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South Berwick Summer Archaeology Field School 2014

South Berwick archaeologyARCHAEOLOGY 2014


The Old Berwick Historical Society and Dr. Neill De Paoli invite seacoast residents to join them in the picturesque Old Fields neighborhood of South Berwick, Maine. In summer 2014 the group will explore the former home, tavern and, possibly, the garrison of the families of Humphrey and Mary Spencer and Captain Ichabod and Elizabeth Goodwin. (click title to read mroe) 

They occupied the site from the late 17th century through the 18th century. For the last four seasons, archaeologists and volunteers have uncovered evidence of the Spencer-Goodwin home and tavern as well as personal belongings of the occupants and tavern goers. Field school participants will assist in continued excavation of the site, exploring not only the lives of the Spencer and Goodwin families but also the five African-American and Indian slaves who were owned by Captain Goodwin.

Since 2010, Neill De Paoli has directed archaeological investigations in the Old Fields “neighborhood” of South Berwick, Maine. This was the 17thcentury heart of the English farming, lumbering, and trading settlement of Newichawannock (alias Berwick) situated on the upper reaches of southern Maine’s Salmon Falls River. De Paoli has focused attention on a nine-acre privately-owned parcel that is home to the circa-1797 mansion of local luminary General Ichabod Goodwin. It is also the reputed site ofthe “garrison” of William Spencer and his nephew Humphrey Spencer from around 1690 until c. 1713. Unearthing archaeological evidence of this homestead, garrison, and their occupants would provide insight into life in Maine during the Anglo-Franco-Indian hostilities of the late 17thand early 18thcenturies, a period that remains poorly understood by historians and archaeologists.

This past season thearchaeologists uncovered further evidence of the Spencer-Goodwin homestead 25 feet south of the upper portion of the Spencer-Goodwin house and tavern. Excavation exposed a stone-walled cellar that measured roughly 13 by 13 feet. This structure was either a continuation of the Spencer-Goodwin home or an outbuilding. It is not yet clear when this part of the Spencer-Goodwin home was built. But the trash found inside the cellar indicated the building was abandoned sometime between. 1760 and 1778, possibly when General Ichabod Goodwin took ownership of the farmstead, home, and tavern soon after his father’s death in 1778.

The occupants of the Spencer-Goodwin home used the abandoned southern cellar of the homestead as a convenient dump for kitchen waste and household trash. Most of the cultural material found was 18thcentury ceramic tableware and clay smoking pipes. Previous finds include English, German, American, and Chinese earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain plates, drinking mugs and tankards, and bowls, and glass wine and case bottles and stemmed drinking glasses that once held meat, fish, and vegetable stews, and pottages and alcoholic beverages such as cider, ale, wine, gin, and rum.


The field school is open to upper level high school and to college students seeking hands-on experience in historical archaeology. Teachers in need of recertification credits and history buffs are also welcomed. Participants will learn basic archaeological excavation and recording techniques, laboratory procedures, and the identification of early Anglo-American material culture.

The program includes field trips to local 17th and 18th century Berwick landmarks and weekly films and discussions. Participants must be at least 16 years old. Field school participants may sign up for one or more of the three one-week field sessions: Session 1/July 7-11, Session 2/July 14-18, Session 3/July 21-25. Daily field school hours are 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM.

Fees are: One week $175, Two weeks $325, Three Weeks $475. Dr. Neill De Paoli has over 35 years of experience as a historical archaeologist and has directed archaeological projects and field schools in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. To enroll, please, or for more information about the dig or area accommodations contact Dr. Neill De Paoli at 207-703-2955. 

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