Summer is nearly here, and the archaeology field season is in full swing. We are excited by the almost daily chance to make new discoveries and to share these exciting moments with visitors and volunteers. Volunteers donated over 6,000 hours helping us in the field and lab last year! We welcome you to join us in the weeks and months ahead as Research Associate Tracy Jenkins excavates part of an 18th-century quarter at Fairfield Plantation, we continue documenting the 19th-century cemetery at White Marsh, and we wash and identify artifacts from these and other projects across the Middle Peninsula at lab nights. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 804-815-4467 to get on our Dig List and learn where you can help out in the field (normal times are Monday-Friday, 9-4), or join us for lab nights at the Rosewell Visitor Center (Tuesday evenings, 6-9). Archaeology is the foundation for our research, preservation and education efforts – see below for more info on some of the exciting research planned for this summer.
Search for Slave Quarters at Fairfield
Fairfield Foundation Research Associate Tracy Jenkins is back for his second summer of research on what is likely a mid-to-late-18th-century slave quarter at Fairfield Plantation. In 2001, Fairfield staff identified a large feature at the edge of the field southwest of the manor house. Located beside a slope that descends quickly to the edge of Carter’s Creek, the artifacts concentrate in a relatively small area distinctly separate from the plantation’s core. Jenkins’ research interests (and the efforts of many volunteers like you) led him to excavate nine test units in 2010, uncovering a large feature complex that he hopes to better delineate and then sample as part of his studies at the College of William and Mary. This area will contribute significantly to our understanding of Fairfield’s past. Consider joining us for a day of digging here or at several other areas we are investigating at Fairfield.
Work Continues on White Marsh Cemetery
The 19th-century cemetery at White Marsh continues to fascinate excavators as we peel back the layers of soil and study the tombstones and other artifacts related to the Rootes and Tabb families that owned and lived at the plantation in the early-to-mid-19th century. While our focus does not involve excavating burials, we are learning about the significance of grave markers, the memorialization of the dead, and the challenges of maintaining private family cemeteries. The owners of White Marsh are working alongside the Fairfield Foundation to piece together the fragmented tombstones and plan a restoration of the graveyard. This excavation is teaching us about history while showcasing the challenges of preserving the past for the future.