Iron furniture lock hasp tool
Furniture lock hasp
  • Object number – 00358-JR
  • Material – Iron
  • Place of Origin – Likely England
  • Date – c. 1607-1610
  • Context – Pit 1
  • Location – Collections
  • Category – Households

A piece of metal hardware that would have been used along with escutcheons, this iron strap has a hinged lock hasp and would have been mounted over the top and front of an item of furniture such as a chest, coffer, or casket. Lockable containers like these were used by the colonists in the earliest years of the fort before more permanent structures were built with doors to lock possessions behind. 

The furniture could be locked by using a key to slide a bolt through the hasp on the back of the strap, which would have fitted into a slot in the lockplate. Similar to escutcheons, furniture lock hasps are found mostly in features that were no longer in use after the Starving Time, including pit houses (like the pictured example from Pit 1), the Factory, and the fort’s first well

Artifacts like this one help archaeologists understand the development of the fort over time from an impermanent, hastily constructed settlement to a permanent fort and home. Factors like the Starving Time, during which many died, could mean that unused chests were discarded as the fort underwent a “cleansing” in the spring of 1610. The imposition of martial law in early 1610 would have also initiated a change in the settlement from keeping goods individually to a more communal dispersal of rations and centralized trade. Instead of storing personal belongings in locked chests, beginning around 1610 goods were likely stored in communal spaces behind locked doors to be dispersed to the community according to the martial law regulations. The change from chest or box hardware in the earliest contexts to door and building hardware (like pintles) in post-1610 contexts is seen in the material culture record of the collection.