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2004 Tyler Bastian Field Session in Maryland Archeology

Swan Cove Site (18AN934), Anne Arundel County
May 7 - May 17, 2004

Commentary on the field session or about the selected photos would be greatly appreciated. Contact John Fiveash if you have input for this page.

The site of the 2004 Tyler Bastian Annual Field Session in Maryland Archeology was held at Swan Cove in Anne Arundel County. This year we joined with staff members of the Lost Towns Project to conduct extensive work on the site. This field session continues the 33 year history of the partnership of ASM and the Maryland Historic Trust in conducting these events.

Situated on the banks of a relic cove off Mill Creek in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the Swan Cove Site (18AN934) was occupied by planter and tobacco-pipe maker Emanuel Drue from perhaps the 1650s until his death in 1669.

Drue used state of the art, European production techniques in the manufacture of tobacco-pipes made of native clays (perhaps from the banks of the Severn River). He produced two main forms, a “Chesapeake” style angular elbow pipe and a European “belly bowl."

 The pipes and kiln debris recovered from intact features at Swan Cove characterize a seventeenth-century industry that has yet to be studied in the New World. Our efforts here could lead to new understanding of this industry and of the people involved in settling Maryland in the 1600s.

The goals of the field session were:

  • To search for the remnants of the original tobacco pipe kiln
  • Further investigate the industrial workspace
  • Continue investigation of the domestic areas associated with Drue’s property
  • Investigate the post-Drue portion of the site (ca. 1700 Merriday occupations)

The session started out early on Friday, May 7. As participants gathered, work began on setting up equipments and preparing for excavation. Lost Towns staff directed the effort as tents were erected and initial units were opened. The crew of hard-core workers quickly set up shop and went to work on the site.

Work began in several areas of the site. A "household area" that was thought to contain mostly debris from a suspected cellar feature was one of the first areas to begin producing artifacts. Starting out as a "small" feature, this area grew to encompass the majority of the excavation by the time work was done.

While some worked in the relative comfort of the meadow-like "household" and "industrial" areas, a few took to the hills. Quite literally in fact. One of the major efforts, in the first days of the field session, was to probe the ground of the hillside leading down to the pond below the main property. The goal was to try to find cobbles that may have been transported to that area. These cobbles might have been used to build the kiln that Drue used. Several members trudged across the area using probes to check for anything that might be one of these cobbles
Once the area had been probed, and marker flags put in place, brush was removed from the hillside and shovel testing began in earnest. Despite the hard work of this crew, no definitive kiln material appeared to solve the mystery of where Drue had done his work.

Meanwhile, work continued on the top of the hill. The excavation continued and squads of screeners joined in to sift through the soil in hopes of meeting our goals. Fortunately the weather was more cooperative this year. Warm, dry days became HOT, dry days. The key word being "dry" of course. The crew experienced only a light drizzle. And that was on only one day of the eleven.
Long traditions were continued in the form of the "lunchtime lecture." This activity provides participants with detailed information about the local site, general Maryland archeology or history, or a short nap before heading back to work. The two major lecturers were Dave Gadsby and Jane Cox, both from the Lost Towns Project. Dave's talks on the history of Providence and the associated material culture that has be discovered on nearby sites added color to the project. Knowing the background made the 17th century come alive for many. Jane hit us with the high tech side of archeology with a lecture on Ground Penetrating Radar and other remote sensing devices.

In fact, following the lecture on how the radar system is used to detect buried features, the system was packed over to the work area and microwaves were turned on our elusive kiln site.

Several lines were marked off for examination. ASM volunteers had a rare opportunity to operate the radar equipment and take a look at the results as they appeared on the system monitor. The results seemed to show that the feature we had been working on was much larger than previously thought. This provided motivation for the excavators to get back to work.

Meanwhile, for the few who needed relief from the sun, or just naturally prefer getting a close look at the artifacts coming out of the excavation, a field lab was set up to process some of the finds. Cleaning, sorting and rebagging items became a full time occupation in the latter part of the field session.

The finds themselves weren't too shabby either. Among the most common artifacts were, of course, pipe fragments and kiln debris. Various types of ceramic were constantly being unearthed in the process as well. The pipes that Drue produced here range from typical kaolin clay pipes, similar to English tradeware, to fascinating multi-colored pieces with red, white, gray and green clays mixed together. (An example is shown above, left.) While most artifacts were from historic periods, the occasional lithic worked its way into the site to keep the pre-historians happy. (A archaic quartz point is shown above, right.)
ASMers are not without a sense of humor. These buckets, shown on the left, express a sentiment that many of us would happily echo. Above the clearly marked "Fill Line", the lettering reads, "Failure to follow these instructions will cause much whining in certain individuals." Alas, apparently many enthusiastic diggers either ignored the sage advice or they simply can't read.

During one of Dave Gadsby's lectures, a type collection was brought to the site for our viewing pleasure. the items seen in the photos above and below are typical of the artifacts found during this field session. (Unfortunately we did NOT discover the world's third Crumn horn pipe, seen in the photo below, however many complete bowls and hundreds of stems made an appearance in our screens and shovels.
Swan Cove was the maiden voyage of two of ASM's most recent acquisitions. The shelters, seen above, were purchased this year for use at field sites. Similar to the one purchased by MHT last year, they proved to be absolutely essential when working in the hot sun. We hope they work as well in the rain when it returns to the filed session, in 2067.

Late on Thursday afternoon we found that news of the field session had become a nationwide event. Some believe that the Goodyear Blimp was diverted directly over the site in order for competing archeological organization to obtain critical intelligence about how our organizations do such wonderful archeology. Others think that those believers have probably been out in the sun too long.
Roy Brown, creator of this year's most excellent t-shirt design (and nearly every other design we've had in this webmaster's memory), and John Newton began some delicate feature work on Friday. The opportunity to do different types of work, from probing for cobbles, to mapping features was abundant. New experiences were available for nearly everyone

Saturday, the 15th, turned out to be a little different from most field sessions. Everyone packed up and moved to Londontown for the day. There they were able to tour the site of the colonial village and try out some new experiences. Seen above, ASMers try their own hand at recreating the Crumn horn pipe. We look forward to seeing how these 21st century editions compare to the one created over 300 years ago.
No field session would be complete without a social night. This year it took the form of a barbeque where a range of scrumptious goodies made their way from the grill to the plates of ravenous archeologists. Topped off with cookies and watermelon it made for a great feast. Followed by Dr. Charlie Hall on the banjo, the evening was a great success for all involved.

The last two days of the field session were a flurry of activity as usual. Efforts to finish as much as possible lead to a scene of quiet determination as features were mapped (Stacy street and Dave Gadsby, above left) and new squares were exposed as quickly as feasible (Virginia and Elaine Hall, above right).
When completed the "household" area resulted in exposure of nearly 40, 5 foot by 5 foot squares. As seen above, the entire feature was over 20 feet long by 10 feet wide. While no one knows exactly what the area was used for, there are many theories. We anxiously await the written report from Dr. Luckenbach and his Lost Towns crew.

Thanks - The Archeological Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Historic Trust would like to thank the Swan Cove Site landowner, Bill Storck, for his permission to carry out work during this field session. His ehtusiastic support was essential to this event.




Note: Site information excerpted from Tobacco-Pipe Manufacturing in Early Maryland: The Swan Cove Site (ca. 1660-1669) by Al Luckenbach and C. Jane Cox, in The Clay Tobacco-Pipe In Anne Arundel County, Maryland (1650-1730), edited by Al Luckenbach, C. Jane Cox, and John Kille, 2002, Anne Arundel County’s Lost Towns Project, Annapolis, Maryland