Digging History! Knowledge of the Past Helps Us to Understand the Present

News & Updates

By Dot Zwerin,

Member of Shingle House Dig Team

The Archaeological team of the Warwick Historical Society is ready to continue the “Dig” at the Shingle House. We are looking forward to having another successful year at the site. Thus far, the team has been able to have a better understanding of what life was like in Warwick so many years ago. We are anxious to find more history at the site and to share our findings with everyone.

Let’s step back and review why we are there. The Shingle House was built in 1764 for Daniel Burt Jr. and his wife, Martha (nee, Bradner), and was much smaller at that time. Due to sad experiences at her former home in Connecticut, Martha was unsure of their safety in the new home. Daniel built a stone house fortification next to the house. The couple had a large family, and decided then to move elsewhere.

As time passed through the 1800’s many different people moved in or out of the house. The house was expanded and changes were made within it. Meanwhile, new inventions slowly changed lifestyles of various inhabitants. Wells and cisterns were not needed, stoves replaced fireplaces, gas lamps were used instead of candles, and then eventually electricity was used. 

Wells and privies were not used so they were filled in with household trash. The stone house was completely buried. The Shingle House saw many changes and many occupants through the hundreds of years of its existence. Then is sat empty and forlorn!

One bright day several years ago, a small group of young children visited the property with Mr. Michael Bertolini, the Curator of the Warwick Historical Society. He encouraged the children to dig a bit on the property. Suddenly, a child found some bricks that seemed to form a pattern. He had uncovered part of a cistern.

   That was the beginning of our archaeological dig at the Shingle House. Mr. George Knight was inspired to begin an archaeological dig to reveal the lifestyles of the past inhabitants that would help to understand the history of Warwick and its people.

Thus far, over several years, we have found the remnants of the stone house, two cisterns, a possible spring house, and more than 20,000 artifacts dating to the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The artifacts have been pieces of pottery, dishes, pipe stems, personal items, toys, metal objects, and hundreds of bottles. The team will describe and discuss the artifacts and other new discoveries in the next installments.  We want us all to have a better view of Warwick’s past and an understanding of the lives of the people. Having a knowledge of the past helps us to understand the present.

   With so much more to share, we will continue the story soon…

The Shingle House Diggers include: George Knight, Alina Badia de Lacour, Vicki Braidotti, Mike Mohyla, Peg Ross, Mike Tulin, & Dot Zwerin. 

Photo provided

Devoted diggers George Knight (left) & Mike Tulin along with the rest of the archaeological dig team returned to the Warwick Historical Society’s Shingle House dig site to continue unearthing the story of the property.


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