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Stepping back in time at Verdmont excavation

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Visiting a home built in the 18th century and excavating animal bones, shards of china and other artefacts buried long ago were the focus of learning for Dellwood Middle School students.

This 'out of the classroom' experience gave curious learners the opportunity to work alongside Dr Brent Fortenberry of Boston University, participating in an archaeological excavation currently underway at Verdmont Historic House and Garden in Smith's parish.

Forty M1 students arrived on site and were guided by the Bermuda National Trust Axis Education team, enabling them to tour the home built by the Dickinson family in the early 1700s and take part in the 'dig'.

While exploring the house and viewing the privy (also known as an outhouse) the students gained a sense of what it would have been like to live in a home without running water, electricity and other modern conveniences. Students toured Verdmont's third floor attic viewing a wide variety of items like those that would have been used by individuals who lived and worked in and around the home.

Along with touring the house, Dr Fortenberry worked with students showing them how to sift excavated soil using large framed screens. At first the items they uncovered appeared to be clumps of dirt, but then when rinsed with water in basins and scrubbed with toothbrushes, the bones from chickens and fish along with the shells from mussels and pieces of china were placed aside to dry in the open air. One student found an item of particular interest — a key that upon closer inspection showed considerable corrosion, which she then explained to her peers "this is what happens when metal is exposed to the elements over time."

Dellwood Social Studies instructional teacher Leader Nicole Grant spoke with students who provided the following feedback:

Kashonta James, said: “During my experience I enjoyed seeing the china, glass and artefacts. It was definitely a fun experience and I will always remember my time there.”

Alexis Tessitore, said: “My trip to Verdmont House was very enjoyable. What I enjoyed most was cleaning the bones and pottery. I also enjoyed touring Verdmont House and learning about the family that lived there.”

Marcus Rewan, said: “I think it is something that everyone should get to do. I liked visiting the old rooms and learning how people lived back then as well as the items they used.”

Taquan Swan, said: “I enjoyed my experience at Verdmont House in Smith's parish because it was something new to see. My favourite part of the tour was the cleaning and sifting the artefacts; I will always remember this day.”

Dae-Lyn Saint-Surin, said: “Through my experience at Verdmont, I got a chance to enter the world of an archaeologist and see what wonderful artefacts Bermuda carries.”

The students were not the only ones who benefited from the experience. Dr Fortenberry explained that after the artefacts are sifted, washed and sorted they need to be catalogued, which is the most time-consuming part of the process. He appreciated having the students’ help.

The excavation at Verdmont will engage other children ages 11 to 13 in an archaeological camp during the week of July 1 through July 5. For information about this experience as well as other summer camps offered by the National Trust, call Cindy Corday, Director of Education at 236-6483, or e-mail education@bnt.bm.

Dellwood Middle School students took part in an excavation at Verdmont House, learning about how life was in the 18th century.
Dellwood Middle School students took part in an excavation at Verdmont House, learning about how life was in the 18th century.
Dellwood Middle School students sift through soil at an excavation at Verdmont House, lfinding artefacts and animal bones dating back to the 18th century.

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Published June 27, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 26, 2013 at 6:11 pm)

Stepping back in time at Verdmont excavation

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