Archeological work is underway at Route 1 and Route 16 outside Milton, a site where Delaware Department of Transportation plans to build an overpass. Before construction can begin though, the site is being examined for its historical significance. For the past few weeks, a crew from Virginia-based Dovetail Cultural Resource Group has established a grid and is digging, sifting and sorting a variety of artifacts that has shown up on and along the southeast corner of the future overpass.
During a recent on-site visit, DelDOT archeologist Kyle Edwards said the federal government is contributing funds for the overpass, but accepting federal funds requires examining the site for historical significance.
It is called the Clark Tenant site, Edwards said. It represents a historic domestic complex, which was occupied from the late-18th through the mid-19th century. He said its inhabitants did not own the land but worked the fields. He said research will help determine if they were tenant farmers or if they were slaves who were forced to farm the land.
Dovetail Regional Manager Bill Liebeknecht, also on site, said the crew has found dozens of artifacts – arrowheads dating to sometime around 1,000 A.D., and buttons, pipe stems, glass and pieces of brick dating to the late 1700s and early 1800s.
Liebeknecht said the archeological process began in 2016 when the site, a farm field, was plowed and artifacts were found by field technicians walking the land. He said a concentration of artifacts was found in an area now surrounded by orange fencing.
Liebeknecht said it’s an interesting site because they know it was last inhabited sometime between 1790 and 1830. It’s a set of really tight parameters, which means it gives a good look into what was specifically happening in the life of the people who were living here, he said.
Edwards said he doesn’t expect anything to be found that will prevent the overpass from being built as scheduled. He said the public is invited to visit the site starting Monday, April 8. In addition to allowing the public to visit, Edwards said Dovetail’s report, when complete, will be available online, and the artifacts will also be available for people to see.