In 2023 Strawbery Banke will not offer an archaeological field school. However, the department is conducting a preliminary survey on the museum grounds and volunteers are welcome to join!

The first permanent English structure at the settlement the English called Strawbery Banke was John Mason's so-called "Great House," built in 1631. The house was likely a post-in-ground structure without a stone foundation.

Although the Great House did not survive, evidently part of the house and one of its chimneys remained on site until 1695. The location of the Great House may have been at what is now the corner of Court and Marcy Streets, where the Oracle House is today. The Oracle House, built in 1702 and moved to its current location in the early 20th century, could sit atop material evidence related to the Great House or Mason's occupation.

Volunteers work with the Museum's archaeologist to conduct a shovel test pit survey.  A grid of 50 by 50-centimeter test pits will be laid out and dug across the property to assess the site stratigraphy, identify any archaeological features, and recover any artifacts. 

Artifacts from the early 17th century or features that are consistent with the construction of a post-in-ground structure may help corroborate historians' believed Great House location. If evidence is uncovered, this research could help answer questions about what the earliest English settlers brought with them, what they ate, and what objects, foods, or customs they may have borrowed or acquired from the local Abenaki population.

Click here for more information about The Great House by J. Dennis Robinson.

For more information about this project, please contact Alix Martin, Archaeologist, at amartin[at] and check back here for volunteer sign-ups in late spring.

About the Project Director: 
Dr. Alexandra Martin is a Registered Professional Archaeologist with nearly 20 years of experience on archaeological sites and with archaeological collections. Alix has worked with field school students at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Archaeological Field Schools and has directed annual field schools at Strawbery Banke Museum since 2014. Alix is also an anthropology professor at the University of New Hampshire where she teaches introductory archaeology courses and is the coordinator for the Native American and Indigenous Studies minor.

About Strawbery Banke Archaeology: 
Strawbery Banke Museum is an outdoor living history museum located in historic Portsmouth, NH. Strawbery Banke archaeologists have conducted some of the largest urban archaeology projects in New Hampshire. Previous excavations at Strawbery Banke have revealed information on domestic life, immigration, building traditions, pottery manufacture, and other industries, and have demonstrated that Portsmouth is one of the richest sites for historical archaeology in northern New England.