Thwing’s Point Archaeological Dig and Field School
July 17th-28th: Monday-Friday,
8:00am-12:00pm and 12:30-4:30pm sessions
Thwing’s Point, Woolwich, ME
Contact: Ed Friedman, FOMB, 666-3372
In 1654 at the home and trading post of Thomas Ashley on what is now Thwings Pt. in Woolwich, a group of early settlers met and signed papers forming the first European style government in the Merrymeeting Bay region.
From July 17th-28th on weekdays, volunteers are invited to join Friends of Merrymeeting Bay (FOMB) in continuing excavations of this important historical site along the Kennebec River. This location has been described as possibly the most significant un-excavated historic archaeological site in Maine.
A Phase 1 survey is the initial archaeological exploration given a new site. The purpose is to quickly cover a large area in a methodical manner. Small test pits are dug, soil stratigraphy and any artifacts found are recorded and the pits are back-filled. This was done in 2007 by FOMB volunteers and Maine Historic Preservation Commission (MHPC) staff.
Results from the Phase 1 survey indicated future and more complete excavations were desirable and so a subsequent 2009 Phase 2 survey focused on an area of artifact concentration unearthed previously, while a 2011 dig located two cellar holes and unearthed a wealth of artifacts.
The 2014 dig determined approximate size of one cellar hole and found three sides of the other, also determining which hole was associated with which period of occupation. Our 2015 excavation focused on defining perimeters of each cellar and this work will continue in 2017 on at least one of the holes. Leading the dig is retired MHPC historical archaeologist Lee Cranmer assisted by former seasonal MHPC staffer Kathy Bridge.
Friends of Merrymeeting Bay invites volunteers to assist with the project. Volunteers are required to pre-register with minimum time commitments of a 1/2 day, though multi-day assistance is encouraged, space permitting. A $20.00 minimum donation to FOMB is suggested to help defray costs of the $7,000 project. Donations of at least $50.00 from non-FOMB members will include a 1-year membership in the organization. Any artifacts recovered remain the property of the landowner.
Volunteers will have the opportunity to work closely with and learn from trained archaeologists while making an important contribution to our knowledge of Maine history. There will be a maximum of six volunteer slots available per ½ day session. Donations, at far less than a similar field school might cost, help support the continued work of FOMB in areas like this one.
The morning time slot is 8:00-12 and the afternoon slot 12:30-4:30 with a lunch break at noon. Contact Dig Coordinator Tom Walling at 666-5837 to register.
FOMB works to protect the Bay and areas around it through research, advocacy, education, and land conservation. The focus of this year’s dig is on property protected by purchase and conservation easement. It was part of a larger parcel now owned by the State of Maine and managed by the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. The entire property was protected through efforts led by FOMB in partnership with the Nature Conservancy and Maine Wetlands Protection Coalition and acquired with funds from a previous Land for Maine’s Future Bond.
The next regularly scheduled FOMB Outside Series outing will be the Little Swan Island Evening Paddle led by Warren Whitney, July 26, 5:30pm-7:30pm. Pre-register with Warren at 666-3376. The full FOMB Outside Series outing schedule is available at www.friendsofmerrymeetingbay.org