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In May of 2005, the Kingston Public Library Local History Room acquired the collection of artifacts excavated in 1972 from the Allerton Site in Kingston, Massachusetts.  The collection formerly resided in a basement display case in the house that was being built when the site was first identified. The collection consists of 121 artifacts including many of the most important artifacts that helped to date the site to the early through late seventeenth century. The general categories present are shown below:


Brick               6

Native             11

shell                 6

Metal               37

Coal                 1

bottle glass      16

Flat glass         28

Pipes                8

ceramics          6

Flint                 2



The remainder of the collection from the Allerton site is curated at Plimoth Plantation.  Initial analysis has been conducted by Craig S. Chartier MA and a report is in preparation. Throughout the course of the following discussion, reference will be made to the analysis that has already been conducted and how the Kingston Public Library Local History Room collection fits in with it.


A.        Bricks

Six brick fragments were present in the collection. Two of these had measurable attributes.  One measures 10.4 wide and  6.6 cm tall and has a vitrified exterior, very thick large pebble inclusions and longitudinal sand-strike marks 3 sides. The second brick measured  10.8 cm wide and 5.1 cm tall and was of a finer quality with longitudinally struck  sand marks on three sides. The bricks present in the Plantation collection are also of this size.

           B.        Native Material

Eleven pieces of Native American lithic material are present. This collection includes five complete projectile points: three Late Woodland Levanna points (quartz, hornfels,  rhyolite), one Late Archaic Greene point of rhyolite and one Middle Archaic Neville Variant point made out of rhyolite. Two drill tips are present, one of normanskill chert and one of rhyolite. Two rhyolite bifaces are present, as well as one two-holed soapstone gorget with incised lines on both sides and one argillite fragment with a hole in it.


In the Plantation collection, one Neville point dating to the Middle Archaic as well as two Stark points, also from the Middle Archaic. A second occupation at the site which left traces was sometime around 5000 to 2000 years ago during the Late Archaic. Within this broad expanse of time, eight spear points were left at the site when the occupants left.


The final lump of time for which we have evidence of native people at the site is from 1600 to 400 years ago, from the Middle to Late Woodland periods. From the size of the points found at the site, these people were probably using the bow and arrow. The material for two of the arrowheads found at the site were probably highly valued by their owners. One was made out of a type of chert which is only found in New York state. The other is from a type of stone only found in the Reading area of Pennsylvania.


C.        Shell

Six shell fragments from four species of shellfish, quahog (n=2), oyster, surf clam (n=2), and soft-shell clam, are present in the collection. In the Plantation collection,


D.        Metal

The class of metal includes nails, brass, iron and lead artifacts.  A total of 26 nails are present in the Allerton Collection.  These are fairly evenly distributed between modern wire nails (n=9), nineteenth century machine-cut nails (n=9) and seventeenth to eighteenth century hand-wrought nails.


The two lead artifacts consist of one fragment of lead or lead alloy that is thin and curved at one end.  It may have been part of a spoon or tankard cover. The other lead artifact is a bale seal used to secure packages of cloth prior to shipment.  The bale seal is 1.5 cm in diameter with an IR, possibly signifying King James (I or II), on one side with a possible shape of a mermaid, or at least of a woman with her arm in the air on the rear.  An imprint of the cloth that was once secured by the seal is visible on the side with the woman.


Five brass or copper alloy artifacts are present including two brass kettle scraps (one with a .5 cm round hole in it), one 2.7 cm long by .6cm wide flower decorated brass buckle, one King James I farthing decorated with a crown on the front and the words "MAG:BRI:CARO:D" and the word REX on the rear. The final brass alloy artifact is a seal top spoon with a fleur-de-lis touch mark.  Spoons of this type often have a tin wash over the surface, making them look silver instead of brass, but this one does not. The entire length of the spoon is 14.8 cm, the baluster or terminal end measures 1.3 x 1.3 cm and the bowl of the spoon measures 5.5 x 4.6cm.  The wear present on the spoon is indicative of use by a right-handed person.


Twenty-one spoons similar in shape to this one were recovered from the 1920s testing of the site believed to be the location of the Aptucxet Trading Post in Bourne, Massachusetts, but which was later found to date to the late seventeenth to early eighteenth century. present in the assemblage which appears to be a large number for a household, but actually does not seem to represent spoons which were used for eating but may have had other purposes as seen by the modifications present on them. Nine of the spoons have fig shaped bowls and 10 have more oval bowls. There are also two seal and baluster top handles, one trifid handle, one Puritan handle and one acorn top handle. The dating of these spoons is somewhat problematic because it seems that early seventeenth century spoon molds were still being used in the late seventeenth century. All of the dating done in this section comes from an article by Percy Raymond (1949). The fact that the spoon bowls are all tinned does help in dating though. Tinning was a technique which was introduced in middle of the seventeenth century, that is what the word whitened means in the makers mark on some of the spoons. Seven of the spoons exhibit excessive wear and/or modifications. Two spoons  are worn at their distal ends, the no number one excessively. The seconds wear is consistent with its possible use in stirring by a right-handed person. Three of the other five spoons  have had their bowls bent into a funnel shape and bowl has excessive burning evident on the exterior surface. What these spoons were probably used for was to heat up metal which have a low melting point such as pewter or lead to be poured into molds. The fact that there are so many spoons at the site can be rectified by the fact that some of them have been modified to serve a different purpose than originally intended. In the late seventeenth and especially the early eighteenth centuries, these types of spoons may have been losing their popularity and someone at the site may have purchased a number of them cheaply to use for metalworking.


