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Northumberland County Historical Society Coan Hall exhibit

Posted on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at 1:42 pm

Coan Hall, the home of the first leader of the English settlement of the Northern Neck, was the center of the colonial community of Chicocoan.  John Mottrom and his son, John Mottrom Jr., and grandson, Spencer Mottrom, lived at Coan Hall from the 1640s until the early 1700s when the home disappeared from the landscape of Northumberland County. Not only has the Mottrom homesite long been a center of historical interest, but beginning in 2011 it became a focus of archaeological research.

The exhibit, at the Northumberland County Historical Society, contains the recent work of Professor Barbara Heath and her associates from the University of Tennessee. The site has yielded nearly 4,000 fragments of English and Dutch tobacco pipes, and more than 300 fragments of pipes made in Virginia by Native Americans—a few of which can be seen at the exhibit along with explanations. Visitors to the museum will become acquainted with such terms as “ground penetrating radar,” “gradiometer” and “total station.” Before actual digging begins, archaeologists use ground penetrating radar and gradiometers to create an image of what lies below the surface. Using survey equipment, a “total station,” they lay a grid over the area.  At Coan Hall, Dr. Heath used 5 feet by 5 feet squares to observe variations in sediment color and texture. The earth is carefully sifted through screens of various sizes. Artifacts, animal bones, shells and evidence of human activity are collected on site.  They are washed, sorted, and carefully labeled for laboratory analysis. In the lab, artifacts are catalogued along with field records, maps and photos.

For the full article, pick up the latest Northumberland Echo 10/30/19

Margaret Forrester (Recording Secretary) at the first of the displays of the Coan Exhibit.