Friday, July 10, 2009

Blacksmith Shop: Preliminary Results

Yesterday, a blog reader asked about our findings at the Blacksmith Shop area that we excavated in June. The artifacts from that area are waiting to be washed, analyzed, and cataloged so I can only report some preliminary findings.

One of our reasons for wanting to find the blacksmith shop that was located just north of the Burch House is that it is depicted on several of our late 19th century maps. There are no surviving maps of Port Tobacco prior to this time and many versions of these maps are mainly based on one map which was based on memory. An exception is the 1892 Paige Survey of the town, a survey that seems to accurately represent the roads of Port Tobacco but not the buildings as the buildings are not to scale. When these maps are all compared to each other there are many discrepancies in both the number and locations of buildings.

This blacksmith shop was depicted in 3 slightly different places on 3 different maps. We used our shovel test pit data to identify two probable locations of the shop, based on the recovery of metal and slag from those test pits. Our first location was at the base of the slope up to Chapel Point Road. Our second location was about 50 feet west of that first location.

Excavation in the first area revealed a large amount of clay fill from the construction of Chapel Point Road. If there was a building here the road construction has destroyed any evidence of it. Excavation in the second area turned up a large amount of metal and slag in five 5X5 units. These units had very complex stratigraphy with interweaving deposits of silt and gravel. This slowed excavation to a snail's pace. Just as our allocated time for finding the blacksmith shop had come to an end, Allison made a discovery. What appeared to be another gravel deposit started to reveal foundation remnants. We had hit a foundation in the corner of the last unit we excavated.

So, we have just touched the edge of the blacksmith shop but we have not revealed the foundation to any extent to 1) Be sure it is the blacksmith shop and 2) evaluate the types of blacksmithing that may have occurred there. Once the artifacts have been cataloged we may have some insight into #2 but both questions will remain unanswered until Jim and his crew return to the area for more excavation in October.


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