Features, features everywhere, and Artifact of the Day for May 16th, 2023

We are starting to run out of excavation time, just when things are starting to get interesting. We are rotating crew over to BcGn-28 to excavate with the Archaeological Liaison trainees, so the burden has fallen on those who are remaining!

We have many units down below the plough zone into subsoil where we can see features. Features are evidence of activity, and in our case are popping up as linear arrangements of rocks, cedar planking, dark stains in the soil, and concentrations of mortar or other artifactual material. In a Stage 3 excavation, which was conducted at this site during the 2009 field school, once you locate a feature, you basically describe it and then stop excavating.

Now we are doing a Stage 4 excavation, which not only has excavation units four times as large as the 1x1s of a Stage 3, but also has more elaborate instructions for how to handle features. Ideally we would be opening up all the units in a 2m buffer around each feature, but we won’t have time for that this season. So, some of the features might have to wait until we return and can do a proper job of understanding them. In the meantime though, that means we have lots of documentation going on site including unit forms, planning, and photography.

Lots of excavation and drawing plans on site today!
All the units with blue tarps in them are paused as they have features that need to be dealt with, and the unit to the lower right has a feature that might be a continuation of our drain possibly?

We ended the day a bit early as rain was threatening. It’s looking like tomorrow will be back to the cool temps like our first week!

Today’s artifact of the day was a bit of an old friend, and the first coin found on BcGn-17 this season! Mel and Jada found an 1852 Half-Penny token in their unit. I won’t go over all the details again of this artifact, as there are two blog posts already here and here from when we found two at our 2017 and 2018 field schools.

At the time these tokens were used for currency, Ontario was known as “Canada West”.

Quick pic in the field
And a picture with a scale in the lab.

The obverse of this coin has the coat of arms for Upper Canada, which was in use from 1792 to 1840, already obsolete by the time these tokens were issued!

The Great Seal of Upper Canada (1896 depiction from Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto with some idiosyncratic spelling!)

Upon the creation of Upper Canada a seal for the province was authorized by royal warrant dated 28 March 1792. The obverse was described as ‘the Calumet [North American Indigenous pipe] of Peace with the Anchor and Sword of State encircled by a Crown of Olives’. Above this is a representation of the royal crown. In the upper right hand was the Union Jack, on the seal of 1817 replaced by the new Union Jack of 1801 with the St. Patrick’s Cross. Below are two cornucopia in saltire.

Motto: IMPERI . PORRECTA . MAJESTAS . CVSTODE . RERVM . CAESARE (The greatness of the empire is extended under the guardianship of the Sovereign)

Legend: SIGIL . PROV . NOS . CAN . SUP (Seal of Our province of Upper Canada).

Our coin came from the unit where the possible cedar planking is, perhaps we are getting ever closer to locating a structure. It is in medallic alignment, so we know from this it had to have been struck at the Royal Mint in London instead of at Heaton’s Mint in Birmingham. 1 500 000 were minted in 1852, and we know where three of them are now!

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