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Maine Memory Network

Popham Colony Artifacts

This Exhibit Contains 9 Items
1
Champlain's Map, Phippsburg and Georgetown, ca. 1605

Champlain's Map, Phippsburg and Georgetown, ca. 1605

Item 61122 info
Maine State Museum

Research and descriptions by Maine's First Ship students from Morse High School

Samuel de Champlain, an explorer and master cartographer from France, explored the Kennebec with a group of men in 1605. The map he drew shows the areas of Phippsburg and Georgetown at the mouth of the Kennebec River.

He and his men were the first Europeans to set foot on the Kennebec. Champlain made a very detailed map of the "Quinibequy" (Kennebec) because he thought that the area would be suitable for colonization.

Sabino Head, the location of Fort St. George, which was built by the first English colonists in 1607, is just below the "E" on this map.


2
Post fragment, Popham Colony, ca. 1607

Post fragment, Popham Colony, ca. 1607

Item 61121 info
Maine State Museum

The largest pieces of preserved wood from the 1607 Popham Colony were the bottoms of the posts that supported the structures the colonists built.

The top of the stubs were often charred by fire that destroyed the buildings.

Enough of some posts remain to determine that they had been hewn to a roughly square or rectangular cross section. The bottoms were sawn flat.

The posts from the sidewalls of the storehouse were pitch pine. A ridgepole post from the north gable end was spruce.


3
Recreated bellarmine jug, Popham Colony, ca. 1600

Recreated bellarmine jug, Popham Colony, ca. 1600

Item 55345 info
Maine State Museum

A bellarmine was a type of jug that the used for shipping, storage, and serving before glass bottles were made available in the 17th century. They were usually gray. The outer surface, and sometimes the inner surface, was salt-glazed. Molded medallions were put on the body, and human faces were put on the necks.

There were 213 shards of bellarmine found at the Popham colony. The majority of the shards (63 percent) were found at the vice admiral’s house, 13 percent at the admiral’s house, 11 percent at the buttery, 6 percent at the storehouse, and 7 percent elsewhere. Some shards that were found together were placed on a modern reproduction of a bellarmine.

Some shards found at the Popham Colony were pieced together to form this jug.


4
Cabasset cheek piece from Popham Colony, Phippsburg, ca. 1607-1608

Cabasset cheek piece from Popham Colony, Phippsburg, ca. 1607-1608

Item 55347 info
Maine State Museum

Ninety five percent of the fragments of iron or steel found at the Popham Colony were identified as armor. A helmet cheek piece was found along with a buckle that was most likely part of a military harness.

Most of the pieces of armor were found on the storehouse floor, mostly in the south-eastern corner. Ten pieces were found at the Admiral’s house, 15 were in the vicinity of the vice admiral’s house.

Only one piece was found in the buttery, which is a closely guarded building used for storage for the butts or casks of spiritous liquors.


5
Bouteille Glass Bottle, Popham Colony, ca. 1607

Bouteille Glass Bottle, Popham Colony, ca. 1607

Item 55348 info
Maine State Museum

A nearly complete, but fragmentary bottle was recovered from one of the buttery postholes from the Popham Colony. This bottle has been reconstructed from the fragments.

It has a distinctive blue-green color and was flattened so that it has an oval cross section. The neck is not ribbed and the rim is unfinished, which means it was left the same way that it was when it was cut off the pontil.

Although the neck was 2 mm thick, the body of the bottle was only 1 mm thick. It was likely that such a delicate bottle was covered and protected by a wicker covering.

Fragments of wicker have been found with pieces of what appear to be very similar bottles at a 17th century site in France.


6
Caulking Iron, Popham Colony, ca. 1607

Caulking Iron, Popham Colony, ca. 1607

Item 55349 info
Maine State Museum

A small caulking iron was found on the floor of the storehouse at the Popham Colony.

Caulking irons were used to put caulking between the planks of a ship in order to make it water tight. This is the most tangible evidence of the pinnace, Virginia, which was built at the Popham Colony.

The caulking iron is badly rusted, but kept enough of its shape so it would be recognizable. It is 13 cm. long and 5 cm wide.


7
Clay Tobacco Pipe, Popham Colony, ca. 1607

Clay Tobacco Pipe, Popham Colony, ca. 1607

Item 61116 info
Maine State Museum

There were 743 fragments of clay tobacco pipes found at the Popham site in Phippsburg. Of the 743 fragments, 256 of them date to the 17th century. The rest of them are from the 18th and 19th centuries.

All but three of the pipes were made in Europe out of kaolin clay. The other three post-date Fort St. George and are an entirely different type.


8
Roves, Popham Colony, ca. 1607

Roves, Popham Colony, ca. 1607

Item 61117 info
Maine State Museum

Roves were metal pieces used like washers. They were used in shipbuilding and together with the caulking iron are reminders of the success of the Popham Colony in construction of the pinnace, Virginia.

They were commonly found in the central part of the Popham Colony's storehouse.


9
Shilling coin, Popham Colony, ca. 1607

Shilling coin, Popham Colony, ca. 1607

Item 55350 info
Maine State Museum

This silver shilling was minted between 1592 and 1595 in England and shows Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth. It was found at the 1607 Popham Colony site in what is today Phippsburg during a June 2010 excavation. The shilling may be the second oldest coin ever found in Maine.

On the reverse is a bead circle and a plain square with the top shield quartered with the arms of France and England, over a long cross with: Posvi de adivtorem mev (translation: I have made God my helper).


This Exhibit Contains 9 Items