Less than a mile from Newcastle Inn, you will find something known as a shell midden. The one closest to the inn, on the western banks of the Damariscotta River, is known as the Glidden Midden. There is another midden, the Whaleback Midden, just opposite on the eastern banks of the river. Unfortunately, this one was largely destroyed back in the late 1880’s when it was mined for chicken feed.
What is a midden? Basically, it is a dump, a location where people brought their refuse, which in this case included lots and lots of oyster shells. It is believed that these middens were formed over a period of 1,000 years from 200 BC to AD 1000. Until you get down to the water level you don’t realize that the wooded area you just walked through, to get to the river, is a pile of oyster shells that is about 100 feet long and 20 feet high!
On a recent walk there I was astounded by the size of some of the oyster shells. There was one that had to be at least 6″ long. I have heard that when archeologists were digging in the area that they found oyster shells 8″ in length.
This is just one of many unique things to see and do when you visit this special part of MidCoast Maine. We will get your day off to a great start with a delicious breakfast and send you on your way to explore the Shell Middens.