By Dot Zwerin
Archaeological Dig Team member
Welcome to the fifth installment of our activities at the Shingle House Dig. We are going to discuss more findings.
Regardless of where we dig on the Shingle House property, we usually find numerous clam or oyster shells. Clams (Quahogs) were a popular food source for the people. Shells were found where the kitchen trash was located, and large amounts of shells were found where perhaps there may have been a “clambake” or barbecue.
It’s known that the Native Americans were quite adept at harvesting clams along the East Coast waterways. They used the clams for food, made wampum from the shells, and traded clams and the wampum with the inhabitants along the coast and inland.
Clams and oysters were plentiful in the waters along the East Coast. A bustling seafood market emerged in New York City. Seafood was bought and brought inland by carts and then trains. This was not ideal because the seafood had to be kept cold.
When a refrigerator car was installed on the Warwick Railroad in the 1800s, seafood could be kept cold during transit. The milk from the Warwick dairy farms was shipped in the refrigerator cars to New York City, and the seafood was shipped back to Warwick in those cars. An abundance of clams and oysters were available in Warwick!
Among the many other items we have found are metal objects. Metal items were plentiful in the house, the barn, workshops, and all around the farm. We have found nails, bolts, forks, knives, hooks, keys, hinges, bullets, and just a large assortment of various objects. Most of them were covered in rust.
In our next installment we will discuss some items we have managed to piece together. With so much more to share, we will continue the story soon.
The Shingle House Diggers are: George Knight, Alina Badia de Lacour, Vicki Braidotti, Mike Mohyla, Peg Ross, Mike Tulin, Arnold Vila & Dot Zwerin.
Shells are a common find at the Shingle House dig site as shellfish was extremely popular when imported to Warwick on the railroad in the mid-1800s.