|Location:||St. Peter’s Parish, Montserrat|
|Occupation Dates:||Eighteenth century (ca. 1712–1783)|
|Excavator(s):||Boston University (Mary C. Beaudry, Jessica Striebel MacLean); University of Tennessee (Lydia Pulsipher, Conrad M. Goodwin, Barbara J. Heath)|
|Dates excavated:||2005–2007, 2010–2014. The excavation data in DAACS features only work conducted in December 2006/January 2007 and March 2007.|
The Little Bay Plantation site is the core area of what was once an extensive plantation extending well beyond the current boundaries of the site. Currently owned by the Montserrat National Trust, Little Bay Plantation is preserved as a park within an area being developed as the new capital for Montserrat. Massive construction projects have been undertaken on three sides of the site; to the east and north there are new roads, to the west, a huge cricket pitch, and directly adjacent to the northern edge of the site, a new national museum. The museum houses the offices and collections of the Montserrat National Trust, which has sponsored several seasons of archaeological investigation at the Little Bay Plantation site.
Archaeological excavations were conducted at Little Bay Plantation between 2005 and 2007 and again between 2010 and 2014. Excavation data provided through the DAACS website only features work conducted by Dr. Mary Beaudry, Dr. Lydia Pulsipher, Dr. Mac Goodwin, and Dr. Barbara Heath between March 2006 and March 2007.
Robert Piper obtained the title to a parcel of land known as Carr’s Little Bay Plantation near the northern tip of Montserrat sometime between 1710 and 1712 and renamed it Little Bay Plantation. Robert Piper was described in a 1729 census as a “Planter and Cooper” with a house and plantation, a household of nine members, and owner of 39 enslaved men, women, and children. His real estate included a cattle mill and three houses—a boiling house and still, a curing house, and a dwelling house—and 100 acres of land with thirty-six acres planted in cane and four in cotton. The nine people in Piper’s household included Robert and his wife Jane, their sons Christopher, Robert, Jr., William, and John and daughters Elizabeth and Sarah, and a “White Man Servant.”
In his will, written about a year before his death in 1740, Robert Piper left all of his real estate to his four sons and their lawful heirs, but the sons soon divided the property among themselves. William and John, the younger sons, retained the Little Bay Plantation. William died in 1762 without heirs, leaving the plantation to his brother John, who survived him for five years before his own death; also childless, John willed the plantation to his nephew Robert Piper. In the ensuing years two Piper cousins, Hugh Allen Piper and John Hugh Allen, contested ownership of the property. It is unclear who among these three was living on the plantation when the planter’s dwelling house burned to the ground in 1783. The plantation was abandoned after the fire and never reoccupied, although in the 19th and 20th centuries the area was planted in cotton and sometime in the 19th century stones and bricks from the 18th-century plantation structures were robbed and reused in the construction of a cotton warehouse just northeast of the former sugar works.
Excavation history, methods, and prodcedures
In January 2006, excavators and volunteers cleared vegetation to expose the masonry ruins of the Cattle Mill. Several noteworthy architectural features were revealed, including a masonry sluice that pierced the mill wall to the southwest, facilitating the flow of cane juice to the boiling house. This sluice would have been the conduit for expressed sugar cane juice that flowed from the mill to the adjacent boiling house where it was cooked down into crystalline sugar. A large, masonry arch defined the entrance to the mill. As the arch was only approximately 2.5 above modern grade, a single test unit was excavated under the arch to determine sedimentation rates at the site (Pulsipher 2006).
The single 1-x-1 meter unit was excavated under the arch. Unfortunately, no field records from this excavation survive. However, a report written by Lydia Pulsipher in 2006, provides some idea of what the team discovered. Pulsipher notes that excavations indicated that sediment deposited by erosion had filled in the area around the south side of the Cattle Mill in the vicinity of the archway to a depth of at least six feet, and probably more (2006). Excavations were stopped prior to subsoil.
A second .5- x -2 meter trench oriented north/south across the northern portion of the trackway, was opened by Mac Goodwin. The excavation consisted of removal of topsoil to expose the trackway. No notes were taken and artifacts could not be located for this unit (Beaudry, pers. communication, 2015).
Summary of research and analysis
Analysis of the artifacts from the 1-x-1 meter Cattle Mill test unit was conducted by DAACS staff at the DAACS laboratory at Monticello.
