Saybrook Fieldwork Underway

Efforts Underway in Saybrook!

Noah Fellman, Archaeological Consultant 

DSC03445We have begun fieldwork in attempts to identify the site of Lion Gardiner’s Fort, constructed in 1635, utilized throughout the Pequot War, finally burning in 1647. 

The process of archaeology, an inherently destructive science, leaves any area investigated without its original integrity.  Thus, it is essential to record as much data as possible while the site is excavated.  Each recovered artifact requires a record, including its location and attributes; what it is, where it comes from, and its below-surface depth.  This allows the site to be recreated in the coming months and years, long after all the artifacts have been removed from the ground.

Cartesian Coordinates

Cartesian Coordinates

The first phase of archaeological fieldwork involves the establishment of a localized Cartesian grid, which will help designate provenience (location) for artifacts.  This is done by creating a grid file in a computer geo-referenced to a recognized Geographic Coordinate System such as Latitude/Longitude, UTM, or Connecticut State Plane, and exporting it to a Geographical Positioning System (GPS).  The GPS can then, in turn, be used to find any point on the grid in real space.  Once this point is established, a total station (electronic theodolite) is set up on the point and used to place plastic grid stakes denoting other gridline intersections to further define the grid in real space.  The result is a giant “fishnet” cast across the entire project area, which can be used to reference the location of any artifact discovered in the course of the survey. 

Once the grid is in place, geophysical testing is conducted across the landscape in order to identify any potential soil features or anomalies.  Saybrook Fort included a large ditch, palisade, and blockhouse among other features, and while these long ago decayed or filled in, they may have left a light but lasting footprint in the surrounding soils.  “Footprints” in soil profiles can be found using non-invasive means, like electrical resistivity or ground penetrating radar.

Currently, we are using limited metal detection to better define the material culture distributed across the landscape.  With hundreds of years of land use post-dating Saybrook Fort, the amount of metallic objects distributed across Saybrook Point is vast. Identifying artifacts specific to the 17th century occupation of Saybrook Fort poses one of the most significant challenges to our project. 

dataset-electrical-resistivity-03  An example of an electrical resistivity dataset.