Archaeology at the Wing Fort House, Sandwich, MA
Heritage services. Heritage services? Never heard of them, that’s ok. Heritage services are designed to investigate a property with a standing structure on them. The goal of such work is to create a comprehensive history of the structure and its surroundings using a multidisciplinary approach. Our Heritage services have five main components:
-archaeology under and around the structure
-architectural archaeology of the building’s fabric
-dendrochronological testing of timbers to help determine a more precise date of construction or modification of the structure
-documentary research to trace the history of the property back as far as possible through wills, probates, local and state histories, maps, and even oral recollections
-Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) under and around the structure
Each of these services may be able to provide bits and pieces of information that no one had known about for hundreds or even thousands of years (if you have a prehistoric site on the property along with the historic one). All these bits and pieces are brought together in a final report designed to tell your buildings story as much in its own words as possible.
That building out back that you heard was a slave house? We might find the proof that it was (or we may find that more probably it was an outhouse). Local tradition states that the original settler’s house burned? We can easily answer such a burning question. Town history says that the building was constructed in 1820? Our work could identify an even older structure nestled within those Federal Period walls. You just never know what you will find, and that is the power, and thrill, of archaeology and Heritage studies.
We offer a variety of packages to suite your budget and needs:
-Free site visit to view the property and give you an idea of its potential
-One day, low cost preliminary evaluation program (architectural crawl through and/ or limited archaeological testing) for $500.00
-Free from-the-office desktop evaluation of the property’s sensitivity for historic and prehistoric resources
-Archaeology family day programs where the general public can, under the guidance of professional archaeologists, help explore the history and use of the property (prices vary depending on the number of people enrolled)
-Intensive archaeological surveys of private or society/ association owned properties. These involve actual archaeological testing to provide a preliminary idea of where stuff is on the property and generally where it isn’t. These are a great way to start thinking about wisely and conscientiously managing your property (I didn’t know that there was a 10,000 year old site next to the old barn or where the original privy was but we may be able to find out together). A good rule of thumb is that the survey will cost about $600.00 per acre to be tested.
-Excavation programs. Putting in a new addition, a new walkway, septic system, replacing a floor? These are all prime opportunities to have some archaeology done before the construction potentially destroys important information about the property. I have found Native houses situated beneath a 17th century house which was in turn beneath the extant 18th century house! All unknown of until the floors came up during renovations and a little archaeology was done. As the caretaker’s of historic properties, whether private owners or ones owned and operated by family organizations, you have the responsibility to always have the property’s story foremost in your mind. Who cares if the house was built in 1672 if, through extensive landscaping, earthmoving, and renovations nothing but the buildings shell is left! The history of a structure is all about context and the land beneath and around your building contains many clues to the who, when, and why the structure was built. We can design an excavation plan that is mindful of your budget but that also gets the job done investigating what needs to be investigated before construction happens.
PARP has conducted many such Heritage Service Studies all over Massachusetts. Below are links to a few:
We love these surveys and love doing them. Archaeology is for the people, by the people, and about the people and we believe that the past belongs to everyone. Heritage Studies are a great way to bring the past to life and add whole new dimensions to what you know, or think you know, about your property.
Each survey comes with a final printed report and pdf version on stick for you to distribute as you wish. Artifacts excavated on privately owned land belong to the land owner and we will deliver anything that we find back to the property owner boxed and bagged, neatly labelled, and ready for exhibition or long term curation.