The Maryland Historical Trust’s Office of Archaeology is delighted to participate in the celebration of Preservation Month by highlighting the Ice Age inhabitants of Maryland, which archaeologists refer to as Paleoindians. Researchers can recognize Paleoindians in the archaeological record by the distinctive types of stone projectile points they made, which are typically lanceolate in shape and usually fluted (i.e. thinned from the base to create a channel scar). The re-established Maryland Fluted Point Survey is generating data to learn more about the lifeways of the Paleoindians who lived in Maryland between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago.
In 1979, as part of the Maryland Fluted Point Survey, Lois Brown reported one crystal quartz fluted point from the Nolands Ferry Site and one crystal quartz fluted point from the Katcef Site.
Subsequently, Dr. Darrin Lowery has shared information on the fluted points from the Paw Paw Cove Site with the Maryland Fluted Point Survey.
The re-established Maryland Fluted Point survey has recently recorded a second fluted point from the Katcef Site.
The two fluted points from the Katcef Site (both the crystal quartz point and the newly recorded orthoquartzite one) were found by Robert Ogle, a professional surveyor and avocational archaeologist who spent over 50 years collecting artifacts from central and southern Maryland and Virginia. In 2009, Bob Ogle donated his artifact collection to Anne Arundel County’s Cultural Resources Division. Through a grant from the MHT’s FY 2020 Historic Preservation Non-Capital Grant Program, Anne Arundel County’s Cultural Resources Division is rehousing, enhancing, and studying Ogle’s collection. As part of their grant project, Anne Arundel County’s Cultural Resources Division has organized public workshops to assist in sorting and rehousing the Ogle materials. During a recent workshop, the second fluted point from Katcef was discovered in Ogle’s collection.
The newly discovered fluted point from Katcef is a mid-section fragment, which is identified as a fluted point based on the distal terminations of the flutes present on both faces. The raw material of the fluted point is a large grained orthoquartzite, a preferred toolstone during the Paleoindian period. Paleoindians likely procured the stone material from Maryland’s coastal plain at quarry localities exposed along an ancient paleochannel of the Susquehanna River, which was created due to the lower sea-levels caused by glaciation during the terminal Pleistocene (Lowery and Wagner 2018). Due to deglaciation, sea-level rise, and sediment infilling over the past 13,000 years, the Susquehanna paleochannel and associated quarry localities are now inundated by the Chesapeake Bay. Systematic test excavations at the Katcef site in 1989 and 1990 identified stratified archaeological deposits, which suggests that there is the potential for deeply buried Paleoindian activity areas to be present at the site. Future research aimed at locating and carefully investigating stratified areas of Katcef to document buried Paleoindian materials may yield valuable information about the early inhabitants of Maryland, perhaps including the recovery of archaeological features like hearths that could provide radiocarbon datable materials and evidence for Paleoindian diet in Maryland.
By Kelly Palich, Howard County Recreation and Parks, Upper Patuxent Archaeology Group
Located north of the Fall Line, the Upper Patuxent River valley is located within the Piedmont Plateau, an area characterized by rolling hills and many rivers and their tributaries. During early colonial settlement, this area was considered “barren”, or without timber, thought to be caused by the common Native American practice of burning large areas to encourage use by wild game (Mayre 1955). As a result, this region was believed unfertile and often described as “remote and not likely to be settled in sometime.” (Mayre 1921: 128).
As arable land became less available throughout the tidal region, and more settlers immigrated to Maryland, tobacco plantations began to appear north of the Fall line as early as 1720. Over the past year, archaeologists and volunteers with the Upper Patuxent Archaeology Group (UPAG), and staff from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) have investigated the Raven Site (18HO252). Normally inundated by the waters of the Patuxent River backed up behind Brighton Dam, the Raven Site represents one of the earliest colonial tobacco plantations documented archaeologically in Howard County. The goal of our investigation was to relocate a previously identified subfloor pit feature, and attempt to locate a purported early 18th century plantation house and outbuildings while waters in WSSC’s Triadelphia Reservoir were in retreat due to scheduled dam maintenance.
The Raven Site was initially identified in 2002 by archaeologists Wayne Clark and Paul Inashima, while surveying the area for Native American resources (2003). During their survey, they observed fragments of Rhenish Blue and Gray and Brown Salt-glazed Stoneware, and a fragment of a 17th-century Bellarmine Jug (these artifacts were not collected and could not be relocated in subsequent investigations). It was later speculated that this area might have been the location of a late 17th- to early 18th-century ranger station, which served to protect plantations on Maryland’s frontier. The site was recorded, but no further work was conducted.
