Joint Mersey Society/NSAS Field Trip

November 13, 1999

By Nick Lenco

On November 13, the Mersey Heritage Society successfully hosted its first major tour of heritage sites in south Queens County. Joined by members of the Nova Scotia Archaeology Society (NSAS) and interested individuals from the community, the local group spent the day visiting several heritage sites in the area.

"I think that one of the most important aspects of the trip was that it demonstrated the accessibility of our heritage," said Norma Lenco, a member of the Society, "It was a big advantage to have archaeologists on hand in addition to the local experts. They helped to flesh out some details at the sites."

The first stop of the day was at the ruins of a Catholic chapel near Port Medway where the foundation stones of the building (c. 1840) are still visible. Archaeologist and society member Mike Sanders noted several rough burial markers that were uninscribed. "If you have an interest and take a close look at these sites, you'll be surprised at what you find. It can be a very exciting experience."

The tour also included the Old Burial Grounds in Liverpool and the Milton Blacksmith Shop Museum. Christine Tupper, curator of the blacksmith shop, told the group about the shop's history and its development into a museum. Archaeologists in attendance commented on the remarkable job that has been done to catalogue artifacts found at the site.

A highlight of the field trip was a viewing of artifacts recently conveyed to the Queens County museum by Noel Dexter of Beech Meadows (below, centre right). Dexter, a longtime archaeology enthusiast, felt that it was time to place the artifacts in the museum so that they would always remain in Queens County "where they belong." Some of the artifacts have been dated to more than 8,000 years ago.

David Christianson, Curator of Archaeology for the Nova Scotia Museum, was also on hand and talked about work done in the Lake Rossignol area in the mid-80s. Mr. Dexter's brother, Warren,was involved with that work. Christianson said that, although little formal research has been done, the Mersey River system contains a large number of pre contact archaeological sites.

One of the society's goals is to catalogue the sites where Dexter's artifacts originated. This will be a large project and the society hopes to involve people who have an interest in the Mi'kmaq history of the Mersey River.

NSAS members from the Halifax area said that they were amazed by the depth of the history in the area, and by the work done by local people. "By sharing these sites with others, you realize how lucky Queens County is to have the heritage resources that it does", said Mike Sanders.

To further its goal of making history enjoyable and accessible, the Mersey Heritage Society plans to conduct an archaeological dig next year in the Liverpool area. They are looking for new members to take part in the dig, as well as other society activities.

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