Archaeologist to present findings from Bayly house excavation

CAMBRIDGE – Dr. Julie Schablitsky, the archaeologist who led the excavation at the historic Bayly House in Cambridge this past fall will discuss the team’s findings in a public presentation at 7 p.m. on March 28 at the Dorchester Center for the Arts in Cambridge.


Historic research shows that a cabin behind the Bayly house has stood on the lot since the 19th century, and oral history claims it was a slave cabin. In order to determine the age and function of the building, archaeologists partnered with the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area and the landowner, Catherine Morrison, to get to the bottom of this mystery.


In September, archaeologists from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (SHA) spent two weeks at the site along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, where they unearthed hundreds of artifacts dating to the 18th and 19th centuries. The objects included pieces of plates, wine bottles, glassware, pitchers, buttons, medicine bottles, clay tobacco pipe stems, charcoal and ash, animal and fish bones, and crab shells.


Subsequent analysis has brought archaeologists some answers about the people who lived in the backyard at 207 High St., said Dr. Schablitsky, SHA’s chief archaeologist.


“This presentation will share history of the Bayly site and discuss how we used artifacts to begin to understand who lived in the cabin,” Dr. Schablitsky said. “A second excavation season in May is hoped to provide additional data on the layout of the cabin and if the home was occupied by enslaved African-Americans.”


A representative sampling of the artifacts uncovered from the site in September will be on display during presentation. In addition to Dr. Schablitsky’s talk, there will be time for questions.


The presentation is free and open to the public. For more information about the archaeology work at the site, visit the website page dedicated to the Bayly House (visitdorchester.org/bayly-house/).

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