Taylor-Bray Farm is an archaeological gem representing thousands of years of human occupation. Native American artifacts found at the site indicate a seasonal use of the property dating back at least three thousand years. Moreover the farm is a significant Plymouth Colony site, which has yielded thousands of artifacts from that time through the 20th century reflecting the daily lives of the people who called the place home. (To learn some details about the project, please see Archaeology and History at the Taylor-Bray Farm, Yarmouth Port, MA)
Archaeology work began informally in 2009 when Association volunteers removing modern modifications to the late 18th century farmhouse began to discover artifacts beneath the floorboards. Not only did the initial rehab work reveal its structure but also gave significant hints about Richard Taylor’s 17th century house. This work has since grown into an organized, multi-year effort to preserve and learn about the past.
Our archaeologist Craig Chartier has led several meticulous digs that produced breakthrough discoveries of the original Taylor family settlement as well as confirmed ancient Native American activities.
Our findings include the location of the original 17th century Richard Taylor home site and a subsequent, probably 18th century, addition (see site plan on the left). We also partially excavated a large cellar hole associated with the house that produced many 17th & 18th century artifacts that help us understand the life of the Taylor family. That original house is long gone but we believe lumber from the building was recycled to construct the half Cape at the farm today.
On the prehistoric front we have established a time line that suggests Native Americans occupied parts of the farm on a seasonal basis at least as long as 3500 years ago. This is confirmed in part by radiocarbon dating. Our discoveries include a storage pit probably used to store dried corn or nuts, cooking fire locations and sites for seasonal housing called wetus. Artifact discoveries include projectile points, stone tools and tool making debris. These objects help us appreciate what Native people were doing here on a day-to-day basis when it came to farming, fishing, trading and collecting food.
The findings from our archaeological work contribute to educational outreach activities that spread the word about this exceptional historic property. In the past we have created exhibits of farm artifacts and sponsored public presentations on the farm archaeology project at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster and various area libraries. And now that the renovated farmhouse is once again open to visitors, we have a permanent place to display artifacts from the farm’s past.
Community involvement is a key
We are grateful for the generous Community Preservation grants awarded by the Town of Yarmouth over the past several years. These grants have allowed us to hire a professional archaeologist to carefully plan field investigations and produce thorough follow-up analytic reports. In 2013, the town Community Preservation Committee named the Association archaeology program as its “project of the year.”
We are also indebted to the volunteers who donate valuable time to our fieldwork efforts. In 2014, for instance, sixty volunteers contributed almost 1300 hours to the intensive dig that produced the outline of the original farmhouse and subsequent addition.
Join the Archaeology Team
Volunteers are always welcome to join our fieldwork team. The farm dig is a singular opportunity to participate in a hands-on local history project. Previous experience is helpful but not necessary, as we will train new volunteers.
If you are interested in helping with future fieldwork, please contact Jack Duggan or call 508-385-8631 for more information.