Pub­lic dig to take place at the Mu­seum of In­dus­try


In its quest to find out more about the former Al­bion Mines Foundry, the Nova Sco­tia Mu­seum of In­dus­try is get­ting its hands dirty.

Not only is it host­ing an arche­o­log­i­cal dig on its grounds, it is invit­ing ev­ery­one to come help dig in the earth in hopes of un­cov­er­ing in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­facts that will even­tu­ally show the lay­out of the foundry and give some in­sight into its op­er­a­tions.

The dig will take place Sept. 8 and 9 on the prop­erty of the Nova Sco­tia Mu­seum of In­dus­try.

Iron found­ing was to the 1820s what elec­tron­ics is to­day. It en­abled tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment and was a key driver of the econ­omy. This makes his­toric iron foundries sig­nif­i­cant to un­der­stand­ing the past, said Mu­seum of In­dus­try di­rec­tor De­bra McNabb.

“We are pleased to be able to con­tinue to work in part­ner­ship with In­dus­trial Her­itage Nova Sco­tia to search for an iron foundry on our site, dat­ing from 1827, said McNabb. “Find­ing the foundry would pro­vide key ev­i­dence to help us un­der­stand the ex­tent to which the Bri­tish In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion was repli­cated in Nova Sco­tia in the early 1800s.”

She said since the pub­lic dig of 2017, the mu­seum has been able to sup­port two ses­sions of ex­ca­va­tion and record­ing by pro­fes­sional ar­chae­ol­o­gists.

The foundry site was part of a com­plex of ac­tiv­i­ties that sup­ported Nova Sco­tia’s ear­li­est in­dus­trial sized coal mines. The foundry made iron items for use on mine en­gines and equip­ment and for the homes of min­ers. Pre­vi­ous digs in that area have un­cov­ered break fea­tures, nails and other items made at the foundry, pieces of tools, shards of pot­tery and clay pipes used by the work­ers.

“The lat­est dig, car­ried out this July, re­vealed more brick fea­tures, and a test pit told us how much over­bur­den lies be­tween the cur­rent sur­face and what may have ex­isted in the 1820s,” she said.

Laura deBoer, lead ar­chae­ol­o­gist for In­dus­trial Nova Sco­tia, said this year’s in­ves­ti­ga­tions have yielded some new data that takes them a few steps for­ward in our un­der­stand­ing of the foundry when it was an ac­tive, lively work­site.

“We’re see­ing more of the in­ter­est­ing vent fea­ture, which may be for air or for wa­ter, curv­ing and trav­el­ling around through the sand cast­ing floor. We’ve also got a heavy brick fea­ture, and we’ve got a bit of a bet go­ing about whether it’s an in­ter­nal wall or a ma­chin­ery base. I’m hop­ing it’s an in­ter­nal wall that shows the edge of the cast­ing floor, but we need to open a new test unit to find out. We’ll see if I win my bet.”


Re­cent ar­chae­o­log­i­cal work has re­vealed a ser­pen­tine brick trench, pro­vid­ing another clue to the mu­seum’s search for an 1827 iron foundry.

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