Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History No. 15
by Donald A. Harris
When the author arrived on site, a great deal of the cleaning of the gun platform had been completed and cleaning of the first level had begun. Until contractual arrangements had been made, the author could only observe the cleaning process and investigate areas of particular structural interest.
This Martello tower had been the home of innumerable generations of pigeons and bats and their dung and deceased along with fallen brick, masonry, wooden mouldings constituted the fill inside the tower. The weight of this debris and the subsequent deterioration which the tower underwent after it was designated obsolete brought about the collapse of the second-level wooden floor. This in turn caused the partial collapse of the ground floor into the air space below. After this collapse the wood of the floor continued to rot and the overlying detritus filtered down into the bottommost air space and in time the whole became an undifferentiated mass. Over the period of deposition the accumulated rotten wood and guano had broken down into a fine powdery dust which created considerable problems during its removal. As a consequence these factors made the employment of traditional excavation techniques impractical, and excavation consisted primarily of careful removal of the fill and recording of the features that remained in situ, mainly floor joists and flooring.
The operation-lot system used by the National Historic Parks and Sites Branch was employed on this site. The tower proper was given the code number 16H and each of the floors and their respective rooms were given related provenience numbers. All artifacts recovered were recorded as to these proveniences except those which were found prior to the arrival of the archaeologist on site; these were given a general provenience number.
The following discussion details the excavations conducted on the site, and begins with the ground floor. Only the windows, boiler, top of the magazine and the floor area above the No. 2 ordnance store required any excavation on the second level, and on the third level only the latrines were cleaned. As mentioned previously the rest of the third level had been cleaned prior to the arrival of the archaeologist.
The Ground Floor
The ground floor of the tower (Fig. 5) was divided into five rooms or stores. These were all connected by a corridor to a set of stairs that led up to the second or main level of the tower. In the exterior wall of the commissariat stores there was an arched chamber, but the function of this feature is still uncertain. These rooms as seen in Figure 2 were the No. 1 ordnance store, the No. 2 ordnance store, the magazine, the barracks stores and the commissariat stores. The two other structural features recorded on this level were two windows that opened onto the corridor from the magazine. Centrally located in the tower was the main support pillar for the entire structure.
The tower was circular in shape and the interior rooms on both the ground and second-floor levels were more or less wedge-shaped with the exception of the powder magazine which was rectangular.
The basic platform upon which the tower was constructed was composed of undressed limestone set in mortar radiating out from the centre of the tower. This floor was unevenly levelled and never intended as a working area. Above it and separated by an air space of 7 in. were the floor joists upon which the flooring was laid.
Along the inner perimeter of the exterior wall the floor joists rested on a ledge and butted directly against the inner face of the wall. This ledge, shown in Figure 6, had a double step in it. The joists keyed to the topmost step and rested on a wooden nailer laid along the bottommost step. This nailer, though broken in spots to allow for partitions, continued around the entire perimeter of the interior face of the wall. The ledge was cut from limestone set in the base of the wall. This stonework continued up the face of the wall from the stone floor approximately 2.15 ft., or to the top of the floor joists. At this point the stone was discontinued and the facing material was changed to brick. The first course was a header course and the second, third and fourth courses were stretcher courses succeeded by another header course.
All of the floor joists on the ground floor were laid on an east-west axis, parallel to each other in all rooms. These joists measured approximately 4 in. by 12 in. Approximation of measurement was made necessary as a consequence of the deterioration and shrinkage that these structural members had undergone. In the various drawings included with this report detailed dimensions are provided.
The connecting corridor between the various rooms on the ground level was basically Y-shaped. The stem of the Y was the stairwell to the second level. The eastern arm led to the No. 1 ordnance store and the western arm led to the commissariat and barracks stores. This western arm had a dog-leg section as shown in Figure 5.
Of the seven original floor joists that were laid in the corridor, only remnants of six remained. These joists were in a very deteriorated state and several crumbled into dust during excavation. The joists had butted into recesses about 7.5 in. deep in the masonry partitions of the corridor. Beneath the joist the masonry had been slotted for a nailer which still remained in place. This nailer was approximately 3 in. by 4 in. and was recessed into the masonry beneath the joist. Above the joist and at the top on the stone masonry was a small ledge 7.5 in. wide on which the floor rested. At this same level the brick corridor partition was begun. This partition was the width of one brick length. The bricks were laid in the same fashion as those in the interior face of the other wall; that is, one header course for every three stretcher courses. In the main area of the Y of the corridor there was no flooring present on the remaining floor joists.
