore Place continues, we find ourselves presented with yet another puzzle to sort out in the new trench. Last week we opened up a 2×8 trench comprising four units just to the east of our original trench. Shortly after removing the gravel and sod from the surface and shovel scraping down past a superficial gravel layer, a large patch of sandy soil in one of the units emerged and as more soil was removed from the rest of the trench, more of the sandy patch was revealed. It is now visible through nearly the entire length of the trench, save the easternmost unit, which has presented us with a nice cobbled surface. This seems to have been set up at the bottom of a slope made from the sandy soil, perhaps to hide it from the view of the Gores’ visitors as they came up the driveway. It’s possible that it was a work surface that they may have wanted to make as discreet as possible. Regardless, it’s clear that this surface was intentionally prepared when compared to the messy layer of destruction rubble in the westernmost unit, which was filled with broken mortar, brick, and rock.

Elizabeth and Danielle mapping the cobble surface.

Speaking of the westernmost unit, excavation has revealed a complicated set of soil changes intermingling with one another throughout the 2×2 square. This unit began with two separate soil contexts bisecting the space from east to west. The southern context revealed the continuation of the sandy patch found in the units to the east, while the northern context contained the rubble layer. At the bottom of the rubble, yet another context has appeared. Within that context, a large metal band of a circular shape has been excavated and looks to be a barrel hoop. More digging will doubtless provide the answers to our questions about this unit.

In the adjacent unit, Alison and Julia have been working hard to uncover a wall foundation running north to south made of brick and mortar with a base of field stones and flanked on either side by builder’s trenches. At first we thought that this might be a 20th century structure from the estate’s days as a golf course, but now it seems like it might actually be a 19th century wall after all, though most likely later in date than the original greenhouse. This unit has turned up numerous artifacts including a beautiful piece of 19th century factory made slipware.  Yesterday, we opened a unit off of the south wall of this unit to  follow the wall foundation out a little more. So far everything looks great!

Everyone at work in the second trench.

In addition, we’ve just opened a 2×4 trench to the southeast of the second trench where the GPR has indicated that a bulls-eye like structure should be located. The only way to found out exactly what lies beneath is to move some dirt. In the words of one of our fearless leaders Dave Landon, onward and downward!

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