Enter content here

Enter content here

Enter content here

Archaeological investigations within the former territory of the Plymouth Colony have been carried out since Hall's 1850 excavations at his ancestor Myles Standish's homesite in Duxbury. It was not until 1972 though that any of this had significantly contributed to the archaeologist's understanding of the architecture of the Plymouth Colonists. The earliest site, Standish, presented archaeologists with an L- shaped floor plan which until recently noone could decipher. The size of the house did not seem to be of the type which was described by various chroniclers such as Bradford, Winslow and the Dutch-man De Rasiers. The question of what the first houses actually looked like was one which plagued archaeologists at the time. 1972 changed all the pondering. In this year, a local historian, building a house in Kingston, Massachusetts on the Jones River, unearthed several fragments of ceramics which he presented toDr. James Deetz, the staff archaeologist at Plimoth Plantation at the time. Deetz recognized them as being significantly early to organize a field school at the site.

What was uncovered from the site was the floor plan for the first earthfast house recognized as such in the former Plymouth Colony. Local legend stated that the site formerly belonged to Isaac Allerton and then to his daughter Mary and her husband Thomas Cushman. This local legend was substaented by documentary searches as early as 1939 and was reaffirmed by Dr. James Deetz. . The stains in the soil revealed a home 20 by 22 feet oriented northwest to southeast with a cobble stone hearth located in the middle of the east wall. Large post hole up to 12 inches in diameter at the four corners outlined the house. It is known from documentary research that Allerton and others were granted land here in 1627 but the grant stipulated that noone was allowed to move out of the Plantation itself and live on their land for four years. As a result of this law, Allerton probably first moved onto the site in 1631/2 and lived there until he left the colony in 1634. Aside from the posthole pattern and hearth, the evidence left by the Allerton family is scant at the site. The land passed through various hands of people who lived in the Jones River area until it was acquired by Thomas and Mary Cushman in 1653. The Cushmans had been living directly across from the site on the North side of the river probably since they were married in 1636. In 1653 it appears that they relocated their home to the former Allerton property and built their new home directly on the remnants of the earlier house . The Cushman's lived here with their children, partially digging a palisade trench but apparently never completing it and digging a cellar hole directly into the center of Allerton's earlier house. It is not known how large the Cushman's house was, but judging from the cellar hole's size and the architectural styles of the day, it probably was of a square design which appears to be based on the earlier houses built by the colonists. The Cushman's continued to live at the site until Thomas' death in 1691 when the land was given to one of his sons. The house itself either eventually fell apart or was dismantled and noone ever lived at the site again until 1972.

The excavations at the site yielded an excellent collection of ceramics used by the household, many of which are temporally diagnostic to that time. Others, such as the redwares, are somewhat less distinctive, but their forms reveal something about dietary practices at the site during this period. The tobacco pipes were the first ceramic assemblage looked at specifically as a way of investigating to what extent the Isaac Allerton occupation is represented at the site. This was done using pipe bowl shapes and maker's marks to discern when they were in use and by using histogram comparisons with other sites of the stem bore sizes.

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. As can be seen from the histogram comparison with other sites dating from approximately 1630 to the end of the century, the percentage of the various size stems appears to support the hypothesis that the site was initially Isaac Allerton's and later was Thomas Cushman's. 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 heeless funnel shaped variety dating from 1680 to 1710

The maker's marks also coordinate well with the date ranges for the shapes of the pipes from the site. Two heels from unknown shaped bowls bear a crowned Tudor Rose on their bases . This mark appears to be Dutch and dates from 1590 to 1670. Seven stems bear the marks of LLewellin Evans who was Bristol pipe maker from 1661 to 1689 and five bear routing around the stems which is similar to that found on the Evans pipes and is attributable to the Bristol makers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Five stems bear the marks of the Fleur-de-Lis which has been attributed to the Dutch and dating from approximately 1650 to the 1670s . There is one bowl which bears the initials EB on the base of the heel which probably belongs to Edward Bird who was a pipe maker in Holland before 1630 and who continued producing until 1665. Another Dutch mark from a heel is an eight pointed star stamped on the base and dates from 1620 to 1660. Several bowl heels bear marks which are �not attributable to any specific maker at this time, all of which are on the base of the heels. They are the initials HK, the initials IS, who may be John Symonds who was making pipes at Bristol in 1651 or John Sinderling who also was making pipes in Bristol 1668-99, and the initials RB which may be Richard Berryman who was making pipes at Bristol from 1619-1652 or Robert Browning who made pipes in Bristol from 1669 until sometime before 1706. There is also a rather unique teardrop shaped heel on a bowl which has a shape which is datable from 1620 to 1660. This heel bears a shape which appears to be similar to Dutch examples from the first half of the seventeenth century. .