Turning west off the main line of the corridor was a short extension which connected the barracks stores with the rest of the ground level. This extension also enabled the personnel of the tower to close off the commissary from the rest of the ground level without closing the barracks stores.
There were three floor joists in this extension area which were continuations of the floor joists in the main part of the corridor. These joists were fixed in slots in the western partition wall of the corridor extension. The slots continued all the way through the stone masonry into the small alcove of the commissary, but the joists were not continuous, stopping at the partition wall. Above the joists was a small ledge 1 in. to 2 in. in width upon which rested the floor.
There were some remnants of the floor still in place on the joists, but these were very fragmentary. Also in place were cast iron bands which had held the floor in position. These perimeter bands which were found throughout the entire structure were screwed into place and it was surmised that they acted to prevent the floor from shifting or warping during times of action. Figure 7 is a cross-section of this band, which was trapezoidal in shape with a bevel on the upper side. That they were produced specifically for this building is certain, because all of the corner angles and curves are cast to fit.
At the eastern end of this extension or at the edge of the arm of the Y was a diagonal strip of stone masonry. This piece of masonry acted as the sill to the doorway leading into the commissary and as the base of the brick partition. In this instance the construction parallels that which was used in the eastern arm of the Y and it became a support for the floor joists which ran into the extension. Along both sides of this strip were nailers, and the segment of the masonry near the commissary was slotted to receive the northernmost joist in the corridor extension.
No. 1 Ordnance Store
The eastern arm of the corridor provided access to the No. 1 ordnance store (Fig. 5). This room was a truncated wedge-shaped space directly beneath the main entrance to the tower. It was assumed from the large number of grape shot found in the northern corner of the room that it was primarily used for the storage of shot. Prior to excavation, the room was filled to a level of approximately 5 ft. with debris and it was the first room to be cleared. The reason for this was the need for a work space for the clearing of the remainder of the tower.
The stone floor conformed to that already described as did the interior face of the exterior wall. Again the floor joists were laid parallel on an east-west axis and 14 joists were employed. This wooden floor (Fig. 8) and the floor inside the barracks stores had suffered most from the effects of the elements. Both of these floors had been exposed to moisture which combined with the effects of the dung had brought about a severe state of deterioration.
The 10 remaining joists extended about halfway into the room and still retained some flooring. There were several planks of sub-flooring remaining and evidence of what might have been finished flooring. This was very fragmentary and no finishing nails for retaining such a floor were found. It may be that evidence which was construed as being finished flooring was nothing more than remnants of planking from the second level that had fallen onto the floor and adhered to that floor in the process of decay.
The joist support for the exterior wall has already been described; Figure 9 is a detail of the system used to support the joists that butted against the interior partition walls. This detail conforms to the system used throughout the interior of the tower on the ground level. In this instance the joists were inserted into slots in the stone masonry, but bore directly on a nailer which rested on a ledge below them in the same masonry. The distance between the bottom of the joist and the stone floor below was approximately 11 in. The floor planks on the top of these joists were approximately 1-7/8 in. by 10-1/2 in., but this size was not consistent throughout the structure.
The door sill of the entrance to the No. 1 ordnance store was wooden and rested directly upon the stone masonry that formed the base of the entire superstructure. In this case, as can be seen in Figure 10, the floor joists rested on their wooden nailer, but above them another wooden member 4 in. by 6-1/4 in. had been inserted between the stonework and the brick partition. To this member the flooring was attached. Adjacent to the entrance of the room was the doorway to the No. 2 ordnance store.
No. 2 Ordnance Store
The No. 2 ordnance store was a small brick-vaulted room through which personnel had to pass to get to the magazine and was, in fact, the only access to the magazine. Entrance was achieved through a door in the north partition wall of the room. The floor structure of this room was in better repair than in any of the other rooms in the tower. The floor joists were intact and in place, and some of the flooring still remained on the joists as shown in Figures 5 and 11. The brick partitions forming the walls for this ordnance room were 1 ft. 11-3/8 in. thick and the bricks were laid in the same manner as described previously. The air space below the joists was 9-1/2 in. The remaining flooring was laid on a north-south axis and had a thickness that varied from 1-3/4 in. to 1-7/8 in. The widths and lengths of these planks varied.
