Raise your hand if you like archaeology. Okay, now raise your hand if it’s been too long since you last visited the beautiful grounds of Gloucester’s historic Warner Hall. Anybody with a love of local history? How about a Revolutionary War enthusiast? Go ahead, raise your hand for those things, too. Or maybe colonial re-enactments get you jazzed? Love the smell of gunpowder in the air? Interested in events that are family friendly, educational, and fun? Are you out of hands yet?
Well, here’s the deal: Next weekend is your big opportunity to participate in all of the above, wrapped up into one big event! On Saturday and Sunday, October 19 and 20, the British, American, and French forces will once again descend upon the grounds of Warner Hall to re-enact the Battle of the Hook, a crucial part of the 1781 Yorktown Campaign that led to General George Washington’s victory over the British forces.
In the midst of this Revolutionary War action, staff and volunteers of the Fairfield Foundation will be on the grounds leading a public excavation in front of Warner Hall’s 18th-century west dependency. Our goal is to provide an educational experience for visitors attending the battle, and we welcome volunteers of all ages to come join us and try your hand at archaeology, as part of a fun-filled weekend. So if you’ve always wanted to participate in archaeological excavation while troops drill and march in the background, with period music in the air, farm animals nearby, and craftsman milling about, then this event has your name written all over it!
Many of you may remember the success of the inaugural Battle of the Hook re-enactment in October of 2008. In preparation for the 2008 event, the Fairfield Foundation conducted archaeology in advance of the construction of a camp kitchen, planned by event organizers as part of the Revolutionary War scenery on the Warner Hall grounds. During the re-enactment weekend itself, staff and volunteers excavated two additional test units to the southwest of the small brick barn, near the edge of the landscaped yard surrounding the Warner Hall house.
Jessica Taylor teachers future archaeologists during the 2008 Battle of the Hook.
The artifacts recovered during this excavation reflected a mixture of 17th- to 20th-century objects, including ceramics such as a large American Blue and Gray stoneware crock fragment with a lug handle and a Westerwald chamber pot rim fragment. The 18th- and 19th-century deposits of domestic ceramics and glasswares were consistent with disposal patterns related to the nearby kitchen building, and appear to relate directly to the edge of the kitchen yard. A posthole identified in one of the test units may indicate a fenceline that once marked this boundary between activity areas.
Who knows what we might uncover during this year’s excavations near the west dependency! In addition to participating in archaeology with us, visitors and volunteers will also have a chance to view a collection of rare Revolutionary War artifacts, on display in the west dependency. Come out to the Battle of the Hook for a fantastic fall weekend of history, archaeology, and entertainment. We will be on site from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday, and from 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday. There will be a lot going on at Warner Hall throughout the weekend, so make sure to visit the Battle of the hook website for a full schedule of events!