Rocker – Stamped and Dentate – Stamped Pottery

From the Wolfe Neck Shell Midden Sitein Sussex County, Delaware

By Bill Liebeknecht

In advance of a proposed trail at Cape Henlopen State Park in Sussex County, Delaware, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control hired Dovetail Cultural Resource Group (Dovetail) to conduct a Phase I archaeological survey of the new trail. Part of this survey skirted the perimeter of the National Register-listedWolfe Neck Site (7S-D-010), a precontact shell midden Shell middens consist of an accumulation of marine shells such as oyster, clam, and whelk related to harvesting and processing by precontact peoples living near the coastline. The site has been dated between BC 782 and AD 993, based on radiocarbon dates associated with pottery previously found at the site (Custer 1984:115; Griffith and Artusy 1977:1-–9). The Phase I survey by Dovetail recovered four pottery sherds with what is known as exterior rocker-stamped and dentate-stamped decoration (Photo 1). The sherds appear to be from a single vessel. Stamped decorations are well known from surrounding regions but are extremely rare in Delaware, suggesting that the pottery vessel may have been traded or transported to the site from outside of the state and may suggest population movement. The closest match to pottery decorated in this manner appears to be from the Point Peninsula complex located over 300 miles to the north in eastern Ontario and New York state, although similar sherds have been reported from northern New Jersey and on Staten Island (Kraft 2001:197; Mason 1981; Stewart 2018:105). The only other known sherd of dentate-stamped pottery found in Delaware is a single fragment recovered from the Island Field site (7K-F-17), a ceremonial burial site associated with the Webb Complex in Kent County Delaware. The complex is mostly mortuary with a unique group of stone tools and pottery (Custer 1984:138–140). The recovery of rocker-stamped decorated pottery at the Wolfe Neck site is the only known discovery of this ware in Delaware.

Other artifacts recovered by Dovetail from the Wolfe Neck site (7S-D-010) that indicate possible ties to Point Peninsula and the Webb Complex are a sherd of fabric-impressed pottery known broadly as “Vinette I” and the midsection of a pentangular-shaped projectile point known as a Jack’s Reef point made from a high-quality jasper (Photos 2 and 3) (Custer et al. 1990:56). The Vinette I sherd may represent the plain body of a vessel decorated with the rocker-and dentate-stamped sherds noted above. Jack’s Reef points are considered especially characteristic of the Webb Complex. A more detailed analysis will be forthcoming in the Archaeological Society of Delaware Bulletin.

 

Photo 1: Dentate-Stamped Pottery Sherd on theLeft and Rocker-Stamped Sherd on the Right.
Photo 2: Vinette I Pottery Sherd with Exterior Cord Impressions.
Photo 3: Center Portion of a Jack’s Reef Pentagonal Projectile Point.

References

Custer, Jay F.
1984  Delaware Prehistoric Archaeology. University of Delaware Press, Newark.

Custer, Jay F., Karen Rosenberg, Glenn Mellin and Arthur Washburn
1990  An Update on New Research at the Island Field Site (7K-F-17), Kent County, Delaware. Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Delaware, No. 27, New Series, Wilmington, Delaware.

Griffith, Daniel R., and Richard E. Artusy, Jr.
1977  Middle Woodland Ceramics from Wolfe Neck, Sussex County, Delaware. The Archeolog XXVIII(1). The Sussex Society of Archeology and History.

Kraft, Herbert C.
2001  The Lenape-DelawareIndian Heritage: 10,000 BC to AD 2000. Lenape Books, New Jersey.

Mason, Ronald J.
1981  Great Lakes Archaeology. Academic Press, New York.

Stewart, R. Michael
2018  A Radiocarbon Foundation for Archaeology in the Upper Delaware Valley, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York. Prepared for the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office.

Turning and Burning

Turning and Burning: Locally Made Pottery from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek Assemblage

By D. Brad Hatch

July continues our series of posts highlighting the artifacts recovered from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site (31Rd1426/1426**) in Randolph County, North Carolina. Dovetail Cultural Resource Group conducted data recovery excavations at this site on behalf of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), guided by the data recovery plan authored by NCDOT (Overton 2014). Of the over 8,000 ceramic sherds recovered from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site, nearly half (3,826) were made in North Carolina. These locally produced wares underscore the importance of the ceramic industry to the economy of piedmont North Carolina and the reliance of residents on locally manufactured goods. This blog post focuses on some of the wares whose makers can be identified in order to illustrate the number of potters in the region and how far people would go to buy their goods. For a more detailed treatment of these ceramics click here.

