Personal artefacts

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Several fashionable copper-alloy buttons were found on the Nevis villages. With the exception of high-style riding habits, women's clothing did not use buttons until the 1830s. As a result, buttons tell us about the garments men wore, and can point to choices enslaved men made regarding their attire. Buttons were used to fasten jackets, overcoats, vests, shirts, and breeches. In addition to their functional use, fashionable men's garments were often conspicuously adorned with costly buttons that had no matching utilitarian buttonhole; in those cases, buttons served as decorative accents. Of the copper-alloy buttons found at the Nevis villages, three were larger than 18.5 millimetres in diameter, indicating that they were most likely attached to a frock or great coat, male garments that were not ordinarily given to enslaved men.

The large quantity of imported tobacco pipe fragments found at each village reveal that many enslaved men and women smoked tobacco. They found ways to purchase imported pipes, and they either grew tobacco or purchased it in local markets. Many of the recovered pipe fragments were decorated, suggesting that enslaved labourers may have deliberately chosen to purchase and display decorative pipes in social settings.

Each village site contained artefacts that indicate that some enslaved labourers owned or had access to guns. Gun flint and lead shot suggest that a few men at each village may have been employed as watchmen to guard pastures, orchards, livestock, and slave provision grounds. Watchmen were frequently armed with cutlasses and occasionally with guns (Higman 1976, 175). Unlike the US colonies where wild animals abounded, Nevis and St Kitts had virtually no hunting stock, therefore gun paraphernalia cannot be directly linked to food procurement.

Few animal bones, often referred to as faunal remains by archaeologists, were found at the villages. The team's archaeologists believe that poor bone preservation on these islands is due to the highly acidic volcanic sediments on the island. Of the 73 faunal fragments recovered from all of the sites, faunal experts at Colonial Williamsburg's Zooarchaeological laboratory were able to identify fragments of domestic pig, cow, sheep/goat, unidentifiable fragments of small, medium, and large mammals, as well as parrot fish and possible rabbit. Although animal bone does not preserve well, marine shells were found at every site. It is likely that some portion of the marine shells were procured by slaves and used to supplement their diet.

Fragments of pewter utensils were found at villages at Jessup's and The Spring. Clearly some enslaved labourers acquired utensils made from a costly metal that would have been used for cooking and eating in place of wooden and shell utensils, or hands.