During a period of historically low water levels in 2006, archaeologists and volunteers from The Lost Towns Projects, Inc. conducted a three-day salvage investigation, including a controlled surface collection and non-ferrous metal detecting survey, to document this site and protect it from the immediate threat of looting. Archaeologists identified a core 200 X 200 foot area consisting of a high concentration of artifacts, as well as a possible subfloor pit feature. The investigation also entailed archival research on the location of the site. What they found proved that the area was in fact not a 17th-century ranger station, but an early-mid 18th-century tobacco plantation, one of the earliest settled in the Piedmont region of Anne Arundel County (Howard County was not established until 1850 – present day Howard County was the western hinterland frontier of Anne Arundel).
In 1732, Thomas Hutchcraft, planter, received a 175-acre patent, “Hutchcraft’s Fortune”. Thomas Hutchcraft, born in Surrey, England in 1696, immigrated to the colonies with his wife Hannah and established his plantation after his initial land purchase. In 1748, he purchased a second 302-acre patent, “Victory” adjoining his “Fortune” land. He eventually sold off land from his plantation, selling 50 acres of “Victory” to Robert Wright in 1756, 415 acres and three enslaved laborers to Phillip Hammond, and 54 acres of “Fortune” to William Ray Junior in 1764. Prior to his death in 1770, he sold the remaining 361 acres of his land holdings to Benjamin Purnell, including the land that contained his house site.
We have recently acquired Hutchcraft’s probate inventory which lists his belongings at time of death. His estate, valued at 315 pounds, placed him in the middling socioeconomic bracket. Upon his death, he had six enslaved laborers and four white servants in his employ (minus the three enslaved persons he sold to Phillip Hammond in 1756). He owned much livestock, including a steer, cows, hogs, sheep, and horses. Perhaps Hutchcraft was one of the earlier farmers to diversify his crops, for he is listed as having wheats, oat, and corn aside from Tobacco crop. He is also listed as having a hand mill and two spinning wheels, which suggested other means of income within the household. Records such as these are extremely valuable for archaeologists when analyzing material culture from the field!
During the 2006 investigations, The Lost Towns crew recovered 1,120 artifacts, most of which dated between 1700-1780, and represented a middling tobacco plantation. Artifacts recovered included a variety of ceramics, pewter, brick and window glass suggesting at least some level of wealth (see the slideshow below). Given the general size of the plantation acreage, and the fact that Hutchcraft owned several enslaved laborers, this again supports his status as a middling planter of the early to mid-18th century.
The 2006 investigation was able to determine a relative date for the site and locate (but not fully excavate) one cultural feature (Feature 1). An analysis of artifact distribution allowed archaeologists to interpret the possible location of the original structure. Due to severe soil deflation, further work was not deemed critical, but further research on the feature was recommended to fully understand the history of site occupation.
The 2019-2020 season saw another period of dam repair and draught and another round of historically low water levels. The Upper Patuxent Archaeology Group was contacted by WSSC staff, who were interested in further research on the Raven Site. Our initial goal was to continue to document surface distribution, conduct a non-discriminating metal detecting survey (to locate nail patterning or “nail clouds” for structure identification), and relocate the feature identified by the Lost Towns Crew in 2006. We aimed to conduct further excavations that would interpret Feature 1 and help determine whether or not the Hutchcraft home site was truly located.
During the initial 2019 round of surface collection, we were able to document and retrieve at least 2,000 additional artifacts (number pending lab processing), as well as relocate Feature 1. Metal Detecting also identified nail clouds in an area outside of the original 200 X 200 foot survey grid, identifying the potential location of buildings associated with the Hutchcraft Plantation.
Based on our surface findings, a larger grid was established (400 X 400 foot square), encompassing the original 200 X 200 ft area as well as additional locations of interest exposed in 2019. After several attempts at relocating the original grid datum, we were able to pinpoint the area where the feature was most likely located and four 10 X 10 foot units were placed. Luckily, since the soils were heavily deflated due to water action beneath Triadelphia Reservoir, it did not take long to strip the very thin layer of silt and expose Feature 1.
