Prescott House Museum site manager Nancy Morton and archeologist Aaron Taylor are excited to see what is unearthed during an upcoming archeological dig on the Prescott grounds, a pilot project of the Nova Scotia Museum that will be open to the public. – Kirk Starratt, www.kingscountynews.ca
By Kirk Starratt
There’s no telling what could be buried in the midden behind Prescott House.
An archeological dig later this month will give members of the public the chance to get better connected with history and learn more about the everyday lives of Charles Prescott and his family.
Archeologist Aaron Taylor of Sheffield Mills, along with archeology graduate Natalis Jess, plans to excavate the midden on the Prescott House grounds. The midden - essentially the garbage heap - is where people discarded items no longer of use in the days before municipal waste collection.
“You never know what you’re going to find when you go into the ground,” Taylor said. “It can really tell a story of what the people here used on a daily basis.”
Excavating a midden is like hitting the jackpot for an archeologist, he said. During a walk along the driveway that now runs past where the midden was located yielded several pieces of glass and ceramics.
Taylor said the history books talk about Charles Prescott, but archeology helps put the individual back in history. Women are often forgotten in written history and Taylor hopes they will find evidence of Prescott’s wife and daughters. The area where Prescott House now stands was once a Mi’kmaq landscape and was used by Acadians and Planters, so there could be other fascinating discoveries.
Prescott House senior interpreter Diana Baldwin said the staff is always trying to learn more about the Prescott family and the history of the site. The dig could prove quite informative, she said.
“We’re really looking forward to what we’ll learn,” Baldwin said.
Open to the public
Taylor is also excited to have interested members of the public participate. It’s meant to be fun for everyone involved and help connect the public with their history. People become more interested when they’re able to make that connection through something tangible, he added.
Taylor remembers the excitement of unearthing his first artifacts, and although he’s conducted many digs as an archeologist, he still gets excited.
“When a child finds their first artifact, they’re hooked,” Taylor said.
With ceramics popping out of the ground when it rains, Taylor said it’s a potentially very abundant site for artifacts.
Aside from being one of the best examples of early Georgian architecture in the area, Taylor said few people appreciate the significance of Charles Prescott to the Valley’s past, present and future. Prescott introduced more than 100 apple varieties and passed his work on to area farmers, helping to foster the economic success of the apple industry in the Valley.
Very little is known about early-19th century Nova Scotia and the dig could help add to our knowledge, Taylor added.
Prescott House site manager Nancy Morton said there was an archeological dig on the grounds in 1979, but it wasn’t open to the public. The public dig is a pilot project of the Nova Scotia Museum. If all goes well, hopefully there will be future digs at other museum sites.
“I’m excited to see what we find,” she said. “This is saying that museums can be fun.”
The Prescott dig may evolve into a multi-year project, as there are many areas that could be excavated. He also hopes to explore the latrine and locate the foundation of the carriage house at the dig.
Taylor said they hope to set up a blog with photos so those who aren’t able to attend can follow the progress of the dig online.
People age 10 and up, including families, are welcome to participate in the dig, planned from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily Aug. 22-25. Tools will be provided and organizers are hoping for 15 participants daily. Those interested are welcome to come for a day or all four days. Participants are asked to bring a lunch, water and sunscreen and to dress appropriately for the conditions.
Those interested in taking part are asked to pre-register by calling Prescott House at 542- 3984.