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2006 From the Dig
Archaeology Report

Conservation Report

Annual Report

On site conservation at Ferryland - 2006

Remarks by Charlotte Newton

During my five weeks at the Colony of Avalon site I treated, or began treatment on, about 130 small finds, primarily metal objects (copper alloy, lead and silver coins; copper alloy/tin plated pins; copper alloy decorative elements such as garter points or aiglets, buttons, buckles; turned lead window came); several ceramic objects, including a small SK plate and other miscellaneous leather and textile fragments, and iron. Treatment of some of these objects could be completed on site (the non-ferrous metals), while others (such as textile, leather, iron) will need longer term treatments or specialized equipment not available on site. Several iron objects had to be lifted in blocks or treated to enable removal, since they had corroded onto the cobblestones. A pewter spoon was removed from the ground in a block lift, since the object at first appeared to be very fragile. Subsequent cleaning showed that the spoon was fairly robust.

Some particularly interesting objects included a mourning ring, an earpicker, a new denomination of DK lead token, the SK plate and the pewter spoon. The mourning ring has a copper alloy incised band, partially coated with black enamel, with a death’s head set in a bezel, on a background of coiled hair, between two letters of twisted gold wire (PQ?), covered with a glass disc. The earpicker is also copper alloy and is a unique multi-purpose object, for personal hygiene (cleaning ears, picking teeth, cleaning fingernails) that may also have been a small whistle. The SK plate is similar to the other SK ceramics in that it is also a tin glazed earthenware, decorated in blues and purples and initialled, however the shape is a new one. The pewter spoon is thought to be the earliest intact spoon found on the site so far and though there is surface corrosion and cracking, it was in good enough condition to still have a maker’s mark on the concave surface of the bowl near the handle.

Monitoring of the Ferryland cross was ongoing. The cross had been returned to the site in the spring of 2005 after 3D laser scanning, replication, and construction of an anoxic display and storage case, done at or coordinated by CCI. Continued monitoring of the cross in its new anoxic case will be vitally important to its survival. The cross had been stored for the winter in the new storage area on the ground floor of the interpretation centre, in its anoxic storage container, in a closed metal storage unit. MUN Archaeology Unit collections curator Gillian Noseworthy had put a Hobo datalogger in the storage unit and another in the cross display case in the interpretation centre to allow continuous monitoring of the temperature and humidity levels. The cross was returned to the interpretation centre in mid July. The cross should continue to be monitored while the interpretation centre is closed and should be stored in an area of the building that has the most controlled and consistent environmental conditions. If there is any indication that the anoxic conditions are failing, the cross should be repackaged as quickly as possible.

The lab staff who deal with artifact processing, cataloguing, data entry, interacting with the public and other lab duties, should once again be commended for their efficient handling of the thousands of artifacts from this season. Their experience, knowledge and commitment to the site were evident in the way the artifacts were cared for and processed. It’s a pleasure to work with them and share their lab.

It is a wonderful professional opportunity to work on such a variety of material, but beyond that is the unique chance to work on a site where active excavation, artifact processing, storage and display are so well integrated. I believe that this combination is also the reason that the site continues to attract so many visitors – the site is always changing, new finds are being made and research is revealing new insights about the Colony. The MUN Archaeology Unit, the Colony of Avalon Foundation and the staff in Ferryland should all be congratulated for their ongoing achievements. I’ve greatly enjoyed being a part of the team for the last four years and I hope I can be of help to the Colony in the future.

Remarks by Judy Logan

An extension in funding for the 2006 field season, allowed me to work in the lab for most of September. Two artifacts that were found in late August – lead tokens, which have the name “Jacques Colombe” (sp?) on the obverse and “Pour L’Etranger” (sp?) on the reverse, were cleaned prior to being examined by Paul Berry, Chief Curator of the national Currency Collection, Bank of Canada, Ottawa Mr. Berry visited the site and spent a day in the lab, examining all the coins. This collection, with the unusual lead tokens, adds another dimension to understanding the economics of early English and French colonies.

Another exceptional find was part of a small, clear, liqueur-glass size goblet that had been molded and free-blown in two pieces, with a handle attached. The pieces were cleaned in the lab, but not stuck together, in the hope that more of the vessel will be found. It is a charming and delicate object, another glimpse of the elegance that the residents of the Colony enjoyed.

Part of a large, oval, white, tin-glazed platter was block- lifted in late September. It was found face down and crushed on bricks and stone. The pieces were cleaned and left in their wax block lift, ready for future restoration. Although it lacks painted design, the platter has a molded rim, and a thick, white glaze. Could this have been part of the service commissioned by Sarah Kirk? The sherds recovered in the block lift have very little wear, or scratches indicating use. Perhaps it was new when lost, or had been a decorative piece.

In the last week of September, another interesting ceramic was found: a reddish-brown earthenware bowl, with a clear glaze and a painted design in cream-coloured slip. This is a completely restorable object that will add to the impressive display in the Visitor Centre. It is unusual in that almost all the sherds were recovered, and the design is different from the other restored ceramics.

In September, the Colony’s educational program welcomed groups of school children who visited the site, Visitor Center and lab. Ferryland’s excavations continue to enhance the experience of discovery that anyone visiting the site can enjoy.

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