Friday, July 30, 2010

Potty Mouth: Archeological Find at Clermont

Clermont has been a busy place for the past few weeks as we were granted some special attention from our state maintenance crews. Much-needed work has been completed on pathways, utility buildings, and inside the mansion.

At right you can see our Master Plasterer Scott Pulver drilling holes into the ceiling of the Sewing Room (image removed). These holes were then injected with a substance that re-adhered failing plaster to the ceiling before being re-filled and plastered over. This laborious process not only repaired the damage done by a leak in 2008, but also preserved the historic plaster underneath. Wow!

But while work was being done in some previously-excavated areas, our work crews happened upon a few archeological finds. They were kind enough to preserve them for us: a few thick pieces of green glass, a wine glass base, an oyster shell, and several pieces of blue ceramic (shown below).

There was much speculation around the office about the interesting bits and pieces. What were they from?

We were then paid a visit by the State archeology team last Wednesday as they dug test pits near Clermont Cottage to prepare for future restoration work on that building. While the crew was here, we took the opportunity to pack our archeological finds off with them.

The wine bottles were indeed 18th century, as we had guessed, and here's what archeologist Paul Huey had to say about the blue ceramic sherds:

Fragments of an engine-turned and decorated pearlware chamber pot, originally with a rim diameter of 8.5 inches, dating ca. 1780 to 1820.

“Several fragments of pearlware are from an engine-turned and decorated pearlware chamber pot. It would date from between about 1780 and 1820, and the diameter of the rim was originally 8.5 inches. Pearlware with the same inlaid rouletted checkering pattern were excavated at the site of Fort Watson in South Carolina, occupied in 1780 and 1781. Examples of this type of ware were also excavated in a privy pit at McKnight’s Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia, filled about 1810, according to Ivor Noël Hume.”

Such a nice dovetail with our earlier post about bathrooms at Clermont! There you have the pre-plumbing indoor bathroom neatly unearthed in our back yard.

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