In 2002 a small crew systematically covered the areas represented by Grids 1-12, pin flagging all artifacts visible on the ground surface. This was easy and thorough south of the treeline, where the surface visibility was nearly 100 percent. To the north, however, the field was in head-high hay, with no visibility [Figure Anomaly 1-14]. The team compensated by digging shovel tests, but time restrictions forced the lines of shovel holes to be spaced widely apart (20 m). The crew found very little evidence for historic human activity northeast of Grid 5 and Grid 9.
Remote sensing technologies told another tale. The gradiometer displayed a series of magnetic signatures strung linearly southwest to northeast across Grids 5-8 and Grid 11, i.e., through the hay field north of the fence [Figure Anomaly 1-13]. The cause of the strongest anomalies in the south was obvious: the fence. Elsewhere, many of the anomalies seemed to consist of paired strongly positive and negative readings indicative of individual iron specimens. Grid 6, however, showed a different reading: a line of magnetic anomalies whose field strengths were intermediate [Figure Anomaly 1-12]. The anomaly seemed to cover a roughly 1x5m swath [Figure Anomaly 1-11]. Anomalous radar returns visible in the same area also spoke to the presence of possible archaeological features below ground [Figure Anomaly 1-15]. The radar, moreover, suggested that whatever was causing the signals was present at a shallow depth. Perhaps, the participants hypothesized, this was a path, remnants of the old ‘river road’, or a portion of the wall of a structure.
To test the anomaly Prospection in Depth participants and the research team in 2006 positioned 22 contiguous 1x1m units over the anomaly [Figure Anomaly 1-10, Figure Anomaly 1-2, Figure Anomaly 1-3, Figure Anomaly 1-4]. What the Prospection students and research team exposed was a relatively thin layer of brick rubble concentrated over a 1.25×7 m area and buried just below the topsoil. [Figure Anomaly 1-7, Figure Anomaly 1-6; Figure Anomaly 1-1] Mixed among the bricks and in adjacent units were Coincoin period nails and sparse domestic debris, including olive-green glass, creamware, colonoware, and pearlware pottery sherds, all of which lead to the conclusion that this feature was associated with Coincoin’s plantation. A stratigraphic control trench dug along the grid-east profile of G5 indicates the brick was deposited across a former ground surface, probably in one depositional episode. [Figure Anomaly 1-8]
What, speculated the surveyors and excavators, might be the nature of that episode? The quantity of brick is greatest and most concentrated to the grid-east, and it expands slightly to the grid-west in an elongated “V” shape, with an area of sparse brick in the middle. This shape, plus the thickness of the debris, suggests a possible collapsed brick chimney. This hypothesis was supported by tiny fragments of charcoal distributed throughout the soil matrix in which the bricks were found, as well as by the presence of dense soot on the surfaces of some bricks. Few whole bricks were present, which may indicate that the rubble pile was robbed for usable material before it ultimately was buried by alluvium and overgrown by turf.
If it was a fallen chimney, then logically it would be connected in some fashion to a structure, probably either in the middle or at one of the ends. Since there was no sign of architectural features in the G Block units surrounding the bricks to the north and south, and since the brick density tapered off to the west, researchers ended the 2006 season with the working hypothesis that excavation to the grid-east would uncover the remains of the associated structure. Specifically, the units grid-east of the G block should expose the remains of some sort of hearth.
Funding for the research project from 2002-2007 was generously provided by the U.K. Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities, the Cane River National Heritage Area, the National Park Service’s Delta Initiative, and the Institute of Archaeology at University College London.