New Hampshire doesn’t have a whole lot of pre-Contact sites for archaeology and anthropology, but we have more of them than many of us realize – as I mentioned as far back as 2014. Most of them aren’t publicized from fear that people will swipe stuff or just trample it while visiting. Last August I wrote about one of the few that isn’t kept secret (here), because it’s about to fall into the Connecticut River.
One of the best sites in the state is the Potter site in the North Country town of Randolph, named after the man who owned the property, which is the subject of this press release. The release includes this note: “Due to the sensitive nature of archaeological sites, no images of the Potter Site are available for print and broadcast.”
Paleoindian site in NH named to National Register of Historic Places
The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources has announced that the Potter Site in Randolph has been honored by the United States Secretary of the Interior with placement on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance as an archaeological property.
The eight-acre Potter site is a rare example of a highly intact, exclusively Paleoindian multi-purpose archaeological site. Studies done by professional archaeologists indicate that it was used intermittently as seasonal hunting and fishing camps from 12,500-10,500 B.C.
Data recovered at the site through archaeological study has provided important information that has led to better understanding of the Paleoindian period in the Northeast.
Potter Site’s topography had advantages for those who camped there. Elevated portions provided vantage points for spotting caribou herds that migrated through the White Mountains; the hunting culture relied on caribou for food, clothing, tents, and for bone and antler that were used for tools. An intermittent stream that drains into wetland supplied plant materials for food and medicine.
A majority of the artifacts recovered at the site during excavation are byproducts from the manufacture of chipped stone tools, including butchery implements, hide working tools, hunting weapons, woodworking tools and tools for cutting, scraping and shaping. While the artifacts hold no real monetary value, they help archaeologists learn more about the daily lives of those who lived at the site.
Potter Site’s layout indicates that three household encampments were scattered across the area, along with three stone tool production workshops, a wooden tool production workshop and three undefined activity sites. When inhabited, the household encampments and workshop areas would have been within a few feet of each other.
A portion of the stone tools and stone debris recovered come from stones not naturally found in the area, indicating that people at the Potter site traveled throughout the region, interacted with other Paleoindian groups and that the site itself was part of a much larger settlement system.
Additional professional archaeological study of the Potter site may result in discovering additional important information regarding the little-known period of human habitation of the Americas, especially in the Northeast, around the end of the Ice Age.
Administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of historic resources worthy of preservation and is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our historic and archaeological resources.
Listing to the National Register does not impose any new or additional restrictions or limitations on the use of private or non-federal properties. Listings identify historically significant properties and can serve as educational tools and increase heritage tourism opportunities. The rehabilitation of National Register-listed commercial or industrial buildings may qualify for certain federal tax provisions.
In New Hampshire, listing to the National Register makes applicable property owners eligible for grants such as the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program or LCHIP (lchip.org) and the Conservation License Plate Program (nh.gov/nhdhr/grants/moose).
For more information on the National Register program in New Hampshire, please visit nh.gov/nhdhr or contact the Division of Historical Resources at 603-271-3583.
Fascinating article. Interesting- I have spent a lot of time viewing and reading about many sites in England of similar age- I am not an archeologist but find it endlessly fascinating. Would like to get any info that you send to the public and learn whether it is OK to visit any of these sites. Many years ago my cousin, an archeologist, worked on a site near the Connecticut river by the Hanover -Norwich bridge. So much to learn.
Thanks for listing this work.
As I note in the article, these sites are almost never publicized out of concern that “souvenir” hunters would descend.
I have visited a couple N.H. digs over the years and frankly, they’re pretty uninteresting to the visitor. Unless you’re spending a couple hours scraping and brushing and analyzing, there isn’t much to see.
I had no idea such sites existed here in NH. Thanks for such an interesting coverage!
In reference to Ms Goodman’s comments, visiting an archaeological dig is like watching a garden grow. It takes a lot of time and patience, the rewards are a long time in coming and sometimes there’s not much at all to show for it. But the rewards can be wonderful and may often come in the winter when you go back to the fruits that you have harvested. In that vein there are several publications in the journal published the the New Hampshire Archeological Society, The New Hampshire Archeologist, about sites of this age and other time periods as well. A major article summarizing the Potter Site is scheduled for late this year. Members of the NHAS will receive this journal. The Society maintains an active website as well as Facebook page where the public can find all manner of information on New Hampshire archeology including how to join.
I’m confused. The Potter Farm that is so well known to so many people is on Route 3 just below Groveton and just above the original center of town (before there was the big miil complex) of Northumberland; if the 8-acre site is indeed there, it might be falling into the Connecticut; but the town of Randolph is far to the southeast, on Route 2, just East of Jefferson; and if parts of the site are indeed falling into a river, it would be Israel’s River, named for Israel Glines, a trapper.
Help! (But a fine piece, as usual, and I was not surprised to see former State Archaeologist Dick Boisvert chime in.