The doorway to the room (Figs. 12 and 13) had a sill similar to that found in the No. 1 ordnance store in that on each side of the stone and mortar masonry sill were two wooden members that were recessed into the brick partition wall and to which the planking of the floor was attached. When excavated the flooring was still in place on the sill and held there by bevelled iron straps.
The joists themselves were butted against the interior face of the exterior wall in the same manner as discussed under the general comments concerning the ground level. Their opposite ends were butted into the slotted interior partition as in the No. 2 ordnance store. The distance between the joists ranged from 9-7/8 in. to 1 ft. 1-1/2 in.
The ceiling above this room was of arched brick construction, although most of it had collapsed probably as the result of meltwater and rain leaching out the lime which bound the mortar between the bricks. This arch, which will be discussed in more detail later, curved from east to west in a direction opposite to the arch of the magazine, which was entirely intact. The doorway to the magazine was in the west wall of this room.
The Powder Magazine
Because of the dangerous aspects of the powder magazine special attention was paid to its construction. The following description of its construction and usage is quoted here:
This account of the powder magazine (Fig. 5) was substantiated by the excavations of that room. It was impossible, however, to make any observations concerning the floor as this had been destroyed almost completely during a fire at some time in the past. The brick walls and the overhead vault were still intact and it was possible to locate the positions of the floor joists from the slots in the masonry (Fig. 14). It may be assumed that the flooring was held in place by wooden pegs because of the small amount of debris found in the room. This assumption was based more on negative evidence than anything else, because there were very few nails found on the stone floor and none that could be directly associated with the wooden flooring. As might be supposed this was also the only room in which no iron floor batten was found. As to there being no iron work in the room, it should be stated that the wall racks were held in place by iron wall anchors.
Lavell's description of the window arrangement was correct as well. As can be seen in Figures 15 and 16 these two windows were both inset in the magazine wall and they were glazed with double panes. Excavation of the window sills provided examples of cast plate glass 15/64 in. thick. The window surrounds were also sheathed in copper and the hardware was cast brass. Both windows were hinged on the corridor side, but the framing was screwed into place with copper screws on the magazine side. These windows were approximately 2 ft. square and they were set on granite sills.
The entrance to the magazine was also double-doored as described by Lavell, although the doors were missing. There were still remnants of the framing remaining and these too were copper sheathed. The distance between the two doors was only 22-3/8 in., not giving a man much room to manoeuvre. The sill itself was composed of a mortar masonry core with two wooden members, one on each side of the sill. This sill (Figs. 17 and 18) was different from the other door sills in structure, but the structural significance of this difference is as yet unknown.
The barracks store lay to the east of the magazine and was identical in plan to that of the No. 2 ordnance store. It had, however, been exposed to the elements to a greater extent, and the joists were in an extremely deteriorated state. These crumbled to the touch and a great deal of caution had to be exercised in the excavation of the room. Figures 5 and 19 present this room in plan and as it was photographed after excavation. As can be seen the floor joist support system was the same as that found in the rest of the building.
The only access to this room was through a door in the northern partition wall. The sill in this instance still had remnants of flooring and the wooden sill members remained in place. It was constructed somewhat differently from that of the other sills in the building in that there was one wooden member down the centre of the sill and one on the room side of the sill. On either side of the sill were floor joists. This detail is illustrated in Figures 20 and 21. Also in place was the iron strap batten that held the flooring in position.
Situated in the northwest quadrant of the tower was the commissariat stores. This room was basically wedge-shaped as was the No. 1 ordnance store with the exception of the corridor extension which led to the barracks store. This extension created a small alcove in the western corner of the room as can be seen in Figures 5, 22, and 23.
The joists and flooring, relatively intact and in place, had partially collapsed into the air space below. Like the No. l ordnance store this room had 14 joists, and the nailer around the perimeter of the room, which was absent in the ordnance store, was still resting on its ledge. This nailer was spliced in several places with a simple scarf joint as shown in Figure 24, and the joists were connected to the nailer with a half lap joint. The joists that ran through the small alcove did not continue into the corridor, but butted against the corridor's joists. These shorter joists measured approximately 5 ft. in length.