Two redware pipe bowl fragments were recovered also. One is a heel fragment which appears to be from a medium sized belly bowl and the other more remarkable fragment has an incised design on its side which identifies it as being a product of Virginia. Dr. Stephen Pendery who has done a great deal of work on redware pipes in New England, stated that the motif may be of the running deer motif .

One other pipe stem is present in the assemblage and even though it is not of clay it is worth noting here. This is a fragment of gray green steatite or soapstone, native made pipe stem. While this pipe may have been used by the Wampanoag inhabitants of the site prior to the 1616 to 1618 epidemic, there is also the strong possibility that it was used either by the Allerton or Cushman families. Soapstone pipes are noted in at least one probate inventory of the period. This was in the 1643 inventory of William Kemp. William Wood, an observer of the colony in 1634, noted that: "From hence (the Narragansetts) they have their great stone pipes, which will hold a quarter of an ounce of tobacco, which they make with steel drills and other instruments......they can imitate the English mold so accurately that were it not for the matter and color it were hard to distinguish them. They make them of black and green stone; they are much desired of our English tobacconists for their rarity, strength, handsomness, and coolness." (Wood 81). Stone pipes have also been recovered from other sites within the former Plymouth Colony such as the RM site in Plymouth and the Winslow site in Marshfield, Massachusetts. From this previous discussion of the pipes from the site, the dating of the site is confirmed, including the earlier Allerton period. It also touched upon the distances from which some of the artifacts used on the site came form. The Bristol and Holland pipes begin to illustrate some of the European sources for the material while the Virginian redware pipes and the native made soapstone illustrate the colonial which was occurring.

Looking next at the ceramics themselves from the site, three points will be focused on. The first is the source of the ceramic wares, the second is the variety and percentages of the wares in the assemblage, and finally the forms of the vessels recovered will be looked at to see how the correlate with the foodways practices of the period. The ceramics from the two occupations are somewhat difficult to separate because of the overlapping time periods for some of them, but they will be attempted to be discussed as seperate occupations when possible. Six classes of ceramics were present in the assemblage and will be discussed in the following order: Borderware, Tin-glazed earthenware, Slipware, Stoneware, North devon wares, and finally, the largest category, Redware. The redware category will be divided into first common redwares, second Italian marble wares, and finally unidentified redware.

As is the rule at any English site, redwares account for the largest percentage of the ceramic assemblage. At the Allerton/ Cushman site, of the 116 vessels, 79, or 68.1%, of those are of redware. While redware is somewhat of a stepchild in ceramic analysis, with not much new research occurring since Laurie Watkins 1968 pioneer work on New England Potters and their Wares, they are one of the most unbiased ceramic types. Basically everyone used redware vessels for cooking, serving, storing and processing foods, and since the were so common and utilitarian they provide us with a unique look at the foodways at the site. At this site, a wide variety of vessel forms were recovered. . Twenty-seven redware milk pans were present in the assemblage. All but one of these had a plain lead glaze on the interior ranging from a clear glaze to one which has a brown tint to it. One unique specimen was unglazed on the interior and exterior but was burnished on the interior, possibly as a way of making it somewhat water resistant in leiu of glazing. This type of redware has not been reported at any other site at this time and it may represent a vessel in use during the Allerton period at the site. It is possibly reminiscent of earlier Medieval pottery techniques in England, and since this vessel is of redware and was so utilitarian it probably was not an imported ware from an other European country.

