More than 200,000 artifacts were discovered during digging on Parliament Hill
More than 200,000 artifacts dating back to 1827 were discovered by archaeologists while digging around the Central Estate on Parliament Hill.
Excavation of Barrack Hill, a military outpost consisting of three barracks, a prison, stables, kitchen and guardhouse located on Parliament Hill, today began in spring 2019. The military outpost. created by Lieutenant Colonel John By in 1827, and used until 1858, by British soldiers building the Rideau Canal.
“This collection is what the basic soldiers are,” said Stephen Jarrett, head of the Rehabilitation Center’s archeology team. “It will be interesting to see what they can afford economically.”
Classic finds include an intact white and blue chamber pot, coins from the early 1800s, buttons from British military uniforms, dice, wine bottles, bottles of gin, remnants of shoe soles skins, as well as many plates for both adults and children. Jarrett said the artifacts provide insight into what life was like and the level of economic prosperity that soldiers must have to buy alcohol and children’s toys.
“It gives them a timely personal connection with us,” says Jarrett.
Some artifacts, including glass bottles and dinnerware, are in better condition than others for one reason: newborns. Without today’s plumbing, people from the early to mid-1800s dealt with organic and non-organic material by tossing it indoors outdoors. Jarrett says most of the work on recovering those items isn’t too bad, though he says an old home is still “wet”.
A large white and blue basin rests on the table next to two colored glass bottles. (CTV National News)
“The context of secrecy allows for the existence of inorganic residues such as clothing and leather,” he said, adding that treating ceramics and other fragile items in this way helps ensure they are not trampled. “They survived better.”
Though not surprising, Jarrett says the discovery of more than 200,000 artifacts is a record for him.
A pink children’s cup, held together by ice, was discovered in the Barrack Hills area. (CTV National News)
“It’s not about what they found, but what we found tells us about how the military used the site and lived on it,” Jarrett said. Barrack Hill was built to house about 150 soldiers and their families.
What happens to the artifacts now that they’ve been cleaned, glued together and the relics cataloged so they can be seen.
A bronze military insignia rests on what appears to be a plastic kitchen tray. An image of what it will look like is displayed next to the artifact. (CTV National News)