The sub-floor planking was still in place and there was some evidence of finish flooring on top of this. The iron batten was also in place.
Built into the exterior wall of the commissariat store room was a feature which was first thought to have been a firebox or oven of some sort, but excavation has almost eliminated this possibility. Currently it is believed to have been some sort of storage facility such as a pantry for butter and meats. The reasons for discarding the assumption that this was a firebox are several: first, what was thought to have been a flue later proved to have been the drain from the latrine on the third level; second, there were no facilities for a grate or ash removal; third, the walls of the feature showed no evidence of carbon, and fourth, the majority of all food bones were found here.
This pantry, if such it was, is shown in Figures 25, 26 and 27, and the entire feature gives the impression of having been added at a later date, as demonstrated by the quality and nature of the brickwork around the opening. The top of this opening was arched brick which continued to the rear of the pantry; however, the side walls were poorly dressed limestone and the rear wall was a combination of this type of limestone and rubble. A 9-in. cast iron pipe from the latrines on the terreplein passed through the pantry to the water approximately 15 ft. below. This pipe had been shattered at some time after the tower's abandonment, because no fecal or organic matter was found around the opening of the shattered pipe.
The Second Level
The second level (Fig. 2) was the main or barracks level of the tower, whereas the ground level was the storage level. This second level had at one time contained the entrance foyer, the officer's quarters and the soldiers barracks. Also situated on this level were three windows for the placement of 32-pounder carronades, a boiler for heating water and a hand pump for bringing water up from below. Leading from this level on the southern side of the tower were the stairs to the third level.
At the time of excavation little remained of this level that could be recorded, and for the most part the wooden floors had collapsed onto the ground level. The exceptions were the brick arch of the magazine which was still sound and a remnant of the brick arch that had once been the ceiling of the No. 2 ordnance store. The window sills were still intact, but their floorings had suffered considerably from the effects of weathering. Only one of these was successfully excavated, it being the one nearest the entrance.
The Roof of the Magazine
This feature (Fig. 28) was the most important in terms of preservation, because the vault was still sound and much of the floor that had rested atop it remained.
The floor joists in this area ran parallel to those on the ground level, in an east-west direction. These joists were not of the same dimensions as those found below and they had been hewn to fit the curvature of the vault. Another notable feature of the joists was that many of them had been drilled for 1-1/2 in. holes spaced about 7-1/2 in. apart. This spacing, however, was not consistent. The function these holes served was not determined, but it was reasonably certain that they were not drilled to hold pegs for retaining the floor: the extensive use of nails and the lack of any dowels precluded that assumption. The joists (Fig. 28) did not extend out over the barracks stores or over the No. 2 ordnance store. but butted the separate joists that did. This arrangement was noted in two instances and was further substantiated by the occurrence of double nailers on each side of the magazine walls (Figs. 29, 30).
Atop the floor joists were remnants of the sub-flooring and some evidence was found to support the hypothesis that this level had a finished floor. Curved sections of the iron floor batten were also found in place along the perimeter of the wall.
The Officer's Quarters
The only other area of the second level that remained at least partially intact was that which had rested atop the brick vault above the No. 2 ordnance store. This vault differed from that of the magazine in that it curved in an opposite direction, that is, east and west. In this case the floor joists were also cut to receive the curve of the vault, and in those areas where the curve exceeded the thickness of the joist, brick pads were used beneath the unsupported portions of the joist (Fig. 31). This vault was in very poor condition and a great deal of it had already collapsed into the room below. The support system is shown in Figure 32.
The officer's quarters was a wedge-shaped room in the fourth quadrant of the tower and centred on the first window east of the entrance. The exact location of this room could be ascertained by several features. First, four of the corner iron floor batten brackets were found in place. Figure 33 shows the two that lay on either side of the northern partition of the room. The other two were found at their locations where the wall partitions neared the centre of the structure. Second, there still remained discolourations on the ceiling caused by the wall partitions and third, the position of the stove pipe hole. All of this confirms the officer's quarters layout as presented in Figure 2.
