|Location:||Stewart Castle, Falmouth, Trelawney, Jamaica|
|Occupation Dates:||Last-half 18th through second-quarter 19th century. Phasing and mean ceramic dates can be found on the Chronology Page.|
|Excavator(s):||Jillian Galle, Leslie Cooper, Ivor Conolley, and Karen Hutchins, with assistance from Derek Wheeler and archaeological field school students.|
|Dates excavated:||May-June 2007.|
Excavations at the Stewart Castle Main House and Slave Village were initiated by DAACS in May 2007 as part of the DAACS Caribbean Initiative. Located just east of Falmouth Jamaica, in Trelawney Parish, Stewart Castle was patented in 1754. It functioned as a large-scale sugar plantation through the early nineteenth century. Due to a massive decline in sugar prices, the property gradually converted to a cattle pen by the mid-19th century. A 1799 plat by the surveyors Munro, Stevenson, and Innes captures the scope of the sugar plantation period in detail, showing the location of the slave village, the fortified main house, sugar works, and slave provision grounds.
The Stewart Castle Main House complex is currently in ruins. However, enough remains intact to provide a relatively clear picture of the architectural and landscape features around the main house. An accurate and detailed plan of the main house complex was drawn by Steven Panning in the mid-1990s when the site was more intact and less overgrown (Panning 1996b). The heavily fortified main house was constructed in two phases, with the early central core most likely constructed in the third quarter of the eighteenth century.
The first phase of construction resulted in a large, square house flanked by fortified towers on the northwest and southeast corners. The second phase of construction connected the towers to the main block, and includes the addition of a massive courtyard. The courtyard wall is over two and a half meters high, with broken 18th-century wine bottle sherds mortared into the top and 35 gun ports. The concern for security was carried over to a heavily fortified privy, complete with gun ports. Masonry rubble piles also suggest the location of stables and barns.
Prior to 2007, no archaeological work had been conducted that related to the historic period occupations at Stewart Castle. The goal of the 2007 DAACS excavation was to assess the temporal components at the main house, and to understand both the temporal and spatial occupations at the slave village. With the help of students from the University of the West Indies and the University of Virginia, thirty-six shovel-test-pits (STPs) were excavated inside the fortified courtyard at the Main House. Architectural and landscape features were also mapped at the main house. No 1-x-1 meter units were excavated, although plans for future field seasons include larger units and expanded STP coverage outside of the courtyard.
First patented in 1754 by James Stewart I, Stewart Castle began as a small 167 acre landholding. By 1799, the sugar plantation had grown to well over 1200 acres and was supported by the labor of over 300 enslaved Africans. Despite the increase in size, James Stewart II was forced to mortgage the property in 1797. Although Stewart II did not officially sell the property until 1830, it may have been managed by an agent of the London merchants who held the mortgage, hence prompting the creation of the 1799 Munro, Stevenson and Innes plat. (Panning 1996a). Although it has been suggested that the estate became a cattle pen at the time of its sale in 1830, Stewart Castle was clearly converting to cattle well before then, as it had an average of 282 cattle each year during the second decade of the 19th century (Panning 1996a)
James Stewart II led an active political and military life, serving as both the Custos of Trelawney Parish and as a Major General in the Militia. He served as a commissioner at the conference held with the Maroons at Trelawney Town prior to the beginning of the Maroon Wars in 1795 (Panning 1996a:173). The almost obsessive focus on fortifications demonstrates a perceived and possibly very real threat to Stewart Castle from the Maroons and those he enslaved. If the Castle came under attack, Stewart had the ability to secure people and animals inside the courtyard, as well as ensure a large supply of safe drinking water as result of a large water cistern (3.1m x 5.5 meters by 2.5 meters deep) inside the main house (Panning 1996b:202).
Stewart Castle was purchased by Robert Sheldon (Sheddon?) shortly after Stewart II’s death in 1828 (Panning 1996a:172) An early 1830s lithograph by J.B. Kidd documents the overseer’s house and works, with the main house with its corner towers visible in the distance. Currently, the 1799 plat and the 1830 lithograph are the only surviving documents the directly address Stewart Castle. Future research in archives in Jamaica and the UK may turn up additional information, at which point this statement will be revised.
