Dig at Pilgrim and Native American memorial sparks intrigue

Jul 8, 2021, 10:05 AM | Updated: 10:40 pm

Archaeologists combing a hill near Plymouth Rock where a park will be built in tribute to the Pilgrims and their Native American predecessors have made a poignant discovery: It’s not the first time the site has been used as a memorial.

David Landon of the University of Massachusetts-Boston’s Fiske Center for Archaeological Research says his team unearthed a cache of personal items he thinks were buried there in the late 1800s, most likely by a brokenhearted settler who had outlived all three of her children.

Landon says the objects — eyeglasses, clothing, sewing implements, a pocket watch and a book — gave him chills. That’s because they turned up during final excavations of Cole’s Hill, a National Historic Landmark site in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where Remembrance Park is set to be constructed.

“Someone clearly used that space in that fashion in the past to memorialize members of their family,” said Landon, whose team spent the past month scouring the waterfront site where the Pilgrims are said to have come ashore in 1620.

“It’s an amazing array of things you don’t usually find as an archaeologist,” he said. “It plays very much to the remembrance aspect of the site. The idea of a human memorial there is emotionally powerful.”

Remembrance Park originally was conceived to mark 2020´s 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s 1620 arrival, the founding of Plymouth Colony and the settlers’ historic interactions with the indigenous Wampanoag people. But then the coronavirus pandemic hit, idling many commemoration events as well as construction. Work on the park is expected to begin late next year or early in 2023.

The newly reimagined park will highlight three periods of epic historical challenge: the Great Dying of 1616-19, when deadly disease brought by other Europeans severely afflicted the Wampanoag people; the first winter of 1620-21, when half of the Mayflower colonists perished of contagious sickness; and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

Donna Curtin, executive director of the Pilgrim Society & Pilgrim Hall Museum, which owns the tract, said the discovery of “this exquisitely personal family cache” makes the site even more evocative.

“A project like this helps reminds us that there’s real emotional power in history because real people lived through it,” she said. “That’s really the purpose of Remembrance Park.”

Who left the items in the soil? Initial research points to Judith Jackson, a 19th-century family matriarch who died in 1905. She was predeceased by all three of her children — a daughter who died very young, and then an adult son and adult daughter.

Some of the items found date to the 1840s, and Landon believes it’s likely that Jackson — who once lived in one of four colonial houses that once stood on Cole’s Hill — buried the objects in memory of the offspring she’d outlived.

The archaeologists also recovered stone-cutting tools — evidence of a much older Wampanoag living site that appears to have survived the ravages of time because a 1700s home was built atop it, shielding it from the elements, Landon said.

“Sometimes when you look, you find something, and sometimes you don’t,” he said. “This was a great success.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE -  In this Friday March 12. 2021, file photo, a view of the empty Federal College of Forestry ...
Associated Press

After captivity, Nigerian students seek overseas education

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Emmanuel Benson was planning to get his diploma in horticulture and landscaping from Nigeria’s Federal College of Forestry Mechanization next year. Now, he’s not willing to risk the return to school, after he was kidnapped by bandits with dozens of others earlier this year. “Our lives are at risk — Nigerian […]
1 day ago
This Photograph provided by India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) shows NDRF personnel ar...
Associated Press

India’s eastern coast on high alert as cyclone hits land

NEW DELHI (AP) — Authorities in two Indian coastal states are on high alert, with evacuations and preparations underway as a cyclone hit the eastern seaboard late Sunday evening. The Indian Meteorological Department said Cyclone Gulab, coming in from the Bay of Bengal, began to make landfall with an estimated wind speed of up to […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2021, file photo, Mayra Navarrete, 13, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine...
Associated Press

US has enough COVID-19 vaccines for boosters, kids’ shots

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — With more than 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccines available, U.S. health authorities said they’re confident there will be enough for both qualified older Americans seeking booster shots and the young children for whom initial vaccines are expected to be approved in the not-too-distant future. The spike in demand — expected […]
1 day ago
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner speaks at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, England, Satu...
Associated Press

UK Labour politician defends calling government ‘scum’

LONDON (AP) — The deputy leader of Britain’s main opposition party refused Sunday to apologize for calling the governing Conservatives “scum.” Labour Party lawmaker Angela Rayner called members of the government a “bunch of scum — homophobic, racist, misogynistic” during a reception Saturday at the party’s annual conference. The comment drew a reprimand from Labour […]
1 day ago
Afghan children and women gather outside a bakery to get free bread in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, ...
Associated Press

UN and Afghanistan’s Taliban, figuring out how to interact

It’s been little more than a month since Kalashnikov-toting Taliban fighters in their signature heavy beards, hightop sneakers and shalwar kameezes descended on the Afghan capital and cemented their takeover. Now they’re vying for a seat in the club of nations and seeking what no country has given them as they attempt to govern for […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this March 21, 2021, file photo people enjoy the sunny weather and a view of the Manhatta...
Associated Press

In redistricting, big say for big cities in DC power balance

NEW YORK (AP) — As political muscle goes, bigger doesn’t always mean better. Just ask New York, Los Angeles and Chicago every four years, when those cities become mostly irrelevant blips on the Electoral College map. But as congressional redistricting gets underway, some of the country’s most populous cities are taking prominent roles in reshaping […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Dig at Pilgrim and Native American memorial sparks intrigue