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Parish History Notes 6: The Brick Dust

During the 1997 excavation under Fork Church the layers of stratigraphy were identified on our log by letters, while the features or disturbances through the layers were designated by Roman numerals. Perhaps the most significant level, Layer D, was a consistent, salmon-colored powder that accumulated to a depth of 4 inches midway between the aisle and each side wall and became thinner, but did not disappear, as it approached the aisle and the walls. This powder was, in fact, an accumulation of dust from the cutting and polishing of the bricks by the masons as they created the exterior walls. The layer became an important orientation feature for us because it defined the construction date of the church. Any posthole or other feature that was sealed below Layer D had existed before the construction of the church, while a feature that pierced this layer was created later than the date of construction. For example, an item related to the period of the Chapel in the Forks would have to be sealed by Layer D.

It’s fun to imagine the scene, circa 1738: a number of brick masons standing high on a rough-hewn scaffold creating a pink atmosphere below them as they demonstrated their skills on this bold religious icon at the frontier of European settlement. What a help they were to 20th century archaeology, too, by creating Layer D.