Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Covering up the Past

We have had an interesting summer at the Sinclair Inn Museum.  Those who have wandered up St. George Street have doubtlessly seen the scaffolding along the parking lot side of the building.  This has been in place to allow the roof to get a fresh new batch of cedar shingles installed.  As the season goes along, you will also notice some other aspects of this project as rotten clapboard and shingles are replaced, wooden windows are restored and the whole place gets a fresh coat of paint.  This is a lot of work just to make our building look old again.

One of the parts of the project that may have been missed by the general public was the removal of a layer of silt in the basement.  This silt had accumulated over time and was causing some drainage problems in the basement.  When the silt was removed (about 30-50cm deep) we discovered some very interesting things.  Buried under the silt was a series of wooden sleepers.  The wood was wet but otherwise in good condition.  Wondering what we were dealing with we sent a section of the wood to Mount Allison University for Dendrochronology testing.  The date of the wood came back as 1708 which is contemporary with the construction of the Soullard (front) section of the building.  Perhaps even more interesting than the wooden sleepers was a burned section (seen as gray in these images) below the sleepers.  This section included a few interesting things like burned roofing slate.  Were these the remains of a building that predates the Sinclair Inn?

Since we do not currently have the budget to do a proper archaeological investigation of this burned layer, a decision was made to recover the basement with a new layer of soil to protect the wooden sleepers and any other artifacts near the surface.  I suppose that calling our infill a layer of soil is too simple.  First there was a layer of landscaping fabric laid down to mark the level that was untouched.  This was followed by a layer of sand and a layer of sand mixed with bentonite.  This should create an anaerobic barrier which will protect the artifacts which will be excavated at some point in the future.

Today I also reconfirmed that those who dig in the ground can sometimes have an intriguing sense of humour. When we lit the basement to take some final photographs I learned that one of our crew had left a partially exposed plastic skull in the basement all summer.  I wonder how many tourists discovered this skull through the summer.You can see it in the top image.

All for now,

No comments:

Post a Comment