Given the size of the feature (an irregularly-shaped pit measuring at least 8 X 10 feet) and the presence of daub and a lot of burnt and butchered bones, a quick field interpretation identified this feature not as a sub floor pit in a house, but a clay borrow pit later filled in over time with trash and butchering waste. A clay borrow pit, archaeologically speaking, is a hole or pit that was intentionally dug to extract natural clays for the making of brick or daub for construction. Other artifacts, including sleeve cufflinks, tobacco pipes, ceramics, and horse hardware were recovered. The variety of artifacts further supports a later trash deposit.
While a great quantity of hand wrought nails were recovered from Feature 1, little architectural evidence was documented. During the initial controlled surface survey and metal detecting, however, another area, outside of the original 200 X 200 foot grid, yielded a great quantity of window glass and a few clusters of nails, suggesting the presence of a decent-sized structure. The concentration of nails identified during metal detecting piqued our interest and we reached out to Matt McKnight, Chief Archaeologist at MHT, to seek his assistance with remote sensing. Our hope (with dam repairs complete and the waters in the reservoir rising) was that remote sensing could help us further identify buried features in a timely manner.
With the help of Matt, Zac Singer and Troy Nowak of MHT, we were able to survey a 50 meter (north-south) by 40 meter (east-west) area at the eastern edge of our survey area. Data recovered using a Fluxgate Gradiometer and a Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) were combined and mapped along with some of the UPAG nail cloud and artifact data. While most areas within our original 400 X 400 foot block did not present anything substantial, the southeastern portion of the remote sensing area, remarkably close to the current waterline, presented interesting data!
The gradiometer results suggested that a number of anomalies were situated in the eastern and southeastern portions of the remote sensing survey area. But it was the GPR that really revealed what was present in those areas. Technology is amazing! The MHT crew was able to detect a roughly 45 x 80 foot anomaly, a probable foundation with a possible porch abutment on the northwest side of the house (facing the original river channel). The short axis of this structural anomaly appears to fit perfectly in-between the two concentrations of architectural artifacts as sketched by field crew (the two blue polygons in the image below). This could possibly correspond to the front and back entrances of the house! Naturally, as any archaeological project goes – you always find the most exciting piece of information on the last day possible and thanks to rising waters and the global pandemic that has kept us all home bound, we haven’t had the chance to get back out to do more investigating!
We are in the process of cataloging and analyzing all the data thus far collected and hope to revisit the site as soon as we can! As of now, this is the earliest and northern-most documented middling tobacco plantation on the Patuxent River, and we hope to learn a lot through further investigations. Much of the “official” colonial history of Howard County begins with the Ellicott brothers. Hopefully, this site will shed new light into the period of colonial settlement that preceded them. At a time in Howard County history where many farmers were switching from Tobacco as cash crop to a more diversified economy, it will be interesting to see how these changes play out archaeologically!
If you are interested in volunteering with this project or have any information to share regarding early 18th century plantation archaeology in the Piedmont, please contact Kelly Palich at email@example.com.
Clark, Wayne E., and Paul Inashima 2003 Archaeological Investigations within the Duckett and Triadelphia Reservoirs – Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. On file at the Maryland Historical Trust, Crownsville, Maryland.
Mayre, William B. 1921 The Baltimore County “Garrison” and the Old Garrison Roads. Maryland Historical Magazine 16(2).
1955 The Great Maryland Barrens: I. Maryland Historical Magazine 50(1-3).
Schiszik, Lauren and Al Luckenbach 2006 A Controlled Surface Collection and Metal Detector Survey of the Raven Site (18HO252) at Tridelphia Reservoir, Howard County, Maryland. Prepared for Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission. Anne Arundel County Trust for Preservation. On file at the Maryland Historical Trust, Crownsville, Maryland.
The Maryland Historical Trust is pleased to welcome Dr. Zachary Singer as Research Archeologist in the Office of Research, Survey, and Registration. Zac will primarily be responsible for maintaining the Maryland Archeological Synthesis Project, summarizing Phase II and III compliance archeology reports in MHT’s library. Zac will also participate in grants management, archeological fieldwork, and will conduct research on collections entrusted to MHT’s care.