. Twenty-five pots or storage jars were also present in the assemblage. These vessels which were used to store everything from butter and later to pickles had glaze colors which ranged from clear to a very dark brown almost a black. Many different rim shapes were in the assemblage as well, with some representing forms in use during different parts of the century. . While all of the pots bear pronounced rims to enable a cloth cover to be tied over it, three of them bore a rather unique rim shape which was very pronounced. It appears that throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries pot shapes and rims evolved from a form with a somewhat bulbous body shape and very pronounnced rim sometime around the middle of the century to ones which became increasingly strait sided until in the eighteenth century they hardly had a rim on them at all. A pot of this style has been found at one other site, the Ezra Perry II homesite in Bourne, Massachusetts in a trench feature dated circa 1676.

Two redware cooking pots and one pipkin were recovered and these, along with the three pans or puddings recovered are the only evidence of the use of redware cooking vessels.

Sixteen vessels, 13.8% of the redware, were in the form of serving vessels. Two cups, seven possible drinking pots, three pitchers, two jugs, and two dishes make up this assemblage. Most of them are glazed on the interior as well as the exterior with colors ranging from clear glaze to dark brown to green. Only two of the possible drinking pots appear to be only glazed on the interior. One of the possible serving dishes was decorated with a slip decoration in a star pattern. It appears similar to other American made slip decorated plates in the collections and was probably made in the 1680s based on the fact that it appears that New England potters did not start using this decoration technique until that time. None of the other vessels were decorated with any sort of slip, and only a few had raised ridges on the exterior.

While none of these redwares can be tightly dated, most appear to represent forms and shapes which were predomininant in the middle to late seventeenth century, with a few probably coming from the Allerton period. It is not known where the redwares at the site came from as well. By the middle part of the century the redware kilns were well established in New England so it has been speculated that most of the redwares found on American sites originated from colonial kilns. The large pebble inclusions within some of the vessels at the site also appear to favor a local source for redwares. Perhaps with further study of the redwares from this site, some of the confusion can be settled, since Allerton surely used English made redwares at his homesite and the Cushmans probably used more locally made vessels.

One final redware type is an Italian slipware bowl or dish. This ceramic type dates from 1610 to 1660 and appears to have been widely used on Dutch sites and possibly by colonies such as Plymouth who had trade with the Dutch. It also may have come from England or even from a Venetian ship, at least one of which was known to have traded in New England waters (Wilcoxen:77). Considering the Dutch tobacco pipes at the site there is a strong argument that since the Dutch were trading this ceramic type in the colonies it could have come from that source. The date range for these ceramics overlaps both periods, but Hume states that they appear to be more common in the first half of the seventeenth century and this may place it in the Allerton household, but the argument could be made for it being an artifact of the Cushman's house.

Stonewares comprise the second largest category of ceramics from the site with sixteen vessels or 13.8% of the total ceramic assemblage. Five stoneware types are included within the sixteen vessels but all of them appear to be German gray stonewares with various glazes and decorative techniques. Stonewares produced in the Westerwald region of Germany represent seven vessels. . Five of these are in the form of jugs, two of which are decorated with only cobalt and three which are decorated with cobalt and manganese. The use of the manganese on the jugs and mugs from the Westerwald region is known to be a decorative technique which began around 1660 to 1665 (Hume, Hurst 222) so at least three of these jugs can be associated with the Cushman period based on glaze color alone. The other two which have cobalt decoration appear to be a very bulbous form which is 2 1/2' wide at the rim with a 6" diameter body. One of the jugs of this type is probably a middle to late century form as compared to examples found in New York (Wilcoxen 74). The other vessel appears very similar to an example from Belgium and is dated at 1600-1625 (Hurst 225). This vessel is obviously from the Allerton period.

The decorative techniques on the later century vessels are of two sorts, one of which has been described as the "snowshoe" pattern by Baker working on the collections at the Clarke and Lake site in Maine, and the other is a molded rosette. Both of these decorative techniques were employed on vessels at the Cushman and the Clarke and lake Company site which dates from 1654 to 1676. This technique appears to represent a middle century form possibly after the decorations on the vessels were stylistically freed from the panels which contained them in the earlier period. The other two Westerwald vessels are mugs of form well known to archaeologists dealing with late seventeenth to eighteenth century sites and date to the Cushman period.

