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Enfield Shaker Archaeology Field School Banner

Shaker Studies: Enfield Shaker Archaeology Field School

Since 2015, Enfield Shaker Museum and Plymouth State University (PSU) have collaborated to sponsor an annual Shaker Archaeology Field School on the site of the former Enfield Shaker Village Church Family under the direction of Dr. David Starbuck. Dr. Starbuck is a Professor of Anthropology at Plymouth State University (retired 2020) and an historical and industrial archaeologist specializing in the archaeology of America’s forts and battlefields, the archaeology of utopian societies (the Shakers), and the archaeology of medieval and post-medieval sites in Scotland. Participants in the field school have included PSU students and former students, Enfield Shaker Museum staff and volunteers, and amateur archaeologists who have previously worked with Dr. Starbuck.

Enfield Archaeology Field School Sites
2015 – Trustees’ Office
2016 – Blacksmith Shop, Tannery, and Pit House
2017 – Horse Barn and School House Privy
2018 – First Dwelling House and Boys’ Shop
2019 – Boys’ Shop and West Meadow Barn
2020 – Currier’s Shop

Because archaeology is necessarily a destructive process, Enfield Shaker Museum recognizes its responsibility to ensure that each archaeology field school project has the greatest possible research return.

Before we begin to dig, we use a variety of non-invasive techniques to survey each field school site, including searching historic documents, maps, and utilizing aerial photography, magnetometry, thermal imaging, and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging, a form of 3D mapping)–all by drone. In addition, Enfield Shaker Museum is fortunate to have in its archive a professional site survey map that was prepared in 1917 for the Shakers themselves. Most structures, roadways, and fences are shown to scale. The Museum has had the 1917 map overlaid on to a recent survey map, which allows us to undertake our field school work with a minimum of disturbance to the site. In fact, we have found that the two maps are out of alignment by only about 50 cm (19 1/2 inches).

In a collaborative arrangement such as this, everyone succeeds. Enfield Shaker Museum has located several long-missing structures and received over 120 boxes of artifacts, which enables us to create new exhibits and enhance our visitors’ experience. Plymouth State students, many of whom are New Hampshire residents, have the opportunity to participate in an archaeological field school close to their home (for college credit if they wish), to learn the skills involved in excavation, cleaning artifacts, and classifying the material–and to discover if archaeology is the right field for them.

For photos of our last five digs, check out the image gallery below:

Enfield Shaker Museum
447 NH Rt 4A
Enfield, NH 03748