Treasure from the Isles of Shoals: How New Archaeology is Changing Old History ~ NH Humanities ~ 6 PM on Monday 5/8/23

There is treasure here but not the pirate kind! Scientific “digs” on Smuttynose Island are changing New England history. Archaeologist Nathan Hamilton has unearthed 300,000 artifacts to date on this largely uninhabited rock at the Isles of Shoals. Evidence proves prehistoric Native Americans hunted New Hampshire’s only offshore islands 6,000 years ago. Hundreds of European fishermen split, salted, and dried valuable Atlantic cod here from the 1620s. “King Haley” ruled a survivalist kingdom here before Thomas Laighton struck tourist gold when his family took over the region’s first hotel on Smuttynose. Laighton’s daughter Celia Thaxter spun poetic tales of ghosts and pirates. J. Dennis Robinson, a longtime Smuttynose steward, explores the truth behind the romantic legends of Gosport Harbor in this colorful show-and-tell presentation.*Sponsored by the NH Humanities and the Friends of the Kimball Library.


Presenter: J. Dennis Robinson has published over a dozen books and 3,000 articles on history focused primarily on the seacoast region. He is the author of richly illustrated books on the Isles of Shoals, Strawbery Banke Museum, Wentworth by the Sea Hotel, and Privateer Lynx. His new award-winning hardcover, Music Hall, tracks the 400-year evolution of the performing arts in Portsmouth. His first novel, Point of Graves, is a character driven “history mystery” that explores Black history in New Hampshire’s only seaport. He is currently completing a history of New Castle, a provocative study of the first NH settlement in 1623, and a comic book history of Portsmouth for kids with children’s book illustrator Robert Squier. His work can be seen at online