photos on this page from the Piscataqua River Artifacts exhibit on display now at the museum
Piscataqua Historic Artifacts
The quiet little town of New Castle, New Hampshire, on the shores of the Piscataqua, River recently buzzed with talk of underwater discoveries by Ray Demers and his son John. The Demers, recreational divers during the 1960’s and 1970’s, discovered the wrecks of the schooner owned by and captained by George Jackson and the HMS Astraea under the Piscataqua River at Salamander Point in Harts Cove in New Castle. Right there, near the shores of New Castle, they found Iberian oil vessels, kaolin pipes, Devon Pottery, rum bottles and Bellemine jugs, to name a few of the discoveries. Ray Demers has spent the past 50 years on a personal odyssey of exploration and documentation of the shipwrecks he discovered off New Castle in the 1960's. The Demers have generously donated these treasures to the New Castle Historical Society. Elaine Nollet and Deb Tillar are our lead researchers, working closely with the Demers family. These amazing artifacts have found their way back home to New Castle. The artifacts tell a long lost story of New Castle’s active maritime history, preserved underwater. Archaeologist and historian, Emerson Tad Baker, and Strawbery Banke archaeologist, Alex Martin were stunned by the historical significance of the artifacts, which will help rewrite the history of trade in the Piscataqua Region. The archaeologists and Strawbery Banke volunteers met with with New Castle Historical Society members at the Old Fire Station next to the Museum to sort, categorize and photograph this important collection.
Truly an amazing collection that should revolutionize our thinking about the early history of New Castle and the Piscataqua.
-Tad Baker, professor of history at Salem State University