108 Bray Farm Road N.
Yarmouth Port, MA

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Taylor-Bray Farm Archaeology Project

Intensive Survey - 2011

Before the start of the renovation of the farmhouse, the Taylor-Bray Farm Preservation Association and volunteers had worked to remove the 20th century updates to the house. That work uncovered a vast quantity of artifacts from under the floors of the house. At that point, it became clear that the advice of professional archaeologists was needed.

In August, 2010, the Association contracted Craig Chartier of The Plymouth Archaeological Rediscovery Project (PARP) to conduct a reconnaissance survey of the Farm. This survey focused on analyzing the archaeological potential of the Farm to assess the historic and prehistoric value of the site. PARP recommended that archaeological testing programs in the form of an Intensive Survey and Site Examination be conducted. The purpose of the survey would be to collect information to aid in the restoration of the farmhouse and inform the Town and the Association about archaeologically sensitive areas.

The archaeological survey would provide information that could be used to plan future development of the property by locating areas to be avoided due to their archaeological significance and identifying areas of low archaeological sensitivity that would be suitable for future expansion or construction. A final goal of archaeological testing was to examine the evidence for prehistoric use of the property by Native people as well as the European occupation of the land.

In 2011, PARP, the Farm and Farm volunteers conducted the Intensive Survey. 226 test pits, 121 on a 5 meter grid within 30 meters of the farm house and Taylor Rock, and 105 on a 10 meter grid to the east of the house were dug. The survey recovered 2,305 artifacts, of which 173 were prehistoric and 2132 were historic. Prehistoric artifacts consisted of pottery, fire-cracked rock, a net sinker, flakes, flake fragments, shatter, cores, unifaces, bifaces, and projectile points. Raw materials discovered for lithic tools were primarily limited to those obtainable from local sources: quartz, rhyolite, quartzite, granite, schist, and sandstone. One Levanna point and one flake appear to be made from English flint, a material the Native Americans could acquire either by trade or by salvaging ballast piles along the shore after Europeans began traveling to Cape Cod for fishing and trading.

At the conclusion of the Survey archaeologists identified five prehistoric sites. The first two sites had low densities of prehistoric materials scattered across relatively wide areas. One area had a heavy concentration of lithic and fire-cracked rock while the last two sites had higher densities of debitage, tools and fire-cracked rock spread across wide areas. Each site was distinct from the others; each appears to represent an individual site rather than components of one large site.

Five partial or complete projectile points were recovered from the pastures. There were two Small Stemmed points, an Atlantic point, a Rossville point, and one possible Levanna point fragment. The Atlantic point dates to the Transitional Archaic period (4300-3500 BP), the Small Stemmed points date from the Late Archaic to the Early Woodland periods (4,500- 1,500 BP), the Rossville point dates to the Early Woodland period (2,700-2,000 BP), and the Levanna point dates from the Late Woodland Period (1,000-450 BP).

Historic artifacts were found across the project area but were concentrated closer to the house and barn. Artifacts from the knoll south of the farmhouse and west of the barn were dated from the 17th to 19th centuries with a higher occurrence of 17th to 18th century ceramics and hand-wrought nails here than elsewhere on the site. Ceramics included Borderware (an early-to-late 17th-century ceramic not often seen on English Colonial period sites), and Westerward stoneware (1640-1775) probably representing a jug. Other 17th century artifacts included a silver spur buckle and tobacco pipes dating to the middle of the 17th century. This finding offers strong support for the identification of the knoll as the location of Richard Taylor's home site.

Subsequent work resulted in significant discoveries. Information about those discoveries can be seen at 2012 House Site, at 2012 Prehistoric Site and at 2013 dig.