Archaeology at the Officer’s Cookhouse

Animal food bone waste found archaeologically at the Officer's Cookhouse at Fort Willow

Sample of food bone remains found near the Officer’s Cookhouse

Researcher: Will Murphy, Grade 11

The location for the Officer’s kitchen was determined by archaeologist Wilfred Jury during his 1959 excavations at the site. Student excavationds in 2005 and 2006 confirmed the possibility of the cookhouse’s location close to where Jury had suggested.

As a cooking area for the officers, one would expect to find a lot of food bone waste. A total of 896 bones and bone fragments from 44 different animals were found in the officer’s cookhouse, most of which belonged to mammals (domesticated cows, pigs, and goats/sheep), with several species of birds (mostly ducks) and fish represented. This shows that while most of the soldiers’ meat was brought in to the site as domesticated animal meat, the soldiers also took advantage of local hunting and fishing when they could. Some of the animal bones display evidence of saw marks from when they were butchered. Other bones show scrape marks from the dinner time scraping of forks and knives. The waste bones from dinner also had occasional “nibble” marks from rodents, hinting at the other animal pests that shared living space with the soldiers.

Although some fine tableware ceramics were found, there were also many thicker, coarser ceramics used for mixing and baking, which one expect from a building where cooking is taking place.


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