Marked, or otherwise identifiable, wares from at least six different potters were identified in the collection gathered from the site (Table; Photos 1–7). Dates of production for these potters, when they were not known from historical references, were estimated by adding 20 years to their birth date and extending the span to the date of their death. While the production span for some of these wares may be slightly shorter or longer, they are probably not exceedingly different. The majority of these potters began production prior to 1850. However, most had a production range that extended through the latter half of the nineteenth century. Notably, all of these potters had kilns in Randolph County during at least some portion of their career. Jacob Craven had at least three kilns during his lifetime, one of which was in Randolph County, while the remaining two were located just south of the county line in Moore County. All of the kilns used by these potters during their periods of production were located within 14 miles (22.5 km) of the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site and half were within 10 miles (16.1 km) (Figure).

PotterKiln LocationDate of Production
Jacob D. CravenRandolph and Moore Counties, NCca. 1847-1895
Enoch S. CravenRandolph County, NCca. 1830-1893
William N. CravenRandolph County, NC1842-1857
Nathan B. DicksRandolph County, NCca. 1875-1918
Alfred L. MoodyRandolph County, NCca. 1880-1924
Chester WebsterRandolph County, NCca. 1840-1882
Table: Identified Potters Represented in the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek Assemblage.

A brief glimpse of this extraordinary grouping of locally made ceramics from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site provides important insight into the development of the ceramic industry in Randolph County from approximately 1840 to the early-twentieth century, a period when the potting tradition in this region was flourishing. It also suggests that local residents were paramount in supporting these artisans throughout history, allowing potters and their families to put down roots and prosper in the region. As a result, many of the descendants of the potters identified in this assemblage still produce ceramic wares in the area and pottery production remains an important aspect of the economy in the North Carolina piedmont.

Photo 1: Locally Made Coarse Earthenware Jar Fragment with Sine Wave Decoration, Attributed to Nathan Dicks.

Photo 1: Locally Made Coarse Earthenware Jar Fragment with Sine Wave Decoration, Attributed to Nathan Dicks.

Photo 2: Locally Made Earthenware Chamber Pot with N.B. Dicks Mark.

Photo 2: Locally Made Earthenware Chamber Pot with N.B. Dicks Mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo 3: Locally Made Stoneware Jug with W.N. Craven Mark.

Photo 3: Locally Made Stoneware Jug with W.N. Craven Mark.

Photo 4: Locally Made Stoneware Pot with E.S. Craven Mark.

Photo 4: Locally Made Stoneware Pot with E.S. Craven Mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo 5: Locally Made Stoneware Jug or Pitcher with J.D. Craven and Capacity Mark.

Photo 5: Locally Made Stoneware Jug or Pitcher with J.D. Craven and Capacity Mark.

Photo 6: Locally Made Stoneware Vessel with A.L. Moody Mark.

Photo 6: Locally Made Stoneware Vessel with A.L. Moody Mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo 7: Locally Made Stoneware Jug with Bird Decoration Attributed to Chester Webster.

Photo 7: Locally Made Stoneware Jug with Bird Decoration Attributed to Chester Webster.

 

Figure: Map Showing Location of Kilns for Identified Potters in Relation to the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek Site.

Figure: Map Showing Location of Kilns for Identified Potters in Relation to the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek Site.

 

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

References:

Overton, Brian
2014    Archaeological Data Recovery Plan: Site 31Rd1426, Randolph County, North Carolina. North Carolina Department of Transportation Human Environment Section, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Check out Jefferson Patterson Park’s Diagnostic Artifacts webpage for more images of stonewares recovered from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek Site.

Discussions with local North Carolina potters, scholars, and collectors of North Carolina pottery were instrumental in the identification of the locally produced wares from the Trogdon-Squirrel Creek site. Specifically, I would like to express my gratitude to Hal Pugh and Eleanor Minnock-Pugh of New Salem Pottery, Mary Farrell of Westmoore Pottery, and Tommy Cranford.