Centuries-old artifacts found at Stanhope dig

Parks Canada says public interest in the Stanhope historical dig has been overwhelming this year, as the three-year-old dig has uncovered dozens of centuries-old artifacts in a cellar.

"It's wonderful. I don't mind getting dirty. I guess it's just the thrill, the excitement of maybe finding something," said Sharon Doyle, who spent Wednesday morning digging in dirt.

It paid off when her shovel hit the biggest find yet, several large pieces of a white porcelain bowl. "And the more dirt we uncovered, it just got bigger and bigger. That was amazing, that it still survived, and in between the rocks," she said.

Doyle is one of 35 volunteers on the archeological dig at Stanhope in Prince Edward Island National Park. There's been so much public interest they've had to turn people away.

Volunteers, supervised by an archeologist, are uncovering the cellar of a home from the late 1700s. This is the third year of the dig, started by The Stanhope Historical Society. But the presence of a homestead in the area came as a big surprise to archeologists. "It's still a mystery. There's nothing in the historical record to indicate there was anything here at all," said John Palmer, a past president of the society.

The likely inhabitants were the Lawson and Bovers families, Palmer said.

This year's finds include several pieces of dishes, glass from windows and bottles, nails, and a knife-like tool. Those artifacts will be sent to a Halifax lab for analysis over the winter.

The dig will likely continue for several more years.

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