Excavation history, procedure and methods
The goal of the 2007 DAACS excavation was to assess the temporal components at the main house, and to understand both the temporal and spatial occupations at the slave village. DAACS began by dividing the Stewart Castle property into three survey areas. Area 1 encompasses the Stewart Castle Main House and Yard, Area 2 is comprised of the area in the slave village west of the road, which bisects the village along a north/south trajectory, and Area 3 is located to the east of the road in the village. Archaeological excavations only occurred in Areas 1 and 3 in 2007. Both areas were covered in heavy bush and required extensive clearing prior to excavation.
Excavation began at the Stewart Castle Main House. A datum was placed near the center of the walled courtyard. In order to ensure their longevity, both the datum and total station backsight were excavated as 50 centimeter STPs. These pits were filled with concrete, into which a length of rebar was placed. The datum rebar was then located on the UTM-grid using a GPS unit with < 10 centimeter accuracy. The total station was used to connect the Main House UTM grid to the Village grid, therefore both excavation areas are on the same UTM grid system.
Thirty-four shovel-test-pits were placed on 6-meter centers within the main house courtyard using a total station. An alphanumeric system was established for naming STPs that combined the Area, the Transect Letter, and the STP number. Transects were labeled alphabetically. Transect A represents that northernmost transect and Transect F is the southernmost transect within the courtyard. STPs were numbered consecutively along each transect, beginning along the western edge of the transect and moving east. STP labels therefore look like 1-A-03, which translates into Pit 3, on Transect A, in Area 1. The same numbering system was used for excavations at the village. Please note that those using the STP data for analysis will encounter data from 1-DATUM and 1-BKSIGHT, which are the STPs excavated for the datum and backsight and which are not on the 6-meter STP survey grid.
A total of 36 pits were excavated within the courtyard, including the datum and backsight pits. All STPs were 50 centimeters in diameter and all excavated sediment was screened through 1/4 inch mesh. In most cases, the pits were excavated to either subsoil, or bedrock. The exception was one pit on the F-transect (1-F-01), which was over 1 meter deep and could not be dug deeper due to the constraints of the pit’s diameter. Pits were not excavated outside of the courtyard in 2007.
Artifacts were washed, labeled and cataloged to DAACS standards on Jamaica and in the DAACS lab at Monticello. Faunal remains from the main house and village excavations are currently being analyzed at Colonial Williamsburg’s Zooarchaeological Laboratory and will be available through this website in early 2008.
Architectural features within the courtyard were mapped with the total station. These included a small stone outbuilding that was constructed on the interior of the courtyard and adjacent to the courtyard’s eastern wall. Remnants of what appears to be stone edging for narrow planting beds, or possibly drains, were mapped, as well as stone terrace walls.
Future excavation plans include extending the STP transects to the exterior of the Main House courtyard, with a focus on the northern and southern yards. Several 1 x 1 meter units will also be placed within the courtyard to clarify stratigraphy, explore architectural features, and date buried deposits. Data collected during future excavation seasons at Stewart Castle will be cataloged to DAACS standards and provided through the DAACS website.
Summary of research and analysis
The most complete historical research on Stewart Castle to date was conducted by Steven Panning in the mid 1990s. In addition to conducting research in Jamaican archives, Panning produced an accurate measured drawing of the Stewart Castle Main House complex (Panning 1996a, 1996b). He visited the main components of the property, including the main house, wharf, village, overseer’s house and works. His article provides a detailed glimpse of the ruins as they existed about 15 years ago.
Initial research by DAACS has confirmed many aspects of Panning’s measured drawings, with a few revisions. In June 2007, detailed analysis of the detached southwest tower by Edward Chappell, Director of Architectural History at Colonial Williamsburg, identified it as a highly fortified, three-seat privy. The arches identified by Panning as possibly part of a kitchen functioned to protect those using the privy.
