As our excavations in the laundry yard draw to a close, we’re in the final stages of mapping the features we’ve uncovered in the last four weeks. In the last blog post (10/9/12), we mentioned that our fence wasn’t found at the rear of the south lane outbuildings, so we expanded our test units to determine if the fence was placed along the front of the structures. We found several features, but not our fence!
Checking into our photo archives, we found two pictures taken of the laundry yard from 1900 and c. 1916. The photo from 1900 shows a privet hedge running between the outbuildings, while the c. 1916 image reveals a wooden fence. Our excavation uncovered the privet ditch, and at least two generations of fence postholes dating from c. 1916 to 1946, along with several modern utility lines. Finds from the privet ditch fill included a glass rye whiskey bottle, a Civil War era Federal infantry button, and a 1935 Buffalo nickel. The postholes were filled with modern nails, brick fragments, and oyster shell, but no 18th century artifacts.
The absence of an 18th century fenceline between the outbuildings is precisely what the Vaughan sketch illustrates; a fenceline at the south end of the laundry yard, with open space between the outbuildings. Restoration carpenters can now place a fence running uninterrupted between the lower garden wall and coach house, which will be completed later this year. Our work on the laundry yard fence has revealed more information about how space was controlled within the core of the estate, and raises questions about the placement of other fences and boundaries on the plantation.
Luke J. Pecoraro, Staff Archaeologist