More on the Dig at St. Patrick Church

UMass Lowell’s Frank Talty provided the following details about the archaeological project in the Acre. Frank is director of academic programs in the College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. He’s been instrumental in shaping the project in collaboration with administrators and faculty at Queens College in Belfast. Following is an excerpt from the “excavation strategy:”

It is our intention to excavate two trenches, each approximately 6 feet by 6 feet in size, in the lawn at the front of St. Patrick Church…. Rigid metal fencing will be placed around the trenches to provide a fixed barrier between the work area and the rest of the property. Access to the work area will be strictly controlled by the academic staff, and any visitors will be supervised while within the excavation area…. Excavation will be undertaken by three professional archaeologists from Queen’s University Belfast, assisted by up to 6 students from UMass Lowell, and hand tools will be used throughout. It is expected that excavation will be to a maximum depth of 3 feet….

Francis Talty of UMass Lowell

4 Responses to More on the Dig at St. Patrick Church

  1. PaulM says:

    This is from Martha today. Somehow her comment wound up on the “About” page.

    The Little Dig – noted from Dave
    Anyone stopping by Suffolk Street had to wonder what was going on. The three archaeologists from Ireland and the six diggers from UMass Lowell were melting under the summer sun. The nine of them were covered with dust from digging in the pits. But it was all worth it. Day Two hit the jackpot. Dozens of oyster shells, multitudes of hand-wrought nails, shards of brown glazed pottery and transfer ware, animal bones, and kid’s marbles were among the finds of the day. Visitors started dropping by, anxious to see the artifacts. The media was there too. The Lowell Sun, UMass Lowell alumni magazine, and Channel 4 news were there to document the event. If you saw the 5 o’clock news, you heard Dr. Donnelly sharing the vision of what the dig is about. The greatest find of the day was a clay pipe that is synonymous with the type used by Irish males.

    At the end of the day the workers were assessing a new soil layer they found. Is it the remains of a floor from the Paddy Camps? Could it be rubble from construction of the church? Or could it be just a pile of rocks?

    While all of this is exciting, the real work is still to come. Each and every piece is cataloged and needs to be identified. It’s a lot of paperwork, but all part of the process. Future plans are to share the findings with the wider community. This is all part of the Acre story and is just another piece being added to the puzzle of who we are.

  2. Marie says:

    Is this comment from our friend David McKeon – St. Patrick’s Church historian and Irish history “activist”?

  3. Martha says:

    From Dave – day 3

    If you stopped by the site today, you might have thought not very much happened today. Actually today’s finds were just as important as the multitude of artifacts yesterday. Archaeology is a lot like an onion. There are layers upon layers. Each time you reach one, there is another underneath it. While the sound of digging and scraping was still abundant, the sound of pencil against paper could be heard throughout the day. The workers made detailed sketches of the 2 pits. They sprinkled water on top of the layers of soil. This made color variations that helped the archaeologists assess what type of usage the area might have seen. Yesterday, shovels were used to break the ground; today brushes were used to carefully move the soil. Looking for answers actually brought more questions. Was a foundation located? Is this coal? Does this mean there was a hearth here?

    Lots of interested parties dropped by and they are most welcome. Some old research is being revisited. Antique maps are getting adapted to new GPS technology to pinpoint locations. Nineteenth century photos are helping archaeologists possibly identify structures and their foundations. Primary source documents are giving leads to new findings. There are new pieces to the jigsaw puzzle, but we’re still missing pieces.

    Thursday is the last day of digging. Friday will be devoted to the reams of tedious documentation that are necessary for making accurate findings.