This subtle difference suggested that we had come down on a feature, one dug deep into the earth. It didn't have any artifacts in it that we could see, but then only a few square inches had been exposed, and there were very few artifacts in neighboring shovel tests. It was a deeply dug cultural feature with few associated artifacts. If it were a structural post hole or cellar hole suggesting a dwelling, we would have expected a fair number of Colonial or early 19th-century artifacts. We hypothesized, therefore, that it was part of a graveshaft that we had encountered, even though none were known to have existed in this area (a community cemetery existed throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries on the north side of town, buried in sediment).
During the field session, Scott Lawrence led a small band of intrepids in the excavation of a 5 ft square near STP 150, traces of which could still be detected on the surface. That unit exposed what I thought was a plowscar and then, after excavation, appeared to me to be a tire rut in the otherwise undisturbed subsoil. Two additional units, however, exposed three partial and one entire graveshaft. The plowscar/tire rut more likely is a paling fence ditch, a shallow trench in which a boundary fence was erected (see drawing and photograph below).
Our discovery has more importance than learning about where an early cemetery was located (although that is pretty important). It also narrows down our search for the 1680s to 1709 Anglican church at Port Tobacco, a framed structure that, based on the large pieces of burned daub found in those three excavation units, is nearby and probably of earthfast construction.
We expect to eventually expose and map the entire cemetery, as well as excavate the church when we find it. There are no plans to excavate any of the graves. Detailed archival research should help us more accurately date the church and cemetery.