DAACS staff was not able to find remnants of blue painted Delft, or any other ceramics, mortared into the top of the courtyard wall, although broken 18th-century wine bottle glass was abundant. The depth of the STPs in the E and F transects indicate that a large amount of fill was used to level the interior courtyard surface prior to the construction of the courtyard walls. In all likelihood, the fill came from the excavation of the cellars and cistern located inside of the main house.
The almost overzealous nature of the physical defenses around Stewart Castle, including the fortified privy, armored courtyard, and nearly 100 gun ports, speaks to Stewart II’s concern for his personal security. The majority of the defenses face inland, toward the mountains and the Maroons, as well as toward the slave village. The lack of attention to defenses along the water suggest that Stewart’s main concern lay in the enslaved and Maroon populations that substantially outnumbered white planters on the island throughout the 18th century.
In her honors thesis titled “Surveillance and Production on Stewart Castle Estate: A GIS-based analysis of models of plantation spatial organization” (2007), Lynsey Bates used view-shed and cost-surface analysis to analyze plantation organization at Stewart Castle. Through the combination of modern topographic maps and the 1799 plat, Bates concluded that surveillance of the enslaved population at Stewart Castle was secondary to minimizing travel time between the village, the sugar works, and certain fields. By placing the works and village in locations that minimized travel between the two, Bates demonstrated that Stewart sacrificed visibility, since neither the provision grounds nor village were observable from the main house or the overseer’s house (Bates 2007). Bates’s thesis is available for download at: http://www.daacs.org/research/.
A number pf research papers and posters related to DAACS’s 2007 research at Stewart Castle will be presented in 2008. These will be made available through the DAACS website after they are presented.
The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery
Things you need to know about the Stewart Castle Main House before you use the data:
- Field measurements are in meters and centimeters.
- Excavation units and shovel-test-pits at both the Main House and Village are on the UTM grid system.
- Thirty-six shovel-test-pits were excavated at the Stewart Castle Main House in 2007. More extensive area excavations are planned for subsequent seasons.
DAACS is extremely grateful for the generous support of The Reed Foundation, which provided scholarships and internships for students from the University of the West Indies, Mona.
The DAACS field work at Stewart Castle would not have occurred without the support and colloboration of Louis Nelson, Associate Professor of Architectural History of UVA, and director of The Falmouth Field School in Architectural History. He introduced DAACS to the Stewart Castle site in 2005 and has been a strong supporter of the DAACS program.
Many thanks to the wonderful students, interns, and volunteers who put such incredible energy into the field and laboratory work for Anthropology 382: The Falmouth Field School in Historical Archaeology (University of Virginia). They include: Vanessa Bonner (UWI), Lauren Burn (UWI), John Chenoweth (UCB), Vanessa Clark (UWI), Shemika Crawford (UWI), Anna Doctor (UWI), Clive Grey (UWI), Shailean Hardy (UWI), Alexandra Jones (UCB), Sarah Kidder (COC), Brian McCray (UVA), Andrew Mullan (UVA), Susan Sherwood (UMW), and Julene Wright (UWI). Students from The Falmouth Field School in Historic Preservation also particpated throughout the field season.
The project is indebted to Rim Patterson-Gooden, John Reynolds, Peter Maxwell, and Kemar Walters for their incredible machete skills and valued guidance. The site would have been inpenetrable without them. James Parrent and his fabulous staff at Falmouth Heritage Renewal, in Falmouth Jamaica, ensured that the field school ran smoothly each day. To find out more about the good work that Falmouth Heritage Renewal is doing to preserve the historic landscape of Falmouth, while providing training in the building trades, please go to: http://www.falmouthjamaica.org/Home.html.
Edward Chappell (Director of Architectural Research, Colonial Williamsburg) and Matthew Webster (Director Preservation, Drayton Hall) lent their amazing skills to the recordation of the Overseer’s House at Stewart Castle and the outbuildings, including the identification of the fortified three-seater privy, at the Main House complex.
We are grateful for the support and friendship of our colleagues at the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, epscially Dorrick Gray and Anne-Marie Howard Brown, and the University of the West Indies, Mona, including Dr. Sabrina Rampersad, Dr. Swithin Wilmot, and Dr. James Robertson.
