A map drawn in 1871 by Alexander Burke Iles, indicates three post-emancipation African Villages. One was known to have been occupied up until the 1950s, the others were more obscure. Landscape survey carried out in 2004 located what may have been the site of Morgan’s Village and surface artifacts suggested a strong pre-emancipation component. No further work was conducted. During the Field School season of 2011 at Bush Hill a follow-up survey was conducted simply to check on the status of the various village sites. To our dismay we learned that two of the sites; Vaughns and Harpies had been graded and developed. Only the site of Morgan’s remained and it was also subject to new construction. We determined that some measure of documentation was necessary before this site was lost.
Updated November 2013
Above left.: Joanna, Kate and Brandon confront the dense brush that covers the possible site of Morgan's Village.
Above right: Kate and Sarah excavte a test unit beneath a large stone wall.
Survey consitions on the site were often challenging. Above right: Matt takes a brief break from trowelling the mud.
In our estimation the Morgan’s site represented an important period on Nevis history; the transitional phase from colonial slave-base plantations to an economy with free labor and a free citizenry. This was a period of change and nascent post-colonialism that set the stage for emergent Nevisian identity.
The Morgan’s site is at 985 feet elevation on the western side of Mt Nevis and associated with the Morgan Estate. The Morgan Estate land is privately owned and was not included in our survey. The owners of homes immediately adjacent to the site graciously permitted our crew to visually survey their land and for this we are sincerely grateful, as it added to our understanding of the landscape dynamics of the village location.
When notworking in the field there is the endless task of processing artifacts. At left: Megan, Carlos and Carolyn draw.At right: Jaonna and Michelle identify artifacts for the catalogue.
The Morgan’s Village Project had two principal goals. The first was to conduct a close interval survey of the area suspected as the site of the historic village. The second operational goal was to carry out systematic subsurface testing to establish site integrity, depth and to recover diagnostic artifacts. Both of these goals were achieved owing to the hardworking and dedicated crew who found themselves occasionally excavating in the rain or surveying in such dense brush that team members could barely see one another. The rain turned excavation units into mud pools. When the sun came out the resulting humidity combined with the normal high temperatures contributed to our pleasure. Vervet monkeys were constantly on site to observe.Our first season yielded some surprising findings. Two historic roads were located bisecting the site, each heavily overgrown but with stacked dry-stone walls still in place. Several terraces on the steeply sloped hill where the site was situated supported low walls, stone house platforms and rectangular dry-stone foundations. Artifacts on the surface and those recovered from nine excavation units were almost uniformly early types. Although analysis is preliminary at this point, the majority have mean manufacturing dates pre 1800. Pipe stems, bottle bases, and especially lead glazed yellow and brown slip decorated wares, some Staffordshire wares, and Rhenish stoneware vessels all point to the late 1700s. Where was the post-emancipation component? The Iles map had suggested an active village as late as 1871, yet we could not find any trace of it. Had the village relocated after emancipation? Was anyone still living at this site mid-nineteenth century? More work need to be done to answer these questions, but we have clearly encountered a pre-emancipation community.
In all we recovered several hundred ceramic and glass artifacts, a few dozen pipe stems, a cane hoe, and a few unusual items still being evaluated.
Below left: Michelle, Kate, Sarah and Lauren relax at the Water Department BBQ. Right: The crew relaxes at the pool courtesy of the management of Golden Rock Inn. Golden Rock has been a supporter of our research for several years and we extend our deep gratitude for providing our students a respite from the forest.
Below. Arriving at Charlestown Harbor in Gallows Bay, aboard the ferry Carib Breeze from St Kitts. Mt. Nevis in background.The mountain climb can be very exciting. A local guide is highly recommended.
Lauren and Bre illustrate why Project Directors have to be fearless. Annual Pirate Night.
Carlos, Esmirna, and Marco climbed Mt Nevis depsite heavy rain. Our guide led us to the top in under three hours. Once on top the cloud cover and mist was as thick as the forest.