. The second type of stoneware is of a small bulbous variety made in the Frenchen region of Germany which is the same locale that the well known Bartmankrugs, A.K.A. Bellarmines, were also made. These vessels are in the form of bottles similar in shape to the Bellarmines except they do not bear the molded masks and medallions of the Bellarmines. In their place they are plain or one has a molded rose shape on it. One of the jugs is a very squat, possibly 8 inches high, brown glazed vessel which appears characteristic of the type which would have been produced in the Allerton period between 1600 and 1625 or possibly 1634. The jug with the molded rose appears to be a product of Frenchen that was copying the Rareren vessels of the last half of the 1500s. Both of these vessels date to the Allerton period.

. Two of the well-known Bellarmine bottles were recovered. One bears rather well molded arms from an unidentified city and the other is fragmentary and cannot be identified at this time. The first one with the well molded arms probably dates from the Allerton period and the other may date to either period. . While all of the above described stonewares can be attributed to Germany, one of them is a product of the Normandy region in Northern France. Normandy stoneware is charecterized by the dark purple brown fabric and is either glazed with a brown glaze or is unglazed. In England it commonly occurs from approximately 1550 through the 20th century. The earliest dated North American assemblage is from Samuel de Champlain's Habitation of 1604 at Sainte-Croix in Maine. The vessel form appears to be a storage jar and is unglazed. It is unknown what period of occupancy this vessel is from, but the vessel from the site appears to have fairly strait sides, which is similar to examples from Champlain's Habitation so it may date to the Allerton period.Vessels such as this have been noted as having been found in England throughout the centuries so this vessel may have come indirectly from France through England, or it may have .come from the French in Maine, since Allerton was involved in the Maine fur trade.

. The second type of stoneware not attributable to Germany is a product of the Raeren region which is situated in Belgium very close to the German border. The form is a jug with a molded design below the rim and around the midsection. Jugs of this type are very rare and as far as is known at the present time have not been reported at another North American site. The decorative type which appears to be representative of this type was developed by Jan Emens in the 1570s and continued until the first quarter of the seventeenth century. Obviously from the early date of this rare vessel it is most likely that it dates to the Allerton period, especially since it is of such a highly valued ware and may have even been brought over with Allerton on the original crossing

. The next class of ceramics to be looked at are the North Devon gravel tempered and gravel free wares. . Two North Devon gravel tempered milkpans comprise the vessels of this type of ware. These were produced in the Devon region of England from 1660-1700. Three Baluster jars make up the North Devon Gravel Free wares. These were used for storing liquids and date from c. 1600-1680 and closely resemble Baluster jar fragments recovered from the Ezra Perry II site in a 1673 context. The baluster jars from the Allerton/ Cushman site could date to either period.

. Three varieties of English slipware are present at the site. The first is a Wrotham slipware mug. This ceramic was produced from 1612 to 1700 and is noted for its dark glaze and trailed slip design. This vessel may date from either occupation, but it appears stylistically similar to a mug recovered at the Ezra perry II site which was occupied from 1673-1723.

. The second variety is scraffitto which occurs in the form of two plates and one pot. None of the fragments are really large enough to discern what the design was but one of the plates bears a curved linear and punctate design. This ceramic type was made in the Devon region of England from 1650 to 1710 and as a result would belong to the Cushman period.

. The final form of English slipware is combed slipware in the form of two mugs. This ceramic type was first produced in 1670 and gained in popularity in the colonies before it was no longer produced in 1795. It was also produced in the Devon region of England and belongs to the Cushman period.

. The next ceramic type is one of the least reported in New England. This is an English ware known as borderware. Borderware was produced in the border area of northeast Hampshire and west Surrey especially during the 16th and 17th centuries and ceased in the early 18th century (Pearce 191992: 1). The bodies of the borderwares are of a cream to off-white fabric with green, brown and yellow glazes being the most commonly occurring. One yellow glazed pipkin cooking pot of a style produced from 1600-1640 and one dark olive glazed pipkin of a form dating from 1650-1700 are present in the Allerton/ Cushman collection. While many of the sites in Plimoth Plantations collections contain this ware, the author was unable to find any identified pieces from other published North American sites. It is similar to some of the other European Utility wares of the period such as French Saintoage ware and Dutch utility wares, but the vessel forms are distinctly English. The yellow glazed vessel appears to date from the Allerton period while the olives glazed pipkin dates from the Cushman period. One porringer with an apple green glaze appears by the glaze color to be different from the English borderwares judging by the glaze color and may be a product of the Saintonage region in France. Buff bodied earthenware from France have been found at at least one other English site of the seventeenth century. That is the Cushnoc site in Augusta, Maine. This vessel probably dates from the Cushman occupation.

