Posted by: signalhillarchaeology | July 21, 2009

Mystery Solved?!?!?!

Last week was very productive at the North Range Barrack site. We found not only
one, but two middens on both sides (east and west) of the “mystery” stone
structure. For those interested in artefacts, Amanda should be preparing a post
shortly with the coolest finds so far. Today I will discuss that “mysterious”
stone structure.

The extent of the stone feature, as of this afternoon... We have had as many theories as we have excavators!

The extent of the stone feature, as of this afternoon... We have had as many theories as we have excavators!

It all started with a trip to the library on Sunday evening (OK…I know…it’s
not the coolest place to hang out on a weekend…). Anyhow, I was looking for
references on British military buttons and shako plates. One of my friends
(merci Jacynthe!) suggested the Parks Canada publication on Fort Lennox at
l’Ile-aux-Noix in Québec.

Aha! Ahaaaa!  This looks just like what we've found, and the dimensions are similar too.  Just goes to show you that a Sunday spent in the library is a Sunday well-spent...

Aha! Ahaaaa! This looks just like what we've found, and the dimensions are similar too. Just goes to show you that a Sunday spent in the library is a Sunday well-spent... (Image Credit: The Archaeology of Fort Lennox, by Norman F. Barka, Parks Canada)

Flipping through the images of the 1964 excavation directed by Norman Barka, I found an almost exact match to the stone feature we discovered. They interpreted this structure as the foundation of a chimney.

As far as we can tell right now, it is almost the same size, and the mode of construction is very similar. Both are constructed of large roughly-hewn stones and mortar, with the exterior and surface of the base made of coursed stones, while the interior is essentially rubble fill.

Now we need to solve the problem of where we are in that building. If this is
the foundation of the single chimney on the south end of the building, then it
leaves the question as to where is the foundation of the building itself.  It
could also be the foundation of a double chimney and we could be in the middle
of the building. It also makes us wonder if the retaining wall that appeared on
the edge of the cliff in the east end of trench B could actually be the
foundation of the barracks building. Then there is the question of why there
was so much garbage next to the chimney foundation…Very large cracks in the
floor boards? Dirty soldiers?

A very, very small sample of the discarded food remains (mammal and fish bones, mostly) that we found beside the fireplace foundation. Must have been a smelly spot to live!

A very, very small sample of the discarded food remains (mammal and fish bones, mostly) that we found beside the fireplace foundation. Must have been a smelly spot to live!

Hopefully, the two new trenches we just opened will shed light on these
questions. We are also considering opening a 1m square on the east end of
trench B in order to see how the “retaining” wall (or barracks structure foundation) is
built on its exterior side. We are about mid-season and we still have a lot of
work to do…We will know more about that structure as we continue the
excavation of the new trenches, so keep coming back!
And if anybody out there have suggestions on the interpretation of that stone
structure, go ahead and leave us a note in the comments!

–Stéphane Noël (Staff)

(Amanda notes: Stéphane, I think you’re right on this one… I’ll buy you a beer on Friday!!)

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Sounds bang-on. So you probably are in the interior of the barracks rather than the south end, and the ‘retaining wall’ could be the foundation. As for the garbage, see my earlier comment about the Fort Edward blockhouse – just a thought. Perhaps this was part of refurbishments for the building after the 1830s. Glad to see you’re going ‘over the wall!’
    Can you estimate where the south end wall would be from the floor plan and try a small test there too? I’m aching to see all this stuff. Cheers,
    Rob

    • Rob, I’m glad you agree. I think it’s a great explanation– and as we were all debating it in the field, I remembered your post about the blockhouse. We were also debating the ‘midden’ deposits today, and thought that they looked midden-y rather than fill-y… there’s small incremental changes in the stratigraphy which look (at least in places) like the deposits accrued gradually. All the artifacts and small stones are laying flat, rather than flat, upright, diagonal, and higgledy-piggledy that I’ve seen associated with deliberate dumping during a fill episode.

      But that’s just a qualitative judgement, and it could well be that the site was re-furbished after the 1830’s. I’d bet you’re right, if I was a betting woman (and I am, heh). We’re coming down on similar deposits not far away, and we’ll be looking for any and all evidence to see if we can figure out how and exactly when this rich deposit accumulated.

      As for opening up another test at the far end of the structure– that’s definitely on the to-do list, if we don’t run out of time!! Right now we’ve got to get through the remaining 1-x-4 trenches that we’ve opened, and dig a small 1-x-1 to confirm that the ‘retaining wall’ is actually the foundation wall of the building. If all this gets done and we have time, you’d better believe we’ll go chasing the south wall of the structure!! I’m dying to see it too 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: