Archaeological Walk At Sherwood Island State Park Is Nearly Complete

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Westport resident and archaeologist CeCe Saunders tells the Friends of Sherwood Island at a recent meeting that the informational plaques from the digs in 2013 are almost ready to be put up for the public to enjoy.
Westport resident and archaeologist CeCe Saunders tells the Friends of Sherwood Island at a recent meeting that the informational plaques from the digs in 2013 are almost ready to be put up for the public to enjoy. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith

WESTPORT, Conn. – Last year, archaeologists fanned out over Sherwood Island State Park to see what they could discover. This year, they are looking forward to sharing their finds in a walking tour of the coastal state park in Westport.

“We knew a lot about what we were going to find,” said Westport resident and archaeologist Cece Saunders, who helped to spearhead the dig. But, she said, “We wanted to be able to tell the public with confidence.”

With the help of several hundred Norwalk Community College students, they found foundations to one of the first houses built by the Sherwood family as well as pottery and artifacts from Native Americans. And they found a lot of trash.

“This island has a long history,” said Ernest Weigan, professor of archaeology and adviser of the Norwalk Community College Archaeology Club. They wanted to be able to show where things had been on the island.

The foundation to the Arthur Sherwood house that was demolished in the 1930s was found as well as a crushed shell roadway. Construction and domestic artifacts were found at the north end of the island in the former location of the Folly Farm.

“We found a tiny, tiny piece of pottery dated between 1000 BC and 1600 AD,” and a slate knife that had washed ashore 20 years ago that was dated to 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, Weigan said.

But not many other pieces of Native American artifacts were found, despite the opening of a separate dig site along the beach.

“CeCe was instrumental in getting grants for the archaeology work,” said Liz-Ann Koos, president of the Friends of Sherwood Island, which hosted the informational meeting. She thanked Saunders for her work over the last year.

A second grant received this year will allow the Friends of Sherwood Island to put together plaques of the information gathered through the digs, Saunders said. They signs will be put along what will become a historic walking trail for visitors to enjoy.

“We’re working with an Eagle Scout.,” Saunders said. He raised money to purchase stone and, “he’s going to put a footprint outlay of the Arthur Sherwood house. So we’ll have the sign up and then the outlay of the stone, so a visitor can walk through and actually get a sense of this is the size of the house.”

The signs aren’t quite finished yet, Saunders said. The hope is that the signs will be up for the public by the end of the summer season.

“I’m very cognizant of what it means to the community,” Saunders said. “We had a lot of wonderful forces coming together.”

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