The final category of ceramics from the site are tin-glazed earthenwares. All except one appear to date from the Cushman period. There were three plates with various decorative techniques employed on them. Only four vessels have been definitely identified at this time. One is a Blue and white decorated plate which has a body form associated with English producers from the late seventeenth century. One charger was identified from the site with a blue dash design on the rim. This type of decorative technique was employed in the 1660s and onward in England. Finally one drug pot of a form dating from approximately 1660 and one ointment pot of a type dating from the first half of the seventeenth century decorated on the exterior with blue and white.

The ceramics which are the most likely to date from the Allerton period are as follows:

2 unglazed and burnished redware milkpans

1 Westerwald Jug

1 Raeren jug

2 Frenchen bottles

1 Baartmannkrug bottle

1 Normandy Stoneware

1 Tin-glazed ointment pot

1 Borderware pipkin

For a total of 10 vessels

. The ceramics which could be from either period are:

78 assorted redware vessels

1 Wrotham slip decorated mug

3 Baluster Jars

1 Italian Marbellized ware platter

112 assorted Redware vessels

Which is a total of 83 vessels.

The ceramics which date to the Cushamn period are:

4 Westerwald jugs

2 Westerwald mugs

1 Bellarmine bottle

2 North Devon gravel tempered milk pans

2 Scraffitto plates

1 Scraffitto pot

2 Combed slipware mugs

1 Borderware pipkin\

1 Saintonage Porringer

3 Tin-glazed Plates and Platters

1 Tin-glazed drug pot

For a total of 20 vessels.

To summarize the ceramics form the site before moving on to the status of the occupants at the house, 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 tinglazed and Scraffitto 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 tinglazed drup or ointment pots.

The evidence for the three to four year occupation of the site by Isaac Allerton and his family appears limited to four post holes, a hearth, stains from the sills of the houe, a few pipe bowls and stems, and a few vessels which appear to have belonged to his family. Most of the material recovered from the site appears to belong to the Thomas and Mary Cushman family period which is sensible since they lived at the site nineteen times longer than the Allerton's did. Both Thomas and Mary were Mayflower passemgers, although they were both fairly young when they crossed the Atlantic and Mary Cushman was actually the last Mayflower passenger to die. They spent their childhood and early life in the Plimoth Plantation itself until their marriage around 1636. At this time they moved to Thomas' land on the North side of the Jones river. They remained at this site until 1653 when they moved to the south side of the river onto Mary father's former land.

When Thomas Cushman died in 1691, he left behind a substantial accumulation of land within Plymouth Colony. In the immediate area of his house on the Jones river he left 80 acres of upland and meadow which he divided among his sons. In Middleboro, Massachusetts, he left land at Namasket Pond and land which he called part of the 16 shilling purchase also in Middleboro. There was also an addendum to his will which stated that he had left out 100 acres of land in Plymouth on Colchester Brooke which he left to be divided among his sons. His total estate was valued at 49 pounds and 19 shillings with the highest valued item being neat cattell valued at 13 pounds. Of the 72 probates on file in Plimoth for the years of 1684 to 1695, only 26 had estates valued less than Cushman's. Almost all of the items in his inventory appear to be commonly occurring ones in inventories of the period with only his library of books appearing out of place. It was valued at 4 pounds and it appears that he valued it so highly that he listed within his will as to be distributed to his sons.

Thomas and Mary Cushman continued the precedent established by Mary's father Isaac. Fine ceramics of many forms and wares were in use. This correlates well with the status of the Cushmans. They were noted in Thomas' will of 1691 as owning over 180 acres of land in Plymouth and nearby Middleboro, Massachusetts and the estate was valued at approximately 50 pounds. This places them well above average. Thomas was the Elder of the Church in Plymouth for a time which of itself was a high status position. Even their settlement area on the Jones River approximately five miles north of Plymouth was one where many well established families resided.

Other aspects of the Cushman's place within the Colony are still being investigated in conjunction with the continuing analysis of the materials from the site.