It was on the muddy road to Lunenburg from Halifax next to Lovett lake that 76 individuals, who had thrown in their support with the British between 1812 and 1816 were given freedom and land in Nova Scotia to start a new life. The community of Beechville would be called many things over its 170 years since the first settlers arrived. Its streets and community would go through many changes and some of its community left covered in moss in the woods and untouched for hundreds of years.
But it was a local story of Burnt Hill, that captivated Archaeologist that were exploring the area and trying to understand the rock foundations in Beechville. It wasn’t until the team started unearthing a site that helped them better understand why it was called Burnt hill. What they found was a home built on a stone foundation that seemed to have burned down very suddenly. This site was a time capsule of early Black refugees with over 2,000 artifacts now saved at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History. Plus the finding what would challenge historical and archaeologist was the Beechville mystery stone. This roofing tile that wasn’t used on the homes in Beechville, but seemed to outline a numeral journal for the settler who saved it. Which left the experts wondering what records they were keeping and why? For whatever reason this stone was kept, it was lost to the family in the fire.
During the Monthly meeting of the Nova Scotia Archaeology Society on February 25th, 2020. Rober Shears present on his research in Beechville called “Community, Archaeology & Black Refugees Beechville Nova Scotia as a Case Study.” During his presentation, he talked about the locations of remains of possible structures within the original land plots settled by 1st. Generation Black Refugees coming to Nova Scotia. Unlike Burnt Hill these archaeological features in Beechville seem to remain untouched to development or by the curious in over a hundred years. It’s this area of the community that will help to better understand the community and help solve the questions around the Beechville mystery stone.
The goal of archaeology research in Beechville is to understand how and why human behaviour has changed over time. Archaeologists search for patterns in the evolution of significant cultural events such as the development of commerce, the emergence of community, or the abandonment of homes for clues of why these events occurred. With each time an archaeologist or historian explores this rich historical community they are left with more questions than answers.