Rum distilling in New England the excavation of the Pierce Distillery

Suzanne Cherau, Senior Archaeologist at the Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc., will discuss the excavation of the Pierce Distillery archaeology site and the history of rum distilling in New England. Cherau was a principal excavator for the site and graciously makes herself available for questions about this important part of the history of Bristol, RI.

Monday, September 28th 7 PM  

This presentation is free and open to the public but participants must register in advance.  Please contact the Society at 253-7223 for more information.

In 2007, an archaeological dig at the corner of State St. and Thames St. uncovered wooden vats that were part of “The Distillery”, a partnership of Bristol merchants headed by the distiller Jarvis Pierce. These round and rectangular vats held a mixture of molasses and water that once fermented was pumped into large copper pots, heated, and distilled into finished rum. While some of the rum was transferred into casks or “hogsheads” for local consumption, most was shipped to Africa where it was traded for slaves. A rare find, the Pierce Distillery archaeology site reveals how rum was produced in massive quantities in order to feed the cycle of African enslavement.

A graduate of Georgetown University and of the Universite de Dijon-Bourgogne in France, Suzanne Cherau is a Registered Professional Archaeologist and has worked as a senior archaeologist/principal investigator for PAL, Inc. since 1987. She has directed over 450 cultural resources management projects in New England, New York, and New Jersey. Her specialties also include archaeological predictive modeling, New England historic urban and industrial archaeology including mill dam removal, New England prehistoric archaeology, and historic preservation planning.