The properties owned by the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust have been forever set aside because they have been woven into the fabric of those special places around which the beauty, character and history of our community has evolved. Each of them has their own special story to tell, a story that recovered Native American artifacts dates back thousands of years before European contact. As today's stewards of the land, the KCT wants to find out more about those who once lived here. We want to honor them by learning about where they lived, how they lived and what they most valued. Then, through our Trust in Education program, we want to pass their story on as another chapter in the tale of our town, another chance to deepen our understanding of those who were stewards before us, those who passed on this place that we now call home.
Cape Porpoise Archaeological Alliance
The Cape Porpoise Archaeological Alliance (CPAA) was formed in 2017 to conduct scientific archaeological research on the islands and intertidal zone of Cape Porpoise Harbor. The partnership is a collaboration between the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust (KCT), the Brick Store Museum, Tim Spahr serving as the Principle Investigator/Archaeologist and Gemma Hudgell, consulting Archaeologist.
In the summer of 2018, CPAA is offering a three-day workshop that will conduct an archeological experiment in the harbor. To learn more, click here.
Digging for History - Why Now?
The KCT has started its archaeological search on the islands of Cape Porpoise. It was to those islands that the first European fishermen travelled in the early part of the 17th century, using them as their home base as they harvested the rich fisheries of the Gulf of Maine. They would cure their catch on fish "stages" before packing it aboard their ships for the long journey home. Stage Island and Stage Harbor derived their name as a result of this process. At first these early fishermen just spent the summer months on the island, heading home before the harsh and uncertain conditions of winter. Eventually, however, there were those who decided to brave the season, and in that effort a new Maine village was born. Who were those first settlers? How many of them were there? What were their homes like and how well did they survive those first winters? These are just a few of the many questions we'd love to find answers to.
Discoveries on the islands over the past several years indicate that there is even a far deeper story to tell than this. Native American stone tools found on the islands show that they too had come to this place to harvest the sea long before its European discover. Indeed, that figure could well be over 2000 years ago. What was their life like on the island? How did that life fit into their seasonal patterns and of what importance was their catch here to their survival? Then there are ultimate questions that are a part of the framework of early American colonization, when did the two cultures first come together and did that contact period go?
If we are to find the answers to these questions then the time to do it is now. The reason why some artifacts have been found is the result of erosion. Whole parts is Stage Island have been washed away since colonial times. The chance that more degradation of the shoreline will take place is ever present. That's why we are acting now. Who knows what will be found. Our story could well be one of great regional and national significance in the early history of our nation. The more we dig into our past the more we will know, and that digging is underway.