Digging for Captain George Denison’s Stockade or Palisades
My great-great grandmother, Grace Billings Denison Noyes, was born in the 1717 Denison House, now a museum at 120 Pequotsepos Road. I have been active in the Denison Homestead since 2003 and I am currently the President.
For the last 8 years I have taken school children through the house, dressed in colonial garb, and lead mock archaeology digs. The kids find arrow heads, shells, old metal tools, 17th and 18th century pottery pieces, glass, animal bones, etc.
In June, 2011, Dr. Kevin McBride, director of research at the Pequot Museum, and the UConn Archaeological Field School students launched a “real” dig seeking evidence of a 1660’s stockade that surrounded Capt. Denison’s original house. They also hoped to find evidence left from some 300 men; English, friendly Pequots and Mohegans, that trained on Denison’s meadow, now a Farm Market field, before heading off to RI to fight the Narragansett Indians in what later became known as King Philip’s War and The Great Swamp Fight in the 1670’s. Diggers hoped to find 1600’s horseshoes, old armor, pottery, iron pieces, foundations, signs of the stockade, etc.
Information from historic documents-“ Here, in 1654, on a rocky knoll overlooking the meadows, Denison built a rough lean-to of poles and thick slabs of bark house with a stone fireplace and chimney at one end. Forever cognizant of the possibility of Indian attacks, he surrounded this rude home with a stout stockade, enclosing a spring and a couple of acres of land…. The Ct regiment under Major Trent, some 300 men, gathered at Capt. Denison’s stockade.”
After 3 days of digging the archeologists feel they might have found the remains of Denison’s original lean-to house, built in 1654, a significant find! Dr. McBride plans to come back next year to do phase II of the dig. Captain George Denison played a prominent role in early Mystic and New London history. He was granted 200 acres in 1654 by John Winthrop, Jr. for his service in the Colonial militia. Most of those original acres are still owned by the Denison’s today. Visitors are welcome to tour the house and see the Dig!
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