Evidence of Enslaved Africans and their Descendants
Life and Death on a South Carolina Plantation
The history of enslaved Africans goes back to the early days of the South Carolina colony. Enslaved Africans at Drayton Hall worked in many specific capacities as coopers, blacksmiths, carpenters, boatmen, and domestic workers; archaeological evidence indicates that many were also skilled potters. Enslaved Africans brought with them a rich ceramic history and when the Africans were enslaved side-by-side with Native Americans in the North American colonies, a new ceramic tradition referred to by archaeologists as "Colonoware" was created. Drayton Hall has a large and diverse collection of Colonoware vessels that may indicate that at least some of these vessels were being produced on-site. In addition to ceramic materials made and used by enslaved peoples at Drayton Hall, archaeologists have also investigated the burial ground for the enslaved and their descendants. While archaeologists have been investigating where the enslaved housing was on the Drayton Hall property, the location of these homes currently remains unknown.
|Colonoware is found in high concentrations around Drayton Hall and the flanker buildings. Used to cook for English and African diners, this type of earthenware ceramic was made by enslaved Africans, using traditional African methods.|
|These three vessels in the bottom of this photograph are also examples of Colonoware recovered at Drayton Hall through archaeological excavations. The three bowls all have flat bottoms demonstrating a European influence and a new vessel form for the enslaved African potters. The vessel in the center is decorated with a "pie-crust rim" reminiscent of the rim treatment on English Staffordshire combed slipware vessels of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.|
|Enslaved Africans and their descendants who spent the entirety of their lives on the Drayton properties are buried at the cemetery that is located about 100 feet from Drayton Hall's main drive. This sacred area is historically referred to as a "burying ground," likely used originally for enslaved peoples as early as the 1790s when it was identified on a map of this period. In the fall of 2008 archaeological excavations were conducted to locate additional grave shafts and it is now known where at least 40 of the burials are located.|