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Spear part, pottery found on first day of Camp Security archaeological dig

Written by Teresa Boeckel, York Daily Record | May 19, 2015 11:00 AM
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Photo by Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record/Sunday News

Nancy Godfrey, front, of York Township, begins with a row of other volunteers making a systematic walk across the latest dig site in search of Camp Security on Monday. Today and Wednesday the volunteers will use metal detectors, which last August helped volunteers to find two coins -- a British half-penny and a Spanish coin -- as well as a musket ball and buttons.

(York) -- Archeologists and volunteers found pieces of red earthenware pottery and some prehistoric stones, including the base of a spear tip, as an archaeological dig started Monday to find evidence of a Revolutionary War prison camp in Springettsbury Township.

The effort started with the volunteers and archaeologists walking across about 2 acres of a field off of Locust Grove Road to look for old objects turned up on the surface of the plowed site. They placed flags and mapped the location of the pieces of pottery and the pre-historic material made of stone. Then they placed them in bags.

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Photo by Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record/Sunday News

The first artifact, found Friday, another piece of redware is bagged with #1 for the first artifact taken for this dig at the Camp Security dig site, on Monday.

What excited senior archaeologist Steve Warfel is they found half a dozen pieces -- or maybe more -- of red earthenware pottery. It's not distinctive enough to say with certainty that it's 18th century or 19th century, he said.

"But we do know from the work that was done in 1979 on that hilltop up there that most of the pottery found was red earthenware," he said while taking a break at the site. "So that's why I'm eager when I see that. It holds the promise that we're still seeing the product of the 18th century, even though I can't be sure unless I find it with something else that's dateable."

Warfel hopes to find evidence of the palisade -- a high fence used to protect Camp Security where the colonists held British prisoners of war.

One volunteer found the base of a spear tip that would date to 6,000 to 8,000 years ago, Warfel said. It's typical of what has been seen in the general region. It's the product of native peoples who were traveling through and taking advantage of the nearby spring or following game.

This week's hunt

Today and Wednesday the volunteers will use metal detectors, which last August helped volunteers to find two coins -- a British half-penny and a Spanish coin -- as well as a musket ball and buttons.

Then on Thursday they will start to dig test trenches. All of the top soil will be sifted as the trenches are dug, and any artifacts will be collected. As they get down to the subsoil, usually a brighter, yellowish-brown color, they hope to see hopefully dark stains -- evidence of where the subsurface has been disturbed, Warfel said. The colonists would have dug into the subsoil deep enough to put the posts in the ground and backfill against it.

"There should be a very distinct footprint of this palisade or stockade," he said. "It's just a matter of us finding it."

He said the heavy rain on Monday shouldn't be a problem. The site is dry and will likely absorb much of the moisture, which makes it easier to see color differences at the subsoil level once the topsoil is removed.

What volunteers had to say

-- "I enjoy doing this," said Brian Sinclair, of Lower Windsor Township. He found a piece of redware and the piece of prehistoric spear. "It's cool," he said. "It shows that people were here thousands of years ago." He described how tough it was to find items in the dry soil. The prehistoric stones, for example, stand out better when it's wet. "I hope we find something -- something exciting," he said of the archaeological dig.

-- Molly York of Springettsbury Township is a student of anthropology at Penn State, so it's exciting to be involved in the dig. "It's always a lot of fun to put into practice what you learn," she said.

-- John Loucks of Springettsbury Township a is retired and is always looking for things to broaden his resume, he said. That's why he volunteered for the dig. "It's sort of educational for me," he said, adding that he used to live near the site.

Contact Teresa Boeckel at (717) 771-2031.


This article comes to us through a partnership between the York Daily Record and WITF. 

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