Sunday, July 14, 2013

ARCHAEOLOGY CELEBRATES A STATE PARK IN CONNECTICUT, USA

Norwalk Community College archeology professor Ernie Wiegand recently led a dig at the site of the house of the Sherwood's, now a state park in Connceticut. The house stood until the 1940s, but little is left of it today. “This land was a wedding present for Daniel Sherwood,” Wiegand said, adding that the original home was erected in 1789, when George Washington was in his first term.

The professor, assisted by a few of his former students, spent the last two weeks painstakingly removing soil and stone at what used to be the front stoop. A backhoe, more indelicately, dug a larger hole near what used to be the center of the home.

For his trouble, he unearthed about a dozen bottles and jars, mostly from the 1930s to the 1950s. Other artifacts were much older, however. The was a handmade nail from the late 1700s, and there were some Native American objects that may have been more than 400 or 500 years old. There were some shards of pottery that dated from the late 1700s, too.

The Sherwood home is a little inland from the present-day entrance booths to the park. The family farmed the surrounding acres for decades, and oysters provided additional income. But, as with many farms in the Northeast, the opening of the rail lines to the Midwest meant that the days were numbered for the Sherwood operation.

After research is complete, the soil will be returned from where it came and the site will look just like it did before the dig began; that is, a grassy glade.

Cece Saunders, of the Friends of Sherwood Island State Park, said that the dig is but the first of many events that will take place to mark the creation of the state park system in 1913. Still, the park didn’t officially open for another 20 years. “It’s a true Westport story,” Saunders said. “There was a Mr. Gair, a tycoon who lived nearby, who didn’t want the public to visit here. He fought the park any and every way he could.”
Today, 500,000 people visit the park every year, she said.

Cece Saunders is the co-founder of the Archaeological Associates of Greenwich (the AAG) with Nancy Bernard, the author of this BLOG!

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