Brewster House Site Archaeological Dig

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The Duxbury Rural and Historical Society will conduct, during the last week of October and the first week of November, an archaeological testing procedure at what is alleged to be the site of the home of Elder William Brewster, a Mayflower passenger and one of the first settlers of Duxbury.

Among the many parcels of open space the Historical Society owns across Duxbury are several historical sites where once stood important buildings in centuries past.  One of these is a lot known as the “Brewster Lilacs” off of Marshall Street on Standish Shore. The knoll was once the location of Elder William Brewster’s first house in Duxbury. According to tradition, Brewster brought the first lilacs from Holland to New England. The plant is not native to America. The huge lilac stand present on the site is believed to be descended from the original Brewster lilacs.

An old foundation is clearly evident on the site as well as the remains of an old well. Some historians have argued that this foundation is that of Elder Brewster’s first house, dating to about 1630. Other have argued that it is a later foundation, perhaps late 17th or early 18th century, belonging to a house built by one of Brewster’s descendants. The primary purpose of the dig will be to determine the age of the structure that once stood there and whether it was Elder Brewster’s first house.

The dig will be overseen by certified archaeologist Craig Chartier, director of the Plymouth Archaeological Rediscovery Project. Chartier has conducted digs on significant sites throughout southeastern Massachusetts including the Society’s Second Meeting House dig in 2008.

The Society is eagerly seeking volunteers for the archaeology project.  Participation does not require any prior experience.  Volunteers may participate at any level they prefer, whether it is one hour or several afternoons. Those interested in volunteering should contact Alison Arnold at 781-934-6106 or It is strongly encouraged that volunteers sign up in advance so that they can receive a packet of instructions before the dig. This is a very rare opportunity for individuals to be involved in a dig at a “first period” site.

The dig will take place Monday-Friday, 9-4, October 24 through November 9.