Learn about archaeology at historic Orwell site

ORWELL — Vermont historian and attorney Paul Gillies will offer a special program at the Mount Independence State Historic Site in Orwell on Saturday, June 8, at 2 p.m. His topic will be “Relics and Souvenirs: Lay Archaeologists and the Uncovering of Vermont.” This is the annual Robert J. Maguire lecture sponsored by the Mount Independence Coalition, the official friends group for the site.
The event is free and is part of Vermont Days weekend, when admission to all Vermont’s state historic sites and day use state parks is free. Donations are appreciated.
Gillies is a lawyer and an historian of Vermont legal history. His book of essays, “Uncommon Law, Ancient Roads, and Other Ruminations,” is to be published by the Vermont Historical Society in July 2013. For more than 20 years, he has provided a column with that name to the Vermont Bar Journal. Before that, as deputy secretary of state, he co-edited the Records of the Vermont Council of Censors (1991) with D. Gregory Sanford and “A Book of Opinions” with then-Secretary of State James H. Douglas. He has also written a history of his town, “A Place to Pass Through: Berlin, Vermont 1820-1991” (1993). He is presently writing a history of the Vermont Supreme Court.
Gillies will start with a broken spoon, encased in a display case of souvenirs from a 19th-century excursion and amateur excavation at Mount Independence, and then will begin to burrow into the magic of subterranean discoveries over time, the urge to dig up treasure, the nostalgic worship of relics, the role of sacred places and their preservation and of their gift shops, the ratiocination or rationalization of booty, the spoils of war, the defacement of ancient structures, the discovery of the elephant skeleton in Mount Holly, the night gold-diggers of Fayston, and what St. Clair meant when he decided to evacuate the Fort in 1777. Gillies, before the ride is over, will with luck return to that spoon, to answer, simply and finally, why we care for historic places.
Each year the Mount Independence Coalition offers the Maguire lecture to present the latest and best research on the American Revolution or Mount Independence. Call 802-759-2412 for more information. 

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