Sunday, September 28, 2008

Church Orientation

First, for those of you expecting a blog Saturday, I posted something Pete had written. Unfortunately, it shows up under Thursday, the day he drafted it. Sorry about that.

As we explore further the possibility of finding the Colonial period Anglican church that likely was associated with the recently discovered cemetery, I've been thinking about what we might find and what it might look like. Last Sunday I suggested that there were two areas--northeast and southeast of the cemetery--where shovel test data collected last year revealed possible building locations. Interestingly, the long axes of the clusters of architectural debris are oriented east-west. This is the same orientation of the 1886 Episcopal Church and it is in keeping with the Christian tradition. Ideally the altar would be at the east end of the church, the direction from which the sun/the Son will rise. Of course, that wasn't the case for the 1886 Episcopal Church, its altar being at the west end of the building.

I think we are looking for earthfast construction, which is to say, postholes and not brick footers or piers. I think it was heated with a wattle and daub fireplace, although it may have had a brick fireback. The amount of brick recovered from the area could indicate a brick chimney and fireplace and it is possible that brick replaced an original wattle and daub arrangement. That would be evident in an excavation that exposed significant portions of the building.

We have not recovered much window glass and none of the lead cames--the crisscross lead supports that held triangular panes in place--that would suggest glazed windows. Testing in the area, however, has been limited to shovel tests at 25 ft intervals and the three 5 ft by 5 ft units that exposed the graves and fence ditch. We need a larger sample.

As to the kinds of non-architectural artifacts that we might find around the church, that is hard to predict. Certainly the team at St. Mary's City has recovered tobacco pipes, religious medals, and a variety of ceramics, bottle glass, and other domestic artifacts near the Chapel Site, but much of that material may be related to the nearby Priests' House Site. We haven't yet searched the literature for comparable sites, so I will forgo any predictions about artifacts.


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