Digging into a mid 1800s tavern trash pit

Steve in PA

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Jul 5, 2010
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Saturday I dug a small exploratory test hole into a trash deposit on the site of a tavern/inn that was active from the 1830s into the 1860s. I have found a large cent, a half cent, a two cent, a flying eagle, fatty IHPs, and a seated dime, along with other relics from the period, but I have exhausted all the targets accessible by surface hunting. Here is the hole I opened up.
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At about a foot down, there is a layer of broken ceramics about 8 inches deep. I like to save the colorful pieces to put in display cases.
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I was only able to recover one good metallic target, a large cent with a glob of iron fused to it.
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It took a little work to remove the iron encrustation from the LC, but I got it to the point where it's recognizable.
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Here is my hole sewed back up. I will return in the winter months with a tarp and open a larger area.
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Last edited:
Upvote 51

pa-dirt_nc-sand

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Apr 18, 2016
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Your intuition paid off. Lots of cool artifacts. I always wonder how many quality targets are masked at old sites. We took a Merc and buried it 4 inches at one of our cellar hole sites this weekend and our detectors could not pick it up. Too much iron, rust and minerals.

Nice LC, congrats!!
 
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Steve in PA

Steve in PA

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Jul 5, 2010
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Your intuition paid off. Lots of cool artifacts. I always wonder how many quality targets are masked at old sites. We took a Merc and buried it 4 inches at one of our cellar hole sites this weekend and our detectors could not pick it up. Too much iron, rust and minerals.

Nice LC, congrats!!
Actually I discovered this trash deposit a while back chasing deep piece of iron that turned out to be an axe head. The large cent was about 1.5 feet deep. That's an interesting experiment you did with the merc in the trashy area.
 
Last edited:
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Steve in PA

Steve in PA

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Jul 5, 2010
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All those shards look nice laid out. A very promising site, will you be screening?
Not with my sifter, although my brother did eyeball a nice gun flint in the last test hole we opened up. I'll probably get my brother to help me again and he can go through the dirt as I throw it on the tarp.
 

GoDeep

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Nov 12, 2016
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Thats a dream site, can you imagine being allowed to skim off a 6" layer of dirt over the entire site and detect the whole area? Then scrape off another 6" and detect again, keep working your way down?!
 

JeffInMass

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Jan 14, 2006
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Great work and post! I'm looking forward to seeing what you find when you widen that up with the tarp- Good luck!!
 

The Rebel

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Sep 20, 2011
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That's really cool. Would be cool to scrape that place all down to the bottom layer.
 
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Steve in PA

Steve in PA

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Jul 5, 2010
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Pittsburgh, PA
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Thats a dream site, can you imagine being allowed to skim off a 6" layer of dirt over the entire site and detect the whole area? Then scrape off another 6" and detect again, keep working your way down?!
That would be nice, but it is a mowed area right beside a road. I will be cutting small sections of sod, peeling them back, digging down until I hit clay, then pouring the dirt back in and replacing the sod. .
 

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