|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 procedures
The Little Bay Manor House was located on a ridge overlooking the sugar works and cane fields that stretched to Little Bay. Test excavations at the house site in January 2006 revealed the foundation walls and the basic dimensions of the house. In January 2007, five shovel-test-pits (STP) were excavated in the vicinity of the great house. Sediment from these STPs was screened through 1/4 inch hardware cloth.
At the time of writing, no field records or artifacts had been located from the 2006-2007 test unit excavations at the manor house. Only data from three of the STPs could be located. Artifacts from these three STPS were sent to the DAACS lab at Monticello for analysis. Field records for these STPS were missing.
Jessica Striebel MacLean, a Ph.D. candidate and student of Mary Beaudry’s at Boston University, conducted excavations at the manor house between 2012 and 2014. Her forthcoming dissertation focuses on the European occupation of Montserrat from initial settlement through to the present.
Summary of research and analysis
Analysis of the artifacts from three Manor House shovel-test-pits were 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).
Five ceramics were recovered from the Manor House shovel-test-pits: 2 locally-produced Caribbean coarse earthenware sherds and one sherd each of Delftware, White Salt Glaze stoneware, and North Midlands Slipware. Due to the exceptionally small sample size of datable ceramics (n=3) at the Little Bay Manor House, DAACS was unable to produce seriation-based chronology for the site. However, the 3 ceramics sherds recovered from STPs J and L provide a Mean Ceramic Date of 1732.
Jessica MacLean’s Little Bay Plantation Archaeology and Heritage Project focuses on the Little Bay Manor House as part of MacLean’s dissertation research at Boston University. Her data are not in DAACS but personal communication from Beaudry indicates that MacLean has excavated a number of additional structural features that are allowing her to interpret the “manor house” as a typical Creole-style Caribbean house, likely of timber-frame construction given nothing but nails survive the fire that destroyed it in the late 18th century. The charred pine wood samples hint that it may have been a “kit house” shipped out from New England.
Jillian Galle with contributions from Mary Beaudry
The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery and Boston University
Things you need to know about the Manor House (Structure 5) before you use the data:
- Excavations were conducted at the Little Bay Manor House site in March 2006 and January 2007 bu Pulsipher, Goodwin, and Beaudry. Jessica MacLean, as part of her dissertation research at Boston University, expanded excavations at the Manor House site in subsequent field seasons.
- At the time of writing, no field records or artifacts had been located from the 2006 test unit excavations at the Manor House. Only data from three of the five STPs excavated in 2007 could be located.
- As a result, only artifacts from the these three STPs were are in DAACS. Field records for these STPS were missing.
- 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 Manor House (Structure 5) site during the 2006 and 2007 field seasons.
DAACS Seriation Method
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.
Five ceramics were recovered from three shovel-test pits at the Manor House: 2 locally-produced Caribbean coarse earthenware sherds and one sherd each of Delftware, White Salt Glaze stoneware, and North Midlands Slipware. Due to the exceptionally small sample size of datable ceramics (n=3) at the Little Bay Manor House, DAACS was unable to produce seriation-based chronology for the site. However, the site-wide Mean Ceramic Date derived from the 3 ceramics sherds indicates that STP deposits date to the second-quarter of the eighteenth century. Two other measures that are less sensitive to excavation errors and taphonomic processes that might introduce a small amount of anomalously early or late material into an assemblage were used. They are TPQp90 and TPQp95. TPQp95 of 1720 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. The TPQp90 of 1720 provides a more robust estimate of the site’s TPQ based on the 90th percentile of the beginning manufacturing dates for all the artifacts comprising it. Taking into account these dates are only derived from three-datable ware-types, these identical dates suggest that occupation intensity at the Manor accords with the MCD and BLUE MCDs.
Little Bay Manor House Ceramic Dates and TPQs
Little Bay Manor House 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, while lines connecting them represent temporal relationships implied by the site’s stratification, as recorded by the site’s excavators (Harris 1979).
There is no Harris Matrix for the Manor House site. Excavation during the 2007 field season consisted solely of five shovel-test-pits.
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