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Nov 17, 2014 3:09 PM

Artifacts destroyed in dig for Strawbery Banke ice rink


PORTSMOUTH- The ground under Strawbery Banke is rich with Portsmouth's history, but a recent dig for a skating rink may have destroyed links to the 18th century.

Ellen Marlatt is principal of Independent Archaeological Consulting in Portsmouth. She says a number of valuable resources were damaged, including an early 1700's homestead and wharf.

Marlatt says those materials could have told the story of who lived there 300 years ago.

Strawbery Banke President and CEO Larry Yerdon has acknowledged the loss and says their archaeologist was able to salvage some artifacts.

"We did the best under those circumstances that could be done," Yerdon said.

There were last minute changes in the engineering of the project that required some extra digging in areas where there were artifacts. Marlatt says time constraint is no excuse. Yerdon says they had to make a judgment call.

"So that's what we did. We did the very best and I don't think we did a bad job, I think we did a good job," Yerdon said.

Marlatt said, "They're one of the initial pioneers of historic preservation. To see that they're dropping their standards is really heart-breaking."

The rink will be called Puddle Dock Pond, an homage to the historic waterway that once flowed under what is now Strawbery Banke.

Yerdon says the project is another example of their commitment to the community and its history.

Marlatt says she and her colleagues hope there's lesson to take away from this.

"We can't get back what we had but it doesn't need to happen again," Marlatt said.


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