Two preliminary reports and one conference paper has been complete on the 2006-2007 fieldwork conducted by Little Bay Project (Beaudry and Pulsipher 2007; Beaudry, Pulsipher and Goodwin 2007; Pulsipher 2006).
Due to the exceptionally small sample size from the single unit at the Little Bay Cattle Mill (all ceramics n=43, datable ceramics n=35) , DAACS was unable to produce seriation-based chronology for the site. However, the 1831 Mean Ceramic Date for for the Cattle Mill, suggests that sedimentation of the Cattle Mill entrance occurred throughout the early-to-mid nineteenth century. This accords with the documentary record indicating the sugar operation was abandoned after the fire of 1783.
Jillian Galle with contributions from Mary Beaudry
The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery and Boston University
Things you need to know about the Cattle Mill (Structure 2) before you use the data:
- Excavations were conducted at the Cattle Mill site in January 2006. Only data from the two test units excavated in 2006 are included in DAACS.
- Measurements are in meters and centimeters.
- All sediment was dry screened through 1/4 inch hardware cloth.
- The artifacts were cataloged by Lynsey Bates and Elizabeth Bollwerk at the DAACS lab at Monticello.
There were no archaeological features identified or excavated at the Little Bay Cattle Mill site during the 2006 field season.
DAACS staff aim to produce a seriation-based chronology for each site using the same methods (see Neiman, Galle, and Wheeler 2003 for technical details). The use of common methods for all sites in the archive is designed to increase comparability among temporal phases at different sites. The methods they produced are summarized below. Archive users may also use the Mean Ceramic Date queries provided on the Query the Database section of this website to calculate MCDs for individual contexts or features.
DAACS Seriation Method
Due to the exceptionally small sample size from the single unit at the Little Bay Cattle Mill (all ceramics n=43, datable ceramics n=35) , DAACS was unable to produce seriation-based chronology for the site. However, the 1831 Mean Ceramic Date for for the Cattle Mill, suggests that sedimentation of the Cattle Mill entrance occurred through the early-to-mid nineteenth century.
The table below includes the site-wide Mean Ceramic Date and the BLUE MCD, which gives less influence to ceramic types with long manufacturing spans, point to the occupation’s temporal placement the second quarter of the nineteenth century. It also provides three TPQ estimates. The first TPQ estimate is the usual one – the maximum beginning manufacturing date among all the ware-types in the assemblage. The second estimate — TPQp90 — is the 90th percentile of the beginning manufacturing dates among all the sherds in the assemblage, based on their ware-types. The TPQp95 provides a robust estimate of the site’s TPQ based on the 95th percentile of the beginning manufacturing dates for all the artifacts comprising it. These last two TPQ estimates are more robust against excavation errors and taphonomic processes that might have introduced a few anomalously late sherds into an assemblage.
Little Bay Cattle Mill MCDs and TPQs
Little Bay Cattle Mill Harris Matrix
The Harris Matrix summarizes stratigraphic relationships among excavated contexts and groups of contexts that DAACS staff has identified as part of the same stratigraphic group. Stratigraphic groups and contexts are represented as boxes. Lines that connect these boxes represent temporal relationships implied by the site’s stratification, as recorded by the site’s excavators (Harris 1979).
This Harris Matrix is based on data regarding stratigraphic relationships recorded among contexts in the DAACS database and was drawn with the ArchEd application. See http://www.ads.tuwien.ac.at/arched/index.html.
See Little Bay Cattle Mill Chronology for stratigraphic and phase information.
For a printable version, download the Harris Matrix [PDF].
Beaudry, Mary C., and Lydia M. Pulsipher
2007 Narrative Report of March 2007 Archaeological Investigations at the Montserrat National Trust Heritage Site at Little Bay. Report submitted to the Montserrat National Trust, Olveston, Montserrat, WI.
Beaudry, Mary C., Lydia M. Pulsipher , and Conrad M. Goodwin
2007 Legacy of the Volcano: Archaeology and Heritage at William Carr’s Little Bay Estate, Montserrat, WI. Paper presented at the annual meetings of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Williamsburg, Virginia.
Pulsipher, Lydia M.
2006 Preliminary Report: Little Bay Estate Project, Montserrat, West Indies Last accessed March 27, 2015: https://www.academia.edu/5565677/Preliminary_Report_Little_Bay_Estate_Project_Montserrat_West_Indies