Thursday, January 9, 2020

Archaeologist brings history to life for high school students

Windham residents may be aware of the dig that took place on River Road this fall, uncovering portions of historic Province Fort. Justin Blanchard, a student at Windham High School, was one of many people passing the dig site on a daily basis.

Blanchard mentioned the dig to his history teacher, Ms. Dunn, who was eager to use it as a way to
Artifacts from the 2016 dig
discuss history, careers, and how the past and the present connect.

“Teaching primarily ancient history, it can be a challenge to find relatable connections for our students,” says Ms. Dunn. The Province Fort dig, while not a perfect fit for ‘ancient’ history, could still be a great opportunity to create some of those connections, and with a local emphasis rarely available.

It is with this hope that the school reached out to John Mosher, Lead Archaeologist for the Province Fort dig.

“With the archaeological dig happening so close by, it just made sense to contact the dig team and see if there might be an educational opportunity for our students.” says Lanet Hane, Director of Community Connections.

Mosher was quick to respond, expressing an eagerness to help educate students about the value of the historical work they were doing. Mosher agreed to come into the school after the dig had been completed to speak to classes as well as individual interested students.

Mosher came into the building with a vast array of local knowledge, engaging students in an exploration of the history of Windham and the surrounding area, including an understanding of the original settlement and the contested nature of the region as a borderland. He discussed the dig that was completed of a portion of the fort in the late 70s, brought in artifacts from the 2016 dig (as the artifacts from this year’s dig are still being cleaned and categorized), and answered a number of questions.

Blanchard appreciated his expertise, especially his knowledge of historic tools, “He brought in the old nails they had with rectangle heads. That was pretty cool.”

Ms. Dunn said it was a fantastic experience for everyone, “It was really helpful to have someone who could bring history to life for them. It was also great to be able to talk about the exact location, which all of the students knew, and have it be so local.”

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