Zac’s interest in Maryland archeology was first piqued as a student at Towson High School, when he interned with Dr. Bob Wall of Towson University, studying his Paleoindian assemblage from the Barton site. Zac went on to earn his B.A. at the University of Maryland, College Park and gained field experience under the direction of Dr. Stephen Brighton and Dr. David Gadsby. Zac took a hiatus from Maryland archeology to earn his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut where he excavated and analyzed New England Paleoindian sites under the guidance of Dr. Kevin McBride, Dr. Jonathan Lothrop, Dr. Daniel Adler, and the late Dr. Brian Jones.
After receiving his doctorate, Zac returned to Maryland to teach and conduct research, once again, in the archeology of his home state. Prior to joining MHT, Zac taught and conducted research through a Visiting Assistant Professorship at Towson University, as an adjunct professor at Washington College, as a 2016 and 2017 Gloria S. King Research Fellow at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, as a contractual archeologist for Anne Arundel County’s Cultural Resources Division, and as Public Programs Coordinator for the Lost Towns Project, Inc.
Zac’s major research interest is Maryland’s prehistoric occupations with a particular focus on studying the Paleoindian period to refine interpretations of Maryland’s earliest inhabitants. Zac is also keen on collections based research, analyzing (or re-analyzing) artifact collections generated by both professional and avocational archeologists in order to glean information about Maryland’s past.
By Stephanie Soder, 2019 Summer Intern in Maryland Archeology
Having recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Maritime Studies (Archeology), I was excited when I was chosen as the Maryland Historical Trust’s summer intern. I grew up just over the Mason-Dixon border in Pennsylvania and spent about half of my life in Maryland, so I was happy to be back in the state I considered “home”. The MHT Archeology staff wasted no time in throwing me into the chaos of gearing up for the annual Tyler Bastian Field Session that was taking place at Billingsley House in Prince George’s County.
Though the Billingsley House dates to the 18th century, this 11-day field session focused on finding two 17th-century Native American villages. I was charged with keeping the field lab running smoothly and the site forms organized. Water buckets and toothbrushes came out every day for artifact washing, allowing volunteers to take a break from digging in the heat. Every tenth bucket coming from each unit was water screened through a ⅛” mesh, hoping to reveal small trade beads (and creating quite the mess). By the end of the session, 12 units had been opened, resulting in artifacts ranging from pre-colonial lithics and ceramics to nails, faunal remains, and fire-cracked rock. Thanks to the hard efforts of the lab volunteers, almost all of the artifacts were washed and weighed by the end of the last day.
The remaining time of my internship was split between a
variety of projects. I was able to work on projects that met my interests, and
though I love to be out in the field, I challenged myself by taking on tasks
that I was not as familiar with: Section 106 review and compliance, artifact
identification, and remote sensing.
Compliance archeology focuses on ensuring that federal and
state funded projects limit impacts to the historical integrity of sites around
Maryland. Dixie Henry and Beth Cole shared their expectations for compliance
reports and gave me federal and state standards for archeology and
architectural studies to read. They then allowed to me to review some
compliance reports and tag along on a consultation meeting with the National
Park Service to mitigate impacts to historic sites while building their new C
& O Canal Headquarters. The time I spent learning about compliance has
reinforced my appreciation for the work that goes into protecting our historical
My graduate research focused largely on Pacific Islander culture and modern conflict, so getting familiar with artifacts found throughout Maryland was a necessity. I spent much of the second half of my internship in the lab cleaning, identifying, and photographing artifacts from previously completed fieldwork in Janes Island State Park (Somerset County). I then began working on site forms and compiled a report that highlighted research on each type of artifact find. There’s no better way to learn how to complete a task than getting to do it first-hand, and I feel that my time working with the artifacts helped familiarize me with examples found around Maryland and the resources available for identification.
Most of my previous work involved excavation or evaluation with very little training in remote sensing. Under the tutelage of Matt McKnight and Charlie Hall, I learned how to run a magnetic susceptibility meter and a fluxgate gradiometer. Putting what I had learned to the test, we set out for a new site that may be associated with an ordinary dating from the origins of Caroline County. I assisted with using the gradiometer and practiced with the magnetic susceptibility meter. The collected data will help with future work on the site by the Caroline County Historical Society. Out on Janes Island, Troy Nowak put me to work completing a side-scan sonar and bathymetric survey in Maryland waters. With a steady hand and concentration, I learned to follow transect lines while driving a boat in order to collect data consistently. The rest of the week was spent surveying the shoreline and tracking how it has changed over time in order to evaluate potential impacts on historical sites.
