The Grave Tale of the Riddle Site

Ontario Archaeological Society Symposium 2006
Andrea Carnevale (ASI.), Katherine Hull (ASI.), Suzanne Needs-Howarth (Zooarchaeological consultant), Eva MacDonald (ASI)

This paper outlines the study process and analysis of a unique historic site documented in Markham
Township. It was anticipated that the Stage 4 excavation of the Riddle site (AlGt-486), which was visible in the ploughzone as a 40 x 40 meter scatter of mid-nineteenth century domestic artifacts, would reveal the cultural features of an Irish tenant’s homelot. Instead, after the topsoil was stripped away, the settlement pattern comprised 11 articulated domestic large mammal skeletons and numerous post moulds, indicating the extended use of the site as an animal burial ground. This paper will discuss the health and safety issues raised by this discovery, as well as the biomedical, historical and cultural processes that may have been involved in the formation of this unusual site.