Excavation at Vance
The most recent archaeological excavation on Lot 11 took place during renovations of Battle, Vance, and Pettigrew Halls in 2011. Construction workers uncovered a deposit of broken pottery fragments and glassware while digging to replace a stormwater pipe in front of Vance Hall. Work was temporarily halted while an investigation was conducted in a 3-meter-by-3-meter area between the building and the adjacent brick walkway. This excavation revealed that the construction trench had cut through a nineteenth-century stone drain and a cellar pit.
The subsequent excavation of the still-intact portions of these archaeological features yielded significant information concerning antebellum Chapel Hill. In particular, a large quantity of kitchen and dining debris in the form of animal bone and ceramics was recovered. Both historical accounts and the faunal remains recovered from the Vance Hall excavation indicate that pigs were the most common animal consumed in antebellum Chapel Hill.
As a majority of the recovered pig bones were from lower legs, it is possible that the Lot 11 residents consumed not only ham and bacon but also meals that included prepared pig’s feet. Other domesticated animals, including cow, sheep or goat, chicken, and mallard, also were represented. Bones from wild animals included cottontail rabbit, opossum, squirrel, turkey, catfish, bullhead, seatrout, and oysters. These provide a sense both of the variety of animals that were being consumed and their availability.