The points at which the joists butted the interior face of the exterior wall of the tower differed from those which were found on the ground level. In this instance the brick work was slotted to receive the joists, This circumstance occurred around the entire perimeter of the wall. A 5-7/8 in. ledge had also been cut in the central stone column to receive the joists which intersected it. The last three joists on the eastern side of the column were continuous, extending from the outer wall to the column. Because of the state of collapse and deterioration, it was impossible to determine this relationship on the western side of the column.
The room on the western side of the column, the barracks store, was not vaulted and all of the joists had collapsed to the ground level. Since this room did not have a vault, it was difficult to determine the joist support system. It was assumed that the joists spanned the distance between the outer wall and the western wall of the magazine and were supported only at their ends by the aforementioned walls. There was no evidence of a nailer or wooden load-bearing member anywhere along the outer wall perimeter.
The rest of the floor that had constituted the soldiers' barracks had collapsed to the ground floor. Some artifacts, mostly hardware, could be attributed to this level.
Second Level Windows
There were three windows on the second level and Figure 34 is a photograph of one of these prior to excavation. These windows were large enough to house a 32-pounder carronade and closed with a double shutter arrangement. The outer shutter (Fig. 35) was made of sheet iron and hinged to the outer side of the tower wall, and each of the shutter leaves had a small rectangular opening. Behind this was a wooden shutter which opened inward. Most of these shutter leaves were present inside the tower, but for the most part the jambs had become separated from the wall and had collapsed inward.
Only the first window east of the entrance was excavated completely because the ground was frozen in the windows and excavation destroyed more structural data than it provided. Figure 36 is a diagram of this window and how the floor joists were laid. One notable feature of the second and fourth joists was that they had been cut and bevelled. The reason for this is unknown but these notches may bear some relation to the types of gun carriages used for the carronades. Attempts were made to excavate the other windows, but these attempts were discontinued when frozen debris was encountered. During these excavations no other floor joists were uncovered. There was also no evidence of flooring found in the window, but the iron floor batten found throughout the rest of the site was in place below the opening of the window. The interior of the window was faced with cut stones which were used to tie the window into the facing brick of the interior wall surface. The use of dressed masonry around doorways, windows and vents in the brick face of the interior of the exterior wall predominated through out the structure.
On the second level between the second and third windows was the tower's boiler and evidence of its firebox (Fig. 37). This feature was cast iron and was described in the following manner by Lavell (1936: 174):
The Market Shoal tower differed from this general description in that it had only one cauldron. A large pipe led into the wall from this cauldron but no outlets were noted.
The Hand Pump
The niche for the hand pump was located immediately to the west of the entrance. The pump itself was absent, but the plumbing was still in place. The source of water for this pump is uncertain because the planned cistern shown in Figure 2 was apparently not built. It is probable that the pump connected directly to the river, but, again, this is conjecture.
Third Level Stairwell
This set of stairs was on the southern side of the tower at its thickest part, 15 ft. It exited between the southwestern and southeastern 32-pounders on the gun platform. The entrance on the second level did not have a hinged closure, but the exit on the third level did and this was held in place by a very large latch hook. The stairs were cut limestone.
The Third Level
The third level was the action level or gun platform. On this level on rotating barbette carriages were three 32-pounders overlooking the harbour. Covering the gun platform was a wooden roof that could be cleared away in time of action. This platform is currently covered by a recently added wooden roof.
At the time of excavation the gun platform had already been cleaned of the dung that had covered it and of course contained none of the other debris found in the lower levels. The only areas investigated on this level were the two latrines that were recessed into the southwestern parapet wall.
The two latrines were located side by side and were identical in almost all respects. The fill in the latrine area was undifferentiated pigeon dung and no stratigraphy was apparent. The latrines were separated by a brick-filled wooden partition and the lumber used to cover the brick work was hand beaded. The toilets themselves were sunk below the floor level of the gun platform and were approached by three steps that led down from that level. The toilets consisted of wooden seats placed above a cast iron bowl (Fig. 38) that funnelled the waste into a central pipe that dropped to the water underneath the tower. This pipe was the one mentioned in the discussion of the pantry. Fragments of the toilet seat for the southernmost toilet were found, but none for the other latrine were recovered. Both latrine openings had doors, although the door of the northern latrine had been torn from its hinges. The other door was in place and can be seen in Figure 39. This door was held closed by a thumb latch and had a small sliding wooden window cover over the window (Fig. 40). The doors themselves were curved to match the curvature of the parapet wall.