Job Lane House Archaeological Dig, 2014

Participants and leaders in the 2014 archaeological dig at the Job Lane Farm Museum on North Road - Image (c) Bob Bass, 2014 all rights reserved
Participants and leaders in the 2014 archaeological dig at the Job Lane Farm Museum on North Road – Image (c) Bob Bass, 2014 all rights reserved

Submitted by Pat Pellegrini for the Friends of Job Lane House

Recently the Friends of the Job Lane House (Friends) conducted their second summer archaeological dig for children ages 10-13 through the Bedford Recreation Department. They studied two pits behind the house and shed adjacent to last year’s excavation. Dig leaders Don Corey and Ralph Hammond removed the sod ahead of time and delivered the necessary equipment. Six children formed two crews who did the digging and made the discoveries: Vincent Canciello, Alex Doherty, Mathew Forman, Aiden McEachern, TJ Mead, and Paris Stone. Paris, TJ, and Vincent were veterans from last year’s dig. Friends’ volunteers Judy Barber and Patricia Pellegrini along with Bedford High School senior, Hunter Jarvis, recorded, bagged and labeled the artifacts. Everyone participated in identifying artifacts.

Images (c) Bob Bass, 2014 all rights reserved

Students used a surveying level, tripod, and measuring tape to determine the exact location of each site from two fixed ledge points in the backyard: Pit I, behind the shed; and Pit II, behind the kitchen. Crew members selected their own teams and their own grid locations within the two pits. While having lots of fun finding each artifact, students also learned the basics of archaeological procedure such as: the importance of maintaining site boundaries according to the established grid; giving proper attention to site layer and level control; and noting any changes in soil composition.

Each morning began with a brief discussion. Ralph Hammond talked about digs at Troy, Jamestown, and Plymouth. Don Corey borrowed some stone tools from the Bedford Historic Society and explained how they would have been used by Native Americans centuries ago and precisely where they were found in Bedford. After a number of pottery fragments were found, Pat Pellegrini talked briefly about early porcelain and even earlier trenchers. (Pewter was saved for another time.)

Baking dish found in the excavation - image (c) Jeannette Pothier
Baking dish found in the excavation – image (c) Jeannette Pothier

The day after the Pit I crew found a very old tin pie plate Jeannette Pothier stopped by to tell about how women would have baked savory pies in such tins in a beehive oven. (Sugar was usually too precious to be used in pies.) In general, all participants learned more about how archaeology supports historic interpretations of how people lived. A few participants shared stories of having visited historically important archaeological excavations. Vincent Canciello shared some memories of having visited the site at Jamestown for example. Following such discussions each day, everybody went to work enthusiastically facing the unknown.

When artifacts were found they were identified, labeled for grid location and level, bagged, and numbered in sequence for each pit. Although nothing particularly important was found this year, artifacts included such items as hand-made nails, window & bottle glass fragments, a few animal bones, brick fragments, roofing pieces, and assorted pottery shards.

The most interesting finds were the old tin pie plate, half of a horse-shoe, and a porcelain pearl ware shard for which the particular pattern will require further research. (Last year the pattern on one piece of pearl ware dated from c.1740- 1785.) The collective bags will be stored at the JLH.

Adults involved with the project were particularly impressed with the intellectual and social skills of the students. Everyone shared, supported, and assisted each other when needed. Everyone was kind and respectful. Their camaraderie and enthusiasm was contagious. Children and adults learned from each other. Most of all everyone had fun.

Ralph Hammond wrote the archaeological report which each participant will get. Other report copies will be stored at the Job Lane House, the Bedford Historical Society, and the Bedford Public Library.

The Friends of the Job Lane House would like to remind the public that guided tours of the house at 295 North Road are available on the second and fourth Sundays from May through October between 2:00 and 4:00 pm. Lee Yates offers activities for children in the barn on the second Sunday of each month from 2:00 to 4:00. A donation of $4 per person/ $10 per family is gratefully accepted for House Tours. Children’s activities are free. Volunteers and new members are welcome at all times.


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