Roma dig

Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dig un­earths rare item

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEVE SHARRATT sshar­ratt­the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/GuardianSteve

A rather re­mark­able find turned up at an arche­o­log­i­cal dig on Bru­denell Point this week.

A rather re­mark­able find turned up at an arche­o­log­i­cal dig on Bru­denell Point this week.

Vol­un­teers, stu­dents and First Na­tions folk were par­tic­i­pat­ing in the public dig on the foun­da­tion of the 200-year-old Mal­colm Shaw homestead but some­thing even older and ear­lier showed up.

“We arche­ol­ogy nerds ex­pect nails and bits of pot­tery, but this is pretty unique,’’ He­len Krist­man­son, pro­vin­cial di­rec­tor of abo­rig­i­nal af­fairs and arche­ol­ogy, says as she in­spects the find. “I would say it’s def­i­nitely pre-1820.”

The pro­vin­cial di­rec­tor of ar­chae­ol­ogy gen­tly turns a but­ton in her hands. A me­tal but­ton made of a cop­per al­loy that has lost the sheen, but def­i­nitely not the shape. Even the hole for a wire thread to se­cure the dime sized item to a jacket was still there.

“This is more like some­thing we would find at a dig linked to the Aca­dian ex­pul­sion,” says Krist­man­son. “It would ap­pear to be that old.”

That would mean the but­ton found buried 30 cen­time­tres be­low the sur­face at the Roma at Three Rivers site has been around for roughly 250 years.

The sig­nif­i­cance means it could have popped off a man’s jacket as he was led away in the Aca­dian de­por­ta­tions of 1775. Or, as Krist­man­son sus­pects, it could be a but­ton from a coat dur­ing the time Jean Pierre Roma es­tab­lished the first non­mil­i­tary set­tle­ment here in the 1730s.

So far it’s the high­light find un­earthed at the na­tional his­toric site along with some clay pipe pieces and a much ear­lier me­tal but­ton marked “best qual­ity”. All items will un­dergo closer ob­ser­va­tion for his­tor­i­cal ac­cu­racy.

“It’s sort of like gar­den­ing,’’ of­fers Jenna Burke, one of the vol­un­teers. “Take your time and keep your eyes peeled.”

The bugs are bad in the early hours, but soon the wind picks up and the breeze keeps the dig­gers con­tent as they hunt for signs from the past. The week-long dig ended Fri­day and of­fi­cials hope to host another public welcome dig.

STEVE SHARRATT/ THE GUARDIAN

Pro­vin­cial arche­ol­o­gist He­len Krist­man­son con­fers with vol­un­teers dur­ing the public dig held this week at Roma at Three Rivers.

STEVE SHARRATT/ THE GUARDIAN

The largest but­ton pic­tured was un­cov­ered dur­ing the public dig this week at Bru­denell Point and could be 250 years old.

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