108 Bray Farm Road N.
Yarmouth Port, MA

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Taylor-Bray Farm Archaeology Project

The Knoll - 2012: Prehistoric Site

In October 2012 we set out to find the site of Richard Taylor's 17th century farmhouse. We did find it and also found what appears to be a separate structure built some years later. We were also surprised to find a Native American cache pit probably used to store food like dried corn or nuts within a few feet of the north cellar wall of the 17th century house.
Native Storage Pit

The archaeological investigation of the knoll at the farm resulted not only in the discovery of the Richard and Ruth Taylor Home site but also evidence of the Native American presence in the area. 18 prehistoric artifacts were recovered. One third of those artifacts were recovered from fill deposits in the cellar hole with another third recovered from what is believed to be an in situ deposit beneath the historic North Yard Scatter deposit. Most interesting was the discovery of a contact to Plantation period Native storage pit (right) that contained one piece of Native pottery, one flake-like bottle glass fragment, and several fragments of a cattle radius (below right).

Storage Pit Artifacts

It is believed that this site represents one of what could be several small and dispersed individual family planting sites (hamlets) located in the Cape Cod Bay portion of Yarmouth during the summer. Larger sites, inhabited during the winter, are believed to have been concentrated on the Bass River in South Yarmouth.

The small number of lithic artifacts found makes it difficult to verify this. The raw materials recovered are all locally derived quartz and rhyolite, probably originally coming from glacially deposited cobbles collected along the beach or creek. The debitage recovered indicates that the site was a logistical camp where resources were collected but which was not a base camp. Period sources indicate that planting sites were not necessarily occupied for an entire season but that people often moved between planting sites as each needed tending. This system would result in a desire to transport more bifaces that could be easily finished into tools as opposed to bulky cores from which flakes could be struck and used as expedient tools.

That the only faunal remains recovered consist of the fragments of a cattle radius recovered from the bottom of the storage pit may indicate that the Native inhabitants either traded for beef from the colonial inhabitants of the town or that they were engaged in a limited amount of husbandry by the Plantation period. The placement of the cattle bone at the bottom of the storage pit may also be indicative of the passing of the land from Native use to colonial use when it was sold to Richard Taylor. No floral remains were recovered, but the presence of the storage pit at the site indicates that the inhabitants were horticulturalists that planted enough maize to have a significant supply for winter storage.

Locus 1 Prehistoric Site

Site testing encountered a scattered deposit of fire-cracked rock, lithic reduction debris, one formal tool, and three expedient tools. The site appears to represent a short term Foraging Location occupied during the Late Archaic period. This site included two overlapping activity areas: a possible hearth and a concentration of lithic reduction debitage. The concentration of lithic reduction debitage was the result of someone either working the rhyolite in this area or of someone depositing their reduction refuse in this area in order to remove it from the living/ activity area around the hearth. The site appears to represent a single occupation special activity area, a resource procurement camp, associated with the Late Archaic and is associated with the Small Stemmed occupations in the town.


Several activities are represented at the site. The presence of the fire-cracked rock indicates that fire was used for cooking, warmth, and/or processing of collected resources. The lithic debitage and broken projectile points indicate that creation or replacement of projectile points used for hunting was carried out at the site. The expedient tools (right) consisted of a quartz Late Archaic Small Stemmed point tip and midsection at the top and on the bottom, from left to right, a rhyolite drill flake, a rhyolite utilized flake, a piece of debitage and another Late Archaic projectile point tip/midsection. The drill would be used to make holes in some substance and cutting or scraping of materials, possibly materials that were being collected. The site appears to represent a single-occupation Late Archaic special activity area, a resource procurement camp associated with the Small Stemmed occupations in the town.