A few of my students and I, along with some of my archaeologists friends, worked at the Hamline Methodist Church site on Saturday. I was hoping to get a couple of units excavated outside of the east wall before winter shuts down the dig. Our earlier work led me to expect a fairly easy day of digging – a burned layer with shattered glass and other artifacts from the church at about 40 cm below the ground. We found the burned layer just as I expected, but we also found a surprise – a second stone foundation.
This second foundation is a mystery. All the photographs I’ve seen of the church are from the front and provide no indication of what we’d find in the back of the building. The second foundation was built of small limestone blocks so it clearly was not a ‘load-bearing’ foundation. It could have been built to support a relatively modest building like a shed or other small outbuilding. On the other hand, the foundation could be part of the church – perhaps from a back doorway. The second foundation runs parallel to the church’s east wall, about 70 cm away. We have not completely exposed the portion of the foundation that lies within our excavation units. Once we finish clearing away the dirt, I should be able to determine whether it connects to the church or is part of a stand alone structure. I would really like to dig more if it turns out to be separate from the church, but I’m convinced our Minnesota winter is not going to wait that long.
No matter what happens with the weather, we’ve made amazing progress. This week we’ll concentrate on removing the rest of the burn layer outside the church (and in the process possibly answer my questions about the second foundation). We’ll also map the rubble inside the church, then see what is left underneath. With a little luck, we may not have any mysteries left to solve by the end of this week.
Photographs do not do the site justice. It’s really worth seeing in person. Anyone interest can join a tour I’m offering on Tuesday (Nov. 10th) of this fall’s excavation sites – starting at our Old Main dig at 2:45 PM.
Look for more photos of Saturday’s dig on my Flickr page (see link on side bar).