Oak Ridge Site in Orleans, MA


The Oak Ridge Site was discovered during an archaeological survey in 1982. The archaeologists in charge of the dig determined that this site, which yielded evidence of stone tool making dating back to the Transitional Archaic (ca. 3600 BP) was possibly worthy of inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. They conducted a second phase of testing at the site in 1984 and determined that it was significant and eligible. After recovering over 1600 flakes and tool fragments, they recommended that it be avoided or more completely tested (mitigated in the archaeological parlance). I think that this was accomplished in 1985 but from there the trail gets a bit cold. Well, anyway, the site became the location of the Tri-town waste water treatment plant and in 2010, as part of Orleans’ new sewer proposal, it is proposed to be removed with a new plant to be built. This new plant will include larger filtration beds that will be partially located outside of the area where the archaeology for the Oak Ridge Site was done. While the earlier survey’s limited testing did not find anything in the 10 test pits placed in this ~7 acre area, I think that this area retains a high potential for more testing.

The Oak Ridge Site has been tentatively linked to the Coburn subculture of the Watertown Phase of the Susquehanna Tradition (say that three times fast). Basically this means that the original excavators think thought that it dated to about 3200-3000 BP and may be the place where the stone blades found at the Coburn cremation burial cemetery (also in Orleans) were made.

The town of Orleans will be debating at town meeting whether to fund a further examination of the Oak Ridge Site at the 2016 Spring Town Meeting.

Below you can find a link to the original article by Frank Kremp who found the Coburn Site and to a summary of the Oak Ridge Site archaeology that I did.

Coburn Site by Frank Kremp

Oak Ridge Site Summary by Craig Chartier