A number of DAACS and Monticello staff provided their invaluable advice, skills, good humor, and great effort to ensure the success of the 2007 field season. They include Ivor Conolley, Leslie Cooper, Karen Hutchins, Fraser Neiman, and Derek Wheeler. Jesse Sawyer and Brian McCray contributed to the artifact analysis upon our return to Monticello.
The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery
There are currently no excavated archaeological features at the Stewart Castle Main House.
DAACS Seriation Method
DAACS has developed an uniform set of methods to infer intra-site chronologies for all of the sites included in the Archive. These methods, which include frequency-seriation and correspondence analysis, were developed by DAACS (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 and the phase assignments they produced are summarized below. For some sites, the original excavators developed intra-site chronologies and where these exist, they are included on the Background page for the site. Archive users may also use the Mean Ceramic Date queries provided on the on the DAACS query page (http://www.daacs.org/queryDatabase/MCDQueries.html) to calculate MCDs for individual contexts or features.
Stewart Castle Main House Chronology
This section summarizes the frequency-seriation based chronology for the Main House at Stewart Castle. DAACS seriated ceramic assemblages from the Main House that contained more than 5 sherds from individual excavated contexts. Please note that at the Main House, ware types, not mean-ceramic-date types, were used in the frequency seriation, correspondence analysis, and in developing the dates for each occupational phase. Please go to DAACS Ceramic Ware and MCD Types for more information on the differences between ware types and mean-ceramic-date types.
DAACS computed the frequency of ceramic ware types in each individual context. The seriation chronology is derived from a correspondence analysis of the ware-type frequencies. Seriated contexts were assigned to four phases. Phases are groups of assemblages that have similar correspondence-analysis scores and are therefore inferred to be broadly contemporary. Phases assigned by DAACS have a P-prefix that precedes the phase number (e.g. P01 equals Phase 1).
The stratigraphic relationships among contexts are summarized in the Harris Matrix for the Stewart Castle Main House. Phase assignments from the seriation are shown on the Harris Matrix in color, facilitating comparison of the seriation chronology and the stratigraphic chronology of the site.
Stewart Castle Main House Phases
Based on the correspondence analysis, DAACS divided the Main House occupation into two phases. Ware-type mean ceramic dates with start dates of 1700 were used to compute MCDs for each phase. The MCDs for the two phases are given in the table below.
The table also includes three estimates of the ceramic TPQ for each phase. 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.
Stewart Castle Main 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 currently no Harris Matrix for the Stewart Castle Main House, since the 2007 excavations only consisted of shovel-test-pits. A Harris Matrix will be generated as units with recorded stratigraphic relationships are excavated.
PDF of main house complex showing shovel test pit excavation area in courtyard, compiled by DAACS using Panning’s measured drawings and DAACS Total Station.
PDF of main house complex and slave village excavation areas, compiled by DAACS using Panning’s measured drawings and DAACS Total Station mapping.
2007 Surveillance and Production on Stewart Castle Estate: A GIS-based analysis of models of plantation spatial organization. B.A. Honors Thesis, Department of Anthropology, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Harris, Edward C.
1979 Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. Academic Press, London, England.
Neiman, Fraser D., Karen Y. Smith , Sara Bon-Harper , and Derek Wheeler
2008 Measuring Settlement Pattern Change on the Monticello Plantation Home Farm. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology. Albequerque, New Mexico, January 2008.
1996a Exploring Stewart Castle Estate. Jamaican Historical Society Bulletin, 10 (14), pp 172-180.
1996b Exploring Stewart Castle Estate. Jamaican Historical Society Bulletin, pp 200-205.
Ramenofsky, Ann , Fraser D. Neiman , and Christopher Pierce
2009 Measuring Time, Population, And Residential Mobility From The Surface at San Marcos Pueblo, North Central New Mexico. American Antiquity, 74(3): 505-530.
1999 Spatial and Multivariate Analysis, Random Sampling Error, and Analytical Noise: Empirical Bayesian Methods at Teotihuacan, Mexico. American Antiquity, 64(1):137-152.