Mysterious bundles found inside Halifax's historic Morris House
Published Monday, November 3, 2014 6:55PM AST
Three mysterious bundles have been found in the attic of Halifax’s historic Morris House, nearly two years after it was moved from the city’s South End to Central Halifax.
The 250-year-old house has been under renovations since the move and when upgrades reached the sealed-up attic, they revealed a surprise - three cloth bundles.
“They've got a good age on them. Whether they date back to the beginning of the building, I don't know,” says archaeologist Laura de Boer.
The job of opening the bundles fell to de Boer. Bundle number one produced a black pleated skirt.
“Not a colour that was worn socially, unless you were in mourning, which is interesting,” says de Boer.
Bundle two was bound the tightest and preserved best. It contained a woman’s jacket.
“That's got some great colour on it from being so tightly rolled,” says de Boer.
Bundle three contained another jacket, also black, and was the piece in poorest condition.
“We'd love to know more about the woman who might have worn them. Was she in mourning?” asks de Boer.
Morris House was owned by the Morris family for about 70 years, but it served as an office. Their much larger family home was located just behind it.
Charles Morris was the surveyor general of Nova Scotia - a position later held by three more Morris men.
“They were responsible for mapping, surveying, laying out a number of towns around Nova Scotia, so they were intimately involved in the development, in the colonial era, of Nova Scotia,” says Linda Forbes, president of Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia.
According to de Boer, the bundles of clothing may be linked to an old superstitious tradition.
“My best guess is that this was a deliberate deposit, potentially superstitious in nature, in terms of protecting the house from bad influence.”
She says it was common practice in previous centuries to deposit clothing or shoes to ward off evil spirits. Similar bundles have been found in three other Halifax homes, as well as in Luneburg and Pictou counties.
“I feel like a little kid discovering something in the attic which is a lot of fun,” says de Boer.
The clothing will be offered to the Nova Scotia Museum for preservation and more study.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jayson Baxter