Women’s League Cabin Site


After perfecting pedestrian survey at the Field site, the Archaeology class moved on to the main site: the Women’s League Cabin. Survey of the Women’s League Cabin (WLC) site spanned two lab days, April 21st and 28th, 2015, during which students mapped out and combed twenty 10 by 10 meter survey units. Before surveying began, students learned how to map out survey units using a theodolite (and a theodolite app for iPhones). By using compasses and a theodolite, the class mapped out a theoretically accurate grid with units of roughly the same size.

Once the survey grid was mapped out, survey collection began. Many of the survey units had heavy lef litter which was carefully raked away to expose the soil. While doing this, students were careful to look out for any potential artifacts. Because survey units at the WLC site were much smaller than those surveyed in the Field, students preformed ‘complete/gridded’ collections methods. This meant that the class broke up into pair and throughly combed the survey unit.

Below is a link to the interactive Women’s League Cabin Survey Map.

Survey Unit totals in the interactive map are color coded based on total artifacts found.

WLC survey map with color coded survey unit totals.

WLC survey map with color coded survey unit totals.

  • Purple dots = No artifacts
  • Blue dots = 1-5 artifacts
  • Green dots = 6-10 artifacts
  • Yellow dots = 11-15 artifacts
  • Orange dots = 16-20 artifacts
  • Red dots = More than 20 artifacts

Clicking on these colored dots will produce a ‘pop up’ detailing the materials found within each survey unit. A ‘layer’ option on the left hand side of the application also allows you to turn on and off map layers, exposing other portions of the survey, like object biographies and ideal grid lines. Comparing the survey grid lines is especially interesting, showing how despite best efforts, it’s difficult to create perfectly square survey units and how objects at the site can dictate the feasibility of a survey grid. While laying out the survey grids, the class also kept in mind the location of the historic cabin. Based off of blue prints and the remains of a backdoor patio, the Women’s League Cabin was situated approximately in B-3, though no precise foundations were uncovered. The ArcGIS map includes a layer showing the approximate location of the Women’s League Cabin and patio.



Explore the site like the Archaeology class did! Discover finds and learn about the physical history of the Women’s League Cabin.

Click on Link for Access to the Interactive Women’s League Cabin Survey Map!

For more information on artifact distribution and fun ArcGIS data for the Women’s League Cabin, visit the GIS page


 Artifacts Found

Total artifacts collected from the Women's League Cabin site. Note that 90 of the 'others' comes from a single unit (C1), designating a charcoal deposit with 90 pieces of charcoal.

Total artifacts collected from the Women’s League Cabin site. Note that 90 of the ‘others’ comes from a single unit (C1), designating a charcoal deposit with 90 pieces of charcoal.

Women's League Cabin site finds broken up by survey unit. Note that 'other' for C1 has a total artifact number of 90 (all charcoal). To fit the other finds better, this bar was cut off at 35.

Women’s League Cabin site finds broken up by survey unit. Note that ‘other’ for C1 has a total artifact number of 90 (all charcoal). To fit the other finds better, this bar was cut off at 35.

Objects found at the WLC site told a history of use by students and community members. The materials collected through the survey showed mostly artifacts related to consuming food or drink, an activity that easily goes along with hanging out in a cabin in the woods. Oral history accounts also support the consumption of food and alcohol (as well as other drinks) at the site, giving historical backing for the physical materials found.

The presence of glass, the highest density of material found when discounting charcoal deposits, identified drinking as a major activity at the cabin throughout time, though the presence of soda bottles and cans showed that alcohol wasn’t the sole drink of choice at the cabin. Object biographies of bottle glass showed a date range from the early 1940’s to current, giving an excellent occupation range which again matches the written and remembered record. The modern (2010-2014) bottles discovered also show the site is still occasionally used by either Northfield or Carleton community members.

Besides glass, the metal materials found were also primarily related to food. These artifacts included metal cans, lids, and spoons related to canned goods, further showing the importance of food and drink at the WLC.  Other metal materials were clearly associated with the cabin itself, either presenting as metal springs, nails, or furnishing ornaments. Because we don’t know exactly where the material from the destruction of the cabin went, these remnants tell a story of what use to make up the cabin’s lived exterior and interior.

Most of the plastic materials were also related to food stuff (bottles and disposable container scraps), though some pointed towards other activities at the cabin. The presence of multiple combs from after the 1940’s (dated from 1940’s – 1970’s), also showed occupation of the site by female members of the Carleton community. Combs point towards overnight trips to the cabin, when individuals would bring beauty products and gear.

The bits of flowerpot and glass found in SU-B3, where the patio/porch of the cabin was located, suggest that this was a place that people used to decorate and gather on to enjoy beverages. SU-C1 contained a lot of charcoal and numerous shards of a glass window. This was probably some sort of dumping ground a small distance away from the cabin, though the charcoal could also be more modern in origin. It is possible that fires have been held at the site after the demolition of the cabin. SU-C3 also has a lot of similar looking shards of glass, perhaps from a shattered window at the time of the cabin’s demolition. The metal spoon and mug sherd indicate that this might have been where the kitchen was. Both kitchen related materials were dated to near the end of the cabin’s existence.

 Survey Unit Assemblages: Photos

Below are pictures of the all materials collected from the WLC survey units. Note that not all materials were collected, but below represents a good variety of the materials found. For a more in depth look at some of the artifacts, visit the Object Biographies page. 



The survey of the Women’s League Cabin revealed expected finds associated with a college retreat. Our knowledge of historical usage was enhanced by seeing the widespread distribution of glass materials associated with alcohol bottles.

Our understanding of the site itself was also broadened. Based on the remaining flagstones of the Women’s League patio, we’ve come to believe that blueprints for the cabin were written up and then changed on-site to better fit the space. The survey was also able to corroborate the blueprint, with the majority of finds in the C units, which were situated where the Women’s League Cabin historically stood.

Content created by Chloe Bergstrand, Sage Mitch, and Theo Morris. 

ArcGIS map: Chloe Bergstrand

Photos: Theo Morris

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