My summer at MHT came to an end far too quickly, but it has
been an extremely rewarding experience. It has helped prepare me for a career
in Maryland, and I’d like to thank the entire staff at MHT for their guidance,
patience, and for providing me this amazing opportunity.
As Maryland Archeology Month draws to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you, the reader, to attend our Annual Field Session in Maryland Archeology which will be held jointly with the Archeological Society of Maryland (ASM) from Friday, May 24th until Monday, June 3rd.
Every year, dozens of volunteers from around the state converge on a site selected for its research potential and importance to the history or prehistory of the state. They will make significant contributions to a citizen science project and obtain training in archeological excavation methods. If you’ve ever had an interest in archeology, you should consider joining us. Your participation can range from as little as a few hours of work, to the entire 11-day field session.
This year’s excavations will be held at Billingsley House near Upper Marlboro in Prince George’s County. Owned by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Billingsley is operated as a historic house museum by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), who have graciously agreed to host and to assist with the excavations and project logistics this year.
Though the house museum dates later (to the 18th century), the site is the core of a 700 acre tract that was patented to Major John Billingsley in 1662, “…for transportation of 14 servants in the year 1650”. Though it’s pretty clear from the archival record that Major Billingsley never actually lived on the property, a European-built structure is depicted on the parcel on a map of the Chesapeake published by Augustine Herrman in 1673 (and drafted much earlier). Whether or not this structure depicts an actual dwelling or is merely intended to symbolize surveyed and patented land is still an open question. What is not in question, is that the tract was inhabited.
The Herrman map marks the presence of not one, but two 17th-century Indian villages on the Billingsley parcel: one named “Wighkawamecq” and the other, “Coppahan”. In addition, the Proceedings of the Maryland Assembly on May 23rd, 1674 make it clear that Billingsley purchased his 700 acres from the “Mattapany and Patuxon Indians”, at least some of whom, “…doe Continue upon the Land”. This statement, as well as Herrman’s map, strongly suggest that two indigenous groups were living on this land in the mid 17th century.
In the fall of 2018 and again in late winter 2019, MHT Office of Archeology staff carried out a magnetic susceptibility survey on some of the agricultural fields at the Billingsley property. It was known at the time that a number of 20th century artifact collectors had been active on the site, but MHT did not have a good handle on precisely where this collecting had taken place. It was thought that magnetic susceptibility testing might be able to “zero in” on the locations where archeological deposits had been identified in the past. The magnetic susceptibility of surface soils can be influenced by past human activity such as burning, digging, the introduction of organic matter, and the introduction of foreign stone or other raw materials. Prehistoric artifacts had been recovered from the site, and hearths from ancient cooking fires would be expected to influence the magnetizability of the soils on-site.
I’m happy to report that the technique worked amazingly well! Ultimately, after three days in the field, MHT identified a roughly 1.3 acre anomaly of culturally modified soils at Billingsley. Furthermore, the location of this anomaly matches almost perfectly the location of the “W” in “Wighkawameck” on the 17th-century Augustine Herrman map. It isn’t surprising that historically documented tribes such as the Mattapany and Patuxent would find a location appealing for establishment of their village in the late 17th century, precisely where their ancestors had lived during prehistoric times. It’s a pattern that has been observed throughout the state…that certain locations persist in the memories of Native Peoples. Sometimes for millennia.
“X” rarely marks the spot in archeology, but in this case, a “W” may. With your help, as well as that of the ASM and M-NCPPC, we hope to obtain archeological evidence for a 17th– century Native American presence at the Billingsley site in Prince George’s County. We have 11 days within which to do it. Please join us.
For more information about the Tyler Bastian Field Session in Maryland Archeology and to register to participate please visit the link below.
By Kirsti Uunila, RPA, Calvert County Historic Preservation Planner
For the past
two summers, MHT archeologists have partnered with the Archeological Society of
Maryland (ASM) and Calvert County to investigate the Calverton Site on the
shore of Battle Creek to search for what remains of the seventeenth century
town. Calverton, also known as Battle Town, was the first seat of Calvert County
government. Established around 1668, it was abandoned sometime after the court
was relocated to Prince Frederick in 1724. The town site has been in
agriculture ever since. Battle Creek has eroded the Calverton Site with an
estimated loss of more than 50 meters of shoreline. Using a plat of the town
drawn in 1682 (see map), archeologists concluded that some of the town is still
on land, including the first home of Michael Taney and other buildings.
