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Excavation by SOULA at Britt Gardens site

SOU Laboratory of Anthropology receives grant to complete Britt project

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology has received a grant of about $15,000 from a division of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to analyze and report on artifacts unearthed during 2010-11 digs at Jacksonville’s Peter Britt Gardens.

Britt GardensThe excavations by SOULA were conducted as the city of Jacksonville prepared for a restoration project on the 4.5-acre Britt Gardens site. But funding dried up and the archeological findings were never fully studied to develop a detailed picture of life at the 1800s homestead.

“We are thrilled to receive the Preserving Oregon grant,” said Chelsea Rose, a research archeologist with SOULA. “The Britt Gardens Site is one of the most important archaeological resources in southern Oregon, and this funding will allow us to analyze and interpret the thousands of artifacts from the Britt homestead and share our findings about this fascinating family with the local community, tourists and interested scholars.”

The grant is one of 18 that were awarded this summer by the state parks’ Oregon Heritage division for historic and archeological projects throughout Oregon. Each was approved by the state Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation.

Peter Britt historical photo

Peter Britt

About 30,000 artifacts were recovered during the excavations nine years ago. Britt – an early Rogue Valley settler – was a painter, photographer and horticulturist whose photos of Crater Lake were instrumental in creation of the national park in 1902. The SOULA excavations included the site where Britt built a log cabin upon reaching Jacksonville in 1852.

“Everyone always asks archaeologists what our favorite find is,” Rose said. “Mine came from the Britt Gardens Site – two glass plate photograph negatives with images on them.

“This grant finally gives us the opportunity to tell the story of these artifacts, and hundreds of others, and what they can reveal about the lives of the Britt family and their experience in 19th century Jacksonville.”

The grant will pay for artifact analysis, site mapping, illustration and photography of the excavation project, and compilation of a detailed report on archeological findings. SOULA is also working with the university’s Hannon Library to create a digital artifact collection that will feature more than 100 artifacts from the Britt site.

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