|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. During this time, Beaudry and Pulsipher identified Structure 1, a likely warehouse for cotton, located near the ruins of a cattle mill (Structure 2) and boiling house and cistern. Structure 1 was originally identified as a Curing House (and is sometimes referred to in preliminary as the Curing House) and others have suggested the building was a warehouse related to a later lime juice industry. Regardless, its architectural remains and location in relationship to the rest of the sugar works suggest that it was not related to sugar production.
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.
Currently there are no known primary documents or plats associated with the Cotton Warehouse (Structure 1).
Excavation history, methods, and procedures
In March 2006, a .5-x-.5 meter test unit was placed at the entrance (west side) to the Cotton Warehouse/Structure 1. This unit was later expanded to a 1 x .5 meter unit. Both units did not reach subsoil. All sediment was dry screened through ¼ inch hardware cloth. The effort in 2006 revealed that the warehouse probably had a cobblestone floor and a step or two built of stone and yellow brick.
In 2011, first Mac Goodwin, then Beaudry and Pecoraro divided the interior of Structure 1 into quadrants and excavated two of the quadrants down to sterile. Please note: These 2011 archaeological contexts and their associated artifacts were not available for entry into DAACS, therefore they are not part of the assemblage available through this website.
Research and analysis
Originally identified by Pulsipher as a “Curing House”, the building identification was later revised by Beaudry to be the Cotton Warehouse associated with nineteenth-century cotton production at the estate. At the time of this revision, all buildings investigated at Little Bay were given more ambiguous “structure” names; the cotton warehouse is also known as “Structure 1”.
Several lines of evidence suggested the structure was a cotton warehouse, not a curing house. First, no drains or other hydraulic features one would expect in a curing house were uncovered, nor were any remains of drip jars or other industrial sugar wares found. Second, oral history from Lady Eudora Fergus, whose family acquired the property in the 19th century and grew cotton on it into the 20th century, seems to confirm that Structure 1 was a cotton warehouse, not a curing house. Finally, the portion of the site where a curing house would logically have been placed, below the boiling house, has been destroyed by the construction of a cricket pitch. Jessica Striebel MacLean turned up a number of additional structural features during testing in advance of construction of a museum & other buildings right on the edge of the protected area of the site. Although the exact function of these buildings have not yet been identified, they appear to more closely related to the sugar-production era of Little Bay plantation.
DAACS calculated a Mean Ceramic Date of 1808 for the thirteen datable ceramic sherds recovered from the 2006 test pits. The Chronology page provides additional details on the unit’s date.
Although the field records and artifact assemblage from the 2011 excavations at the warehouse were not available to DAACS, Beaudry concluded in personal correspondence that the artifacts from the 2011 warehouse units contained artifacts dating to the nineteenth century and included a cassava grater. The Warehouse’s (Structure 1) masonry included much recycled yellow and other bricks and stones that appeared to have been robbed from Structure 6, a huge unidentified foundation in the “manor house complex”. Beaudry reported that Structure 6 was beautifully constructed, with some of the fire debris from the burning of the manor house thrown into its”cellar”. Beaudry concluded that Structure 6 was already in ruin when the Manor House burned as there are ceramic cross mends between the warehouse “cellar” contents and the Manor House cellar. She believes Structure 6’s masonry was later taken to use in the construction of Structure 1, the cotton warehouse.
Jillian Galle with contributions from Mary Beaudry
The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery and Boston University
Things you need to know about the Cotton Warehouse (Structure 1) before you use the data:
- Excavations were conducted at the Cotton Warehouse site in March 2006 and 2011. Only data from the two test units excavated in 2006 are included in DAACS. Field records and data from the 2011 excavations could not be located.
- The Context IDs in DAACS for the Cotton Warehouse are based on those used by excavators in the field and begin with the South and West coordinate of the unit corner followed by the corresponding level designation (e.g., 1, 2, etc.); however the 0.5 x 0.5 m units are not designated from the same corner. From previous excavator maps, DAACS determined that the units were aligned north/south, with the southern unit identified by the northwest corner (7.5S 6W), and the northern unit identified by its northeast corner (7 S 5.5 W).
- 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 Cotton Warehouse (Structure 1) site during the 2006-2007 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 Cotton Warehouse (all ceramics n=16, datable ceramics n=13) , DAACS was unable to produce seriation-based chronology for the site. Of the 13 datable ceramics, ware types ranged from delft and faience to whiteware.
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 eighteenth 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 Warehouse MCDs and TPQs
Little Bay Warehouse 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 Warehouse Chronology for stratigraphic and phase information.
For a printable version, download the Harris Matrix [PDF].
PDF of composite excavator’s plan, compiled by Laura Masur and DAACS.
Site plan in .dxf format.
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