AMHERST - Three years into a public archaeological dig at Beaubassin and the ground at this historic site continues to yield terrific results.
"There weren't as many participants in other years, and that's understandable with the economy, but there were more visitors," Parks Canada archaeologist Charles Burke said. "In terms of the archaeological information we've uncovered, there's more than in previous years."
Speaking to members of the Amherst Rotary Club on Monday, Burke said this year's dig, held over four weekends, attracted 420 paid participants from throughout the Maritimes. Most of those came from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but Burke said there were a few from Prince Edward Island and as far away as Louisiana, Michigan and New Hampshire.
Along the participants, the site was visited by another 600 people who came simply to see the dig and learn more about the history of Beaubassin.
Burke is pleased with the 5,000 or so artifacts that were collected this year, including yet another lead seal from the 1700s. Those seals, he said, indicate Beaubassin was a major player in trade routes between Quebec, Louisburg and New England.
Another major find this year was a number of items used by a tailor or seamstress, meaning there's no proof of one of the occupations that took part in one section of the property.
"Using the information we gathered in previous years we were able to explore more in depth and were able to determine an activity that took place in sewing and seamstress work," Burke said. "We've got at least one, maybe two additional structural foundations and a large number of significant artifacts associated with the 18th century."
Now that the public dig has wrapped up, Burke expects there will be about two weeks of archaeological recording. After that, a number of the completed units will be covered over. Four excavation units not explored this year will be covered with a special fabric and straw so they can be excavated in future years.
As of now there is no plan for another public dig next year, but Burke remains hopeful Parks Canada will hold another public program next year.
"No decision has been made on whether there'll be an other public program, but what's certain is that there will be archaeology undertaken at Beaubassin/Fort Lawrence for awhile yet," he said.
Since 2007, there have been 44 days of public involvement in the Beaubassin and Fort Lawrence Public Archaeology Experience yielding some 15,000 artifacts along with three building foundations. There has been no real marketing of the program with most of the people coming to the site through word of mouth.