Digging for history – again

Written by Administrator
 | Tuesday, 22 September 2009 20:34

A couple of years ago, Duxbury Rural and Historical Society volunteers were digging up a flower bed outside the King Caesar House when they discovered pottery from the 1820’s.

Since then, Executive Director Patrick Browne has wanted to see if there were any more hidden treasures underneath the grass at the former Weston estate. But it wasn’t until last fall’s archeological dig at the site of Duxbury’s second meetinghouse that Browne felt he had the know-how to begin an excavation of his own.

“I thought there might be more of that stuff,” he said.

Last October, archeologist Craig Chartier of the Plymouth Archeology Rediscovery Project led a group of volunteers in a dig off Chestnut Street. The object was to discover, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the location of the town’s second meetinghouse. Dozens of workers dug pits and trenches, and sifted through piles of dirt. Browne, who has been involved in several smaller digs in the past, said he learned a lot from that project, and thought he could apply it to the King Caesar House.

There are very few original items in the King Caesar House, which has been maintained as a museum by the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society since the 60’s. Most of the furniture and decor are reproductions.

The back part of the house has been torn up for various expansions of the house and the installation of the septic system, Browne said, but the front lawn has been basically undisturbed for the last 100 years.

A DR&HS volunteer scoured the area in front of the house with a metal detector, and marked any potential hits with pink flags.

“They could be nails, they could be coins, they could be anything,” Browne said.

Other volunteers divided up the lawn into a grid and began cutting squares out of the sod for test pits –– a process that proved more difficult that originally thought.

“That’s what 100 years of groundskeeping will get you,” said Browne.

The King Caesar dig is on a much smaller scale than the Chestnut Street project, although volunteer interest has been high. Browne says he doesn’t expect to find the same amount of artifacts unearthed as the meetinghouse dig. But he hopes that in travels between the house and the wharf buildings, once located on what is now Bumpus Park, workers or Weston family members will have dropped something that will shed some light on the estate’s history.

“Every single day King Caesar was going back and forth between the house and the wharf,” Browne said. “If we find any scraps or artifacts we can date back to the Westons, I’ll be happy.”