For the third year in a row, the Fairfield Foundation and the Middle Peninsula Chapter of the Archeological Society of Virginia (ASV), led a great group of dedicated volunteers on a shovel test pit survey across the grounds of the future Middle Peninsula State Park, near Rosewell in Gloucester County. A damp and gray Tuesday morning started the survey out on a soggy note, but after just a few shovel tests, the clouds parted and the sun graced us with its presence (and its warmth!) for the remainder of the survey. The beautiful spring weather created great spirits and great enthusiasm for all those involved!
Pattie, a certification student, pauses her STP excavation to pose for a picture in the sun!
Accompanied by State Archaeologist Mike Barber, a group of enthusiastic volunteers as well as students in the ASV’s Archaeological Technician Certification Program enjoyed the sunshine while digging a series of shovel test pits across several agricultural fields on the state park. Building on a project that was begun in 2011 and continued in 2012, these excavations focused on testing the remainder of the field areas closest to the Rosewell Visitor Center. Our goal was to identify any prehistoric or historic archaeological sites and better map their boundaries.
STP survey in action!
Previous archaeological testing had indicated the presence of two historic archaeological sites in these areas, so our goal was to further refine the boundaries of the sites as well as learn more about what they might represent. All of this land was associated with Rosewell plantation from the 17th century to the late 19th century, and this work will help us better understand the evolution of the broader agricultural landscape as the Page family, African slaves, and English indentured servants worked to clear forests, plant tobacco, and build the houses, fences, roads and other infrastructure that defined this area for centuries. We did not always find many artifacts, but this information will be invaluable as we strive to learn more about the creation of plantations on a broad scale. Our efforts will also help guide the planning process on the state park, as we identify areas that deserve preservation or more research prior to any park infrastructure projects. The Middle Peninsula State Park will be a valuable recreational facility for the region, and the history and archaeology of this land are remarkable assets.
For three years, the Middle Peninsula State Park Survey has offered ASV certification students within the region an excellent opportunity to get archaeological experience in the field. Not only does this project benefit certification students by providing them with survey experience, but each year it also coincides with a required certification lecture. This year, State Archaeologist Mike Barber spoke to the group extensively about zooarchaeology (the study of animal remains from archaeological contexts), and everyone learned a lot! We plan to offer a similar opportunity in 2014, so stay tuned.
Mike Barber (left) provides a hands-on experience for certification students by sharing a collection of faunal remains.
Certification students and volunteers examine examples of faunal remains.
If you’d like to learn more about the certification program, you can find details on the ASV website. By following the Certification Program on Facebook you can stay in the loop about all upcoming certification fieldwork opportunities!
If you’re interested in hearing more particulars about the Middle Peninsula Chapter of the ASV, catch up on our past blog post about the Chapter, and be sure to also check out the ASV 2012 newsletter article (page 12) which sums up the variety of activities that the chapter has been involved in over the past few years!
And don’t worry if you missed out on this opportunity to come dig with Fairfield staff and volunteers, because we have a busy schedule of spring and summer activities planned! You can stay up to date and involved in a variety of ways – join our email list to learn about dig days, follow The Fairfield Foundation on Facebook, and definitely check out the new Events page on our website, where you can find event dates and descriptions for the coming months!