Enfield Shaker Archaeology Field School Banner
Enfield Shaker Archaeology Field School Banner

Shaker Studies: Enfield Shaker Archaeology Field School

Dr. David R. Starbuck in 2019
Dr. David Robert Starbuck (1949-2020)

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 R. Starbuck (1949-2020). Dr. Starbuck was 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.

In 2021, the Project Director was Hannah Dutton, M.A., Teaching Lecturer in Anthropology at Plymouth State University. Hannah has experience as a field worker, lab manager, and artifact curator at sites in New Hampshire, New York, Nicaragua, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Enfield Archaeology Field School Sites
2015 – Trustees’ Office
2016 – Blacksmith Shop, Tan House, and Pit House
2017 – Horse Barn, School House Privy, and Boys’ Shop
2018 – First Dwelling House and Boys’ Shop
2019 – Boys’ Shop and West Meadow Barn
2020 – Currier’s Shop
2021 – Brethren’s East and West Shops, Well Platform and Walkways, and Wood House
2022 – No Archaeology Field School
2023 – No Archaeology Field School

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 digs, check out the image gallery below:

Additional Resources about Archaeology at Enfield Shaker Museum

“Legacy Collections of Archaeological Materials” with Hannah Dutton – April 29, 2021
Hannah Dutton, MA, Teaching Lecturer in Anthropology at Plymouth State University discusses archaeological materials collected in the past that do not meet modern “best practice” curation techniques or have been underestimated by the host institution. Included are artifacts from a 1989 salvage excavation at Enfield Shaker Museum (begins at 36.20 minutes). This lecture was sponsored by the New Hampshire Archeological Society.

Hill, Austin C., Laugier, Elise J., and Casana, Jesse. “Archaeological Remote Sensing Using Multi-Temporal, Drone-Acquired Thermal and Near Infrared (NIR) Imagery: A Case Study at the Enfield Shaker Village, New Hampshire,” Remote Sensing 12, no. 4 (2020): 690. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12040690

Pontbriand, Dan. “Mysterious Artifact in Smith Pond,” Retired National Park Service Chief Ranger Dan Pontbriand details the search to identify the mysterious artifact we found at the bottom of Smith Pond. Upper Valley Land Trust Lunch & Learn, January 2020. www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2mFuvJOr2I

Starbuck, David R. “The Fifth Season of Excavation at Enfield Shaker Village,” Council For Northeast Historical Archaeology Newsletter Number 103, June 2019: 4-5. https://cneha.org/newsletters/n103jun19.pdf

“Recent Archeology at Enfield Shaker Village,” The New Hampshire Archeologist 59 no. 1 (2019): 1-58 (entire issue), includes:
Sandler, Kyle. “Communal Infrastructure and Development of Enfield Shaker Material Culture: The Enfield, NH, Shakers and How their Material Culture Informs our Understanding of a Community,” 1-14.
Starbuck, David R. “Recent Archeology at Enfield Shaker Village,” 15-37.
Woods, Amber. “A Comparative Analysus of Shaker Consumption Practices,” 38-50.
Pontbriand, Dan. “The Enfield Shakers: Underwater Archeology and Telephones,” 51-58.
Available in the gift shop at Enfield Shaker Museum ($25.00; member discount is 10%).

Casana, Jesse, Adam Wiewel, Autumn Cool, Austin Chad Hill, Kevin D. Fisher, and Elise J. Laugier. “Archaeological Aerial Thermography in Theory and Practice.” Advances in Archaeological Practice 5, no. 4 (2017): 310–27. doi:10.1017/aap.2017.23. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/advances-in-archaeological-practice/article/archaeological-aerial-thermography-in-theory-and-practice/F654705EEF31786D2D9F7952C90202F0

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