An area near
the Taney house is believed to have been a dependency or outbuilding related to
the dwelling. It contained numerous artifacts from the seventeenth and early
eighteenth centuries. One was a large wine-bottle fragment bearing a broken
seal with the initial ‘M’. Michael Taney’s, perhaps? Several small features
were excavated in the dependency, including an apparent line of postholes. Two
of these postholes were situated approximately three feet apart, suggesting the
presence of a door. The most notable artifact found was on the edge of one of
these postholes. It is a James I silver shilling with a mint mark indicating it
was made in 1604. Since the town was not established until sixty years after
that, the coin had had a long journey and was likely to have been a treasured
object. In “archeologist speak” it had been “curated” by its owner well beyond
the date it was minted. Its placement in a posthole that may have held a
doorpost suggests a deliberate act, possibly to bring good fortune to the
building and its inhabitants.
artifacts and records of the second season are being analyzed now and we hope
to learn more about the people who lived, worked, and traded in the Colonial port
town. Calvert County proposes continuing work at the site and will use
ground-penetrating radar (GPR) this spring to locate cellars, hearths, and
other features that may be in imminent danger of erosion, and to investigate
more of the site.
By Sara Rivers Cofield, Curator of Federal Collections, Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum
When a committee of archeologists selected “The Magic and Mystery of Maryland Archeology” as the theme for the 2019 Maryland Archeology Month, they were not thinking about Harry Potter or pulling a rabbit out of a top hat. “Magic” in anthropological terms, is anything people do to try to influence the supernatural. That includes personified supernatural forces like gods, ghosts, and ancestral spirits, and impersonal supernatural forces like luck. Usually when people try to influence the supernatural there is a clear end in mind and a ritualized procedure to follow. When you pick a penny up and say, “find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you’ll have good luck,” an anthropologist would classify that as a “magic” ritual.
Archeologists Annette Cook and Alex Glass carefully excavate one quadrant of the kitchen cellar at Smith’s St. Leonard.
Archeology is a sub-discipline of anthropology in the U.S., so we use the anthropological definition of magic for select artifacts that were once considered objects of power. There is a joke of sorts in archeology that any artifact of unknown purpose must be “ritual,” which is really code for “I have no other explanation.” That joke was born out of legitimate criticism, but it has scared some people away from considering ritual and magic in archeology. The burden of proof that something is “magic” is very high. However, it is a disservice to our understanding of past belief systems if we fail to consider possible ritual and magic uses of artifacts, especially if the context calls for it.
The Smith’s St. Leonard horseshoe was found in the fill of a kitchen cellar that contained debris from a remodeling episode associated with the brick hearth.
A perfect example is a well-worn horseshoe from Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum’s public archeology site, the Smith’s St. Leonard plantation, which was occupied ca. 1711-1754. The obvious default interpretation of a horseshoe is that it was for shoeing a horse, especially if the horseshoe is worn enough to show it was used. However, historical records indicate that it was rare to shoe horses in Maryland prior to the 1750s because the soft clay soils did not require it. Over 200 units have been excavated at the site, resulting in over 450 boxes of artifacts from the main house, a kitchen, a laundry, at least three slave quarter buildings, a store house, and a stable. Only one horseshoe was found, and it was not near the stable, but in a kitchen cellar that was filled with debris from a hearth remodeling episode.
Horseshoes have a long history as objects placed on thresholds, near hearths, or in ritual concealments to ward off evil or bring good luck. Furthermore, some of these beliefs hold that found horseshoes, such as those thrown from a hoof along a roadway, were the ones with power. For example, witches could not pass through a threshold guarded by an old horseshoe until they had traveled all the roads the horse had traveled, and by then it would be daylight. Thus, history and context suggest that the Smith’s St. Leonard horseshoe was a magical object that once protected the hearth.
The Smith’s St. Leonard horseshoe after conservation treatment.
It is not always possible to determine whether an everyday object was put to a magical purpose, and that is where the “mystery” of the “Magic and Mystery” theme comes in. There are many finds that might be evidence of magic, but there is no way to know with certainty. It is still worthwhile to consider the possibility though because it calls for an understanding of how the people who used these artifacts viewed the world. Ultimately, having that knowledge of how people in the past thought and behaved is what archeology is all about.