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Stage I: Uncomfortable Immigrants (ca. AD 1300-1400)

This stage corresponds to the initial occupation, we propose, by the immigrant group. Radiocarbon dates indicate arrival around AD 1300. Protection for the residents was clearly a concern at this time, and is one that likely reflects residual concerns from their homeland as well as uncertain relations with local groups. The frequency of fortified sites increases markedly to the north at about the same time and is taken as a sign of widespread conflict and disruptions. It was during this stage that the site most likely served as a nucleated and defended community for the newly arrived group. Burial of the dead may have occurred mostly outside of the palisaded area at this time.

Schematic diagram of village evolutionThe sister site of Moyaone (18PR8) may have been settled at about the same time as 44ST2. A roughly similar sequence of stages can be discerned from the site plan (Stephenson et al. 1963). The outermost system is the only one to include an interior ditch/borrow pits, as is the case at Potomac Creek. Bastions are not evident in the Moyaone plan, but excavation procedures and limits might have left them undocumented.

A pair of well-populated villages could have sustained a reproducible population. Using crude estimates, applied to Owasco/Iroquoian villages, of approximately 20 m²/person (Snow 1994:30), the maximum number that could comfortably reside within the full interior of 44ST2 (i.e., during Phase 1) is roughly 250-300 persons. These same calculations give a maximum population for Moyaone of 300-320 (approximately 6,100 m²). This can roughly translate into an initial "founding population" of over 500, divided between at least two nucleated, fortified villages.

Probably the earliest enclosures associated with this stage at 44ST2 are the outermost palisade lines, represented in the project area by the Feature 11 palisade trench, the line of driven posts adjacent to the Feature 11 trench, and possibly the Feature 9 palisade trench. Judging from Stewart's site plan, these features extend more or less continuously around the entire perimeter. Bastions are clearly more numerous along this outer perimeter and may occur only in association with it. Feature 21 in the project area is an example of a bastion footprint formed by a narrow trench. No less than six and possibly seven whole or partial bastion plans are evident in Stewart's plan. All of them appear at the north, west, and east sides of the site. Whether these towers were considered unnecessary along the sheer bluff to the south is not clear since excavation on that segment is minimal.

At this and later phases, the palisade lines are believed to have occurred in sets to form a more imposing barrier and to create complex entryways. The exact number and configuration of the palisade lines is not clear except in well-documented segments. Overlapping trench and driven-post lines in this outer perimeter are the most confusing. There are no less than six palisades of different types near the outer perimeter, beyond the ditch feature. At least two of these (Feature 11 and the adjacent driven-post line) and possibly a third (Feature 9) are viewed as units of the same enclosure system. Ethnohistorical accounts have been helpful in establishing that complex fortification systems were constructed by area natives. Examples are as follows:

Their Fortifications consist only of a Palisado of about ten or twelve foot high, and when they would make themselves very safe they treble the pale [emphasis added]. They often encompass the whole town...[Beverley 1947:149].

They conducted us to their pallizadoed town, mantelled with the barkes of trees, with Scaffolds like mounts, brested about with Barks very formally [Smith 1986b].

Multiple palisade lines are also well known at contemporary sites to the north and west.

The site area was at its maximum at this time, with an outside diameter of about 85 m and an interior space of about 5,675 m². These dimensions compare favorably with other fortified sites known to enclose an entire community.

Reconstruction or replacement of the first enclosure probably occurred in about the same location. In the project area, remodeling may be represented by the Feature 10 and 27 palisade trenches and the driven-post palisade immediately adjacent to Feature 10. Bastions may not be a part of these later barriers at all, but, if they are, they are less numerous. In this interpretation, the site would still have served as a nucleated community.

Construction of the encircling ditch was begun and probably finished in this stage. Feature 15 is a large, elongated basin that intruded upon the earlier Feature 9 palisade trench. A broken line of such pits or basins arranged in a circle around the settlement are documented at other sites of the period. Examples include the Winslow and Fisher Montgomery Focus sites (Slattery and Woodward 1992), and the Moyaone (Stephenson et al. 1963) site. Feature 15 may be a vestige of this kind of feature. The placement of the ditch relative to palisades is made clear through comparisons with other sites where it clearly was interior, such as the related site of Moyaone (18PR8). As noted, these are among the sites where this kind of feature appears more as an encircling line of pits rather than a continuous ditch. (Whether this represents the effect of plow truncation after which only deeper sections are preserved is uncertain.) It is interesting to note that the ditch feature at Moyaone is also associated with the outermost group of barriers. The function of the ditch is believed to have been originally as a borrow pit for soil banked against the interior palisade wall for support, after which it became a convenient dump for refuse. Similar features are also reported for Owasco sites in New York.

The culmination of this stage was completion of the ditch or, more properly, maximum reinforcement of the interior palisade with an earthen embankment. The Feature 8 line of driven posts is possibly the innermost barrier of this system. After this phase the site began to gradually contract in size.