Five iron artifacts are present.  One 10 cm long iron latch was likely used on either the front or an interior door from one of the seventeenth century houses at the site. One clothing related artifact, a large, 3.7 cm long, clothing hook is present.  The remaining three iron artifacts are tools.  They include: one pitchfork that is 21.5 cm long,  12 cm wide and has a rectangular plug base; one simple stirrup 13.7 cm high, 12.5 cm wide, with a step measuring 7.8cm x 3.1 cm; and one fireplace shovel 14.8cm long, 13.8 cm wide with a 2.9 cm dia socket.  The edges of the fire shovel are curved in either as a purposeful result of someone trying to make it a shovel that would move more ash or debris or accidentally during use.


Metal artifacts in the Plantation collection include 16 window lead fragments, leads that once held diamond shaped quarrels of glass.  Three pieces of lead shot and three pieces of lead waste testify to the melting of lead and casting of shot by the occupants of the site.  The lead may have originated as lead ingots, window leads or bale seals. Iron artifacts consisted of seven iron knife blades and one possible auger bit.


            E.        Coal

The collection contains one piece of modern coal.  No coal is present in the Plantation collection. This piece entered the archaeological record at some point after the seventeenth century occupation by the Allertons and Cushmans.


F.         Glass

A total of 43 glass fragments and one mostly complete wine bottle are present in the collection. The glass category can be sub-divided into flat glass and curved or vessel glass.  Flat glass predominantly originates from windows, but may also come from lanterns and mirrors. Curved glass generally comes from some type of vessel. Twenty-nine fragments of flat glass are in the collection, eighteen of which appear to be modern. Ten flat glass fragments are heavily patinated as a result of having been buried for an appreciable amount of time and recovered archaeologically. One piece of modern looking flat blue glass was also present.


Curved glass is represented by one fragments of clear, modern curved glass, seven fragments of seventeenth century wine bottles, one fragment of a seventeenth century square sided case bottle, five fragments of curved, thinner seventeenth century possibly pharmaceutical glass, and one mostly complete late seventeenth century wine bottle. The wine bottle's dimensions are as follows:

Overall height: 31 15 cm

Neck height: 6.2 cm

Rim diameter: 2.8 cm

Body diameter: 12 cm

Basal concavity depth: 1.3cm


Two hundred and thirty-one fragments of glass are present in the Plantation collection.  The vessel glass fragments (n=120)  represent a minimum of 13 vessels including five case bottles, three wine bottles, three pharmaceutical bottles and two seventeenth century bottles with unknown shapes. Flat glass was represented by 111 fragments.


G.        Clay Pipes

Eight pieces of what were identified as clay pipes were analyzed. One of these was found to be a  stick or reed  with a hollow center. The remaining fragments consisted of one bowl and one stem fragment, two late seventeenth century large belly bowl fragments, two late seventeenth to early eighteenth century stem/ bowl juncture, and one late seventeenth century heelless funnel pipe bowl with rouletting on the exterior near the rim.


Five hundred and seventy eight clay pipe stem fragments were recovered during the excavations with the majority of them being of the 7/64"size. Of the 429 pipe bowl fragments recovered, seventy can be identified to a particular pipe bowl shape. Ten appear to be from small belly bowls dating from 1600 to 1640, 20 appear to be from medium sized belly bowls dating from 1650 to 1680, 27 appear to be from large belly bowls dating also from 1650 to 1680, and 13 are of the heelless funnel shaped variety dating from 1680 to 1710.


H.        Ceramics

Six fragments of what were identified as ceramics were analyzed from the Cram Collection.  Two of these were nineteenth century whiteware fragments, one was a seventeenth century tin-glazed vessel fragment, one was a seventeenth century English Staffordshire slipware mug base fragment, one modern window glazing fragments and one piece of calcined medium sized mammal longbone. A significant amount of ceramic material is present in the Plantation Collection. The ceramic assemblage will be divided into three groupings those used for cooking, storage and serving. The ceramics used for cooking were of borderware and redware. There were four pipkins, three pan or puddings and two possible redware cooking pots. This grouping is the smallest of the three as would be expected since most of the cooking was done in cast iron pots and copper or brass kettles and in Thomas Cushman's inventory of 1691 he is noted as having brass, iron pots and kettles and other iron vessels listed which amounted to 4 pounds 7 shillings.


The storage grouping included 30 milkpans of redware and North Devon gravel tempered ware, 24 pots or storage jars, three North Devon gravel free baluster jars and six stoneware jugs or bottles. This is the largest group of vessels and they were mostly used for storing letting cream settle in, such as the milkpans, and for storing dairy and other liquid products.


The serving category is the second largest with a total of 40 vessels. Eight redware and stoneware jugs, six redware, tin-glazed and stoneware, and slipware mugs, 2 tin-glazed and sgraffito plates, eight redware and stoneware jugs, two redware and tin-glazed serving dishes, seven redware possible drinking pots, two redware cups, tow redware pitchers, one tin-glazed charger, one redware pot, and two tin-glazed drug or ointment pots. 


I.          Flint

Two fragments of European, likely English, flint are present.  Flint was used for gun flints in flintlock weapons as well as for strike-a-lights which were used for fire starting. The Plantation collection contained 40 pieces of flint: eight grey flint strike-a-lights, two grey flint gunflints, one tan flint gunflint, five burned flint fragments, 18 grey flint fragments, and six tan flint fragments.


The amount of flint recovered indicates that flint nodules were reduced at the site for the production of strike-a-lights and gunflints.