Posted by: wadahp | October 19, 2009

UO (and DAHP) Archaeologists in Scotland

Several University of Oregon archaeologists have been working in Scotland for the last three years, researching the childhood home of John Paul Jones (born John Paul) who is considered by some to be the father of the U.S. Navy. He is best known for the naval battle off the English coast during the Revolutionary War when he defeated a far better armed English warship, Serapis. It was during this battle that he responded “I have not yet begun to fight!” when called to surrender. After taking the English ship, Jones’ vessel, the Bonhomme Richard, sank.

For several years the US Navy (represented in the effort by the Navy’s marine archaeologist, Dr. Bob Neyland) has partnered with a number of private foundations to search for the Bonhomme Richard. As a corollary to this effort, Dr. Julie Schablitsky (UO-Museum of Natural and Cultural History) launched a project to archaeologically explore the boyhood home of John Paul Jones, near Dumfries, Scotland. The crew includes: Dr. Tom Connolly (UO-Museum of Natural and Cultural History), Dr. Guy Tasa (formerly with the UO, now with the Washington Dept of Archaeology and Historic Preservation), Chelsea Rose (UO anthropology graduate), John Craig (volunteer, Salem) and Bob Ward (volunteer, Texas).

Excavations at the JPJ cottage; Dr. Bob Neyland and Bob Ward in foreground; Dr. Guy Tasa in center, Chelsea Rose with umbrella. John Paul was born the son of a gardener, who was employed on the Arbigland Estate, overlooking the Solway Firth in southwest Scotland. The crew has worked for two years exploring the grounds of the gardener’s cottage, which is now a John Paul Jones museum. The crew had success in identifying 18th and 19th century residential use of the site, including the JPJ family era.

During August 2009, the crew began its third year exploring the archaeology of the larger Arbigland Estate, to better document the broader historic context of the site. The current manor house was built in 1755, and replaced an earlier defensive tower house. There are farmlands and other developments (a brick factory, a blacksmith, etc.) that date from the estate period (after ca. 1500). There are also remains from Mesolithic through medieval times, which capture the thread of Scottish history within a stone’s throw from the cottage. This year began systematic survey on the estate, with a modest amount of exploratory digging, in an effort to document the varied cultural elements that represent ancient to recent Scottish history.

Will they return in 2010? We hope so, as there is much to do and learn. Archaeology is a way to time-travel, to experience the past and even better, to explain how it can affect the future. To find out more, email Dr. Schablitsky at



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