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Treasures from the “Trash”

Posted by Chris Surber, Educator


It’s safe to say that I am not the most experienced person when it comes to archaeology.  The only experience I had ever had with archaeology was a fifth grade field trip where I went out to the Watchung Reservation in New Jersey and participated in an education program similar to the “Dig This” program at Drayton Hall.  Though it was nearly fifteen years ago, it was a very memorable event in my life and I’ll never forget the fun I had that day.  This week, with the archaeological dig around the flanker building beginning again, I had a chance to have a similar experience.


Chris Surber holds the iron hinge recently uncovered from around Drayton Hall's north flanker.

Chris Surber holds the iron hinge recently uncovered during excavations around Drayton Hall's north flanker.

On Friday, March 13th I had the to opportunity to help Sarah Stroud, Dr. Carter Hudgins, and several interns continue their dig around the foundation of one of the flanker buildings that once stood on either side of Drayton Hall.  We spent the day digging in what Sarah called a “trash midden,” but what we found seemed like anything but trash.  Sifting through the dirt, we found buttons, a variety of stoneware, sherds of different ceramics, scraps of metal, something that looked like a hinge from a door, and many animal bones.  One of the most exciting moments was when we uncovered a piece of Delft tile similar to what would have been in the fireplace surrounds inside the main house at Drayton Hall.


During my day spent assisting with the archaeological dig I was surprised by the amount and variety of artifacts we uncovered.  These artifacts helped to give a firsthand look at what life was like and what materials were being used at Drayton Hall during the eighteenth century.  This is a case where the old saying really does apply, their trash is our treasure.


See additional images of the current excavation on Flickr