* Insert sounds of crickets here, followed by the lonely howls of a wolf, because there's not much more to Dutton than Route 198 and some pine trees, which by the way also describes the rest of Mathews County, give or take a few convenience stores and several thriving herds of killer fiddler crabs.
The front-page article begins:
Tucked away in the northwest corner of Mathews County, an archaeological gem is being uncovered that is of great historical significance to Gloucester County history, the region’s colonial period and much more.
Hmmm. I imagine it's also significant to Mathews County, no? For now we're not talking about the fact that Mathews was once part of Gloucester, and this site has to do with Gloucester Court House. We're merely talking about how if something of significance is happening in the northwest part of Mathews County--that was once Gloucester County--and a train leaves Gloucester County traveling 30 miles per hour towards the Clayton archaeological dig in Dutton, does it technically wind up in Mathews County or Gloucester County, and how many of you wish you were flinging your bodies across those train tracks rather than going any further with this ADD-generated sentence?
"Archaeologists Bob and Lisa Harper, co-directors of the project, began an in-depth study of the site, which served as Gloucester County Clerk’s office between 1720 and 1773 under the direction of John Clayton. Pete and Barbara R., owners of the property, had questions about the archaeological potential of the property after finding exposed foundations in their yard."
If like most of the planet you're unfamiliar with John Clayton, don't worry. The only reason we around here recognize the name is because Rte. 14 is named for him, and some of us pass a historical marker
John Clayton: One and a half miles north is the site of his home “Windsor” where he developed an excellent Botanical Garden. He was first president, Virginia Society for the promotion of useful knowledge, and clerk of Gloucester County from 1722 until his death in 1772. His Herbarium Specimens, some still preserved in the British Museum, were the basis of “Flora Virginia,” compiled by Gronovius with the collaboration of Linnaeus and originally published at Leyden in 1739.
The Gazette article continues (and I'm paraphrasing):
The Harpers recently conducted a five-year-long dig of Clayton’s home, just a mile from the site of Old Office...Clayton, a botanist, stopped by the Old Office each day to check things over while his assistant clerk wrote most of the form manuscripts by hand daily.
...Harper said 17th century artifacts have been recovered from the site. Four are copper-alloy buckles, of English manufacture, and dated between 1630 and 1650 A.D. Another is an offset strap bar for a sword belt...
...According to Harper, the Old Office is one of the most significant archaeological sites in Virginia today. "When one considers that the Old Office is a multi-component site that encompasses the entire gamut of occupation, from pre-contact Native American to 1900 farmsteading, and with a public building site, it is without parallel in the Middle Peninsula for archaeological exploration," he said.
Harper said that an 18th century clerk’s office is so rare, that only two have ever been explored unaltered in the whole of Virginia archaeology. Both sites, he said, post-date Old Office by almost a century.
All this is going on right down the road in downtown Dutton?
Tell me anything you know about John Clayton, his memorial highway, botany or archaeology. Or, just tell me what your plans are for the weekend.