Archaeology Field School

excavating at the Hatch homestead site

Hands-on original research & learning

DRA’s Archaeology Field School provides a unique opportunity for laypeople and students to make an important contribution through participation in a professional dig. Students will attain the fundamental principles and rigors of archaeological fieldwork. College participants in past years have made arrangements with their professors or advisors to obtain college credit.The program also benefits teachers who require recertification credits.

This year’s archaeology team will be excavating at the Elisha Hatch (1769-1803) Homestead site located off River Road in Newcastle. See below for details about the site and plans for excavation.

Two partial scholarships are available to qualifying teachers and students through the Helen Gurland Scholarship Fund. Call DRA at 207-563-1393 for additional information.

Participants are encouraged to sign up early, as there is a maximum of twelve participants per session.

2018 Schedule and Rates

Session I: July 8 – July 13, 2018
Session II: July 15 – July 20, 2018
Session III: July 22 – July 27, 2018

Sign up for more than one session and receive discounted rates.
One session: $350 / $325 for DRA members
Two sessions: $550 / $500 for DRA members
Three sessions: $800 / $725 for DRA members


NEW: Online registration ONLY through CampDoc registration services. If you have registration questions, contact the CampDoc Help Desk at 734-636-1000, Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm EST or


Participants are required to register prior to attending the field school. The minimum age to attend is 14. Past field school sessions have included a mix of high school age students, college students, and retirees who have always wanted to participate in a professional archaeological dig. Experience among participants in past years has ranged from first timers, to seasoned excavators, to up and coming archaeologists.

For additional information on the field school please contact DRA at (207) 563-1393. 

Join the fun, help contribute to an important chapter in the maritime history of the Damariscotta River region, and learn the rigors and fundamental principles of archaeology in midcoast Maine!

About the 2018 excavation plans

Damariscotta River Association’s (DRA’s) 2018 Archaeology Field School is returning to the Elisha Hatch Homestead site (1769-1803) located off River Road in Newcastle. The site marks the third and final leg of historical archaeologist Tim Dinsmore’s investigation into the 18th-century Barstow-Bryant shipbuilding complex, which began in 1980. Dinsmore is directing field school participants in the partial excavation of the Hatch Homestead site with the aim of continuing to define the structural layout of the site.

Hatch carried out the smithy work for shipwright George Barstow (Hale site), and presumably for contemporary shipwright Nathaniel Bryant (Bryant-Barker Tavern site) during the mid-1760s to 1772. Soon after, the Hatch homestead and property was acquired by yeoman James Givens – kin to David Givens of Sheepscot and Robert Givens of Pemaquid Falls – and by 1790 was occupied by Nathaniel Bryant’s son, Nathaniel.

Nathaniel Bryant II resumed building wooden sailing vessels at his father’s yard prior to relocating his operations to the Damariscotta Mills in 1803. Thus the Hatch site was occupied by a blacksmith, yeoman and shipwright during its relatively brief existence. What became of the homestead shortly thereafter is unclear though archaeological evidence indicates that that its demise soon followed.

The Hatch site, located atop the riverbank on the Damariscotta River and overlooking what would have been the shipyard, has remained untouched since last occupied in 1803. As such it represents a time capsule for which to study the early maritime history of the Damariscotta region. Archaeological priorities at the Hatch site include determining the layout and orientation of the homestead as well as locating blacksmithing activities including Hatch’s blacksmith shop.

Photo Gallery: Excavating at the Hatch Homestead site

Click on any image for a larger view.


Here’s what past field school participants have said about the DRA Archaeology Field School:

Shawn Joy, 32, of Worcester, Massachusetts, who is pursuing graduate work in nautical archaeology writes:

“As an older college student, seeking a future in this type of work, it was essential to me to be able to get this kind of fieldwork under my belt,” said Joy. “This particular dig project is important as it holds the homestead sites of two of the first shipwrights to the Damariscotta region.”

Dr. Jane Coryell, 73, of Augusta has participated in the field school sessions for 15 years. She writes:

“This work is interesting and fun,” said Coryell. “Tim is very knowledgeable, and I get to know lots of interesting people.”

Coryell also enjoys helping Tim put all of the pieces together, processing found artifacts off-season.

Mona Whittaker, 53, a medical transcriber from Nobleboro, Maine has participated since 1997.

“Archaeology has always been fascinating to me,” said Whittaker. “You are finding artifacts that link you to the past and bring things that happened 200+ years ago to life.”

About Archaeologist Tim Dinsmore

Historical Archaeologist and Project Director Tim DinsmoreHistorical Archaeologist Tim Dinsmore received a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Maine at Orono, with a specialization in archaeology, and attended the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia for graduate work. Tim has thirty years of experience in archaeological research and cultural research management (CRM). He is a level 1 Certified Professional Historical Archaeologist with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission (MHPC). He has conducted all levels of archaeological research in Maine and also has experience working in Jamaica, West Indies.

Tim’s primary research focus has been the Barstow & Bryant Shipbuilding Complex along the upper Damariscotta River in Newcastle, consisting of the Barstow Homestead site (a.k.a. Hale site), Bryant Homestead site (a.k.a. Bryant-Barker Tavern site), and Hatch Homestead site (a.k.a. Hatch site), respectively. This shipbuilding complex marks the birthplace of the shipbuilding industry along the upper Damariscotta River in midcoast Maine. Tim’s research is focused on determining the relative success of these shipwrights and blacksmith and whether their success can be determined based upon the material culture (artifacts) found in the archaeological record. Tim argues in his research that while shipbuilders could attain a comfortable livelihood they relied on secondary occupations or trades to ensure financial stability.