by Vivian Hite, VCU student
On Monday we all met at the Rockefeller Library in Williamsburg. We began our tour at the archaeological dig in Market Corner. The dig goal was to determine the location of a colonial structure so that they can build a replica there. The second site we visited was the Bray School for enslaved and freed African Americans during the colonial era. Crystal Castleberry, a former VCU Ferry Farm student, is an intern with Colonial Williamsburg working on the site. After visiting the dig sites we ventured to the museum grade lab. Conservator Emily Williams presented to us on archaeological conservation methods and procedures after which we toured the lab. We examined the artifact cases, x-rays, and lab work being done there. Though many of us enjoy the field aspect of archaeology, some were extremely enthralled to learn the conservation aspect of archaeology and make the connections provided to us.
Tuesday Francesca and I both worked hard to finish our colonial layer. While spraying down our unit to determine the soil color we noticed two features in the bottom of our colonial layer. One of the features was found in the center of our unit, shaped like an Easter Peep it had a slight color change, a different soil texture, and charcoal flecks within it. The second feature was found in the northwest corner of our unit bordering the “subsoil” to the west of our unit. The discovery of both features halted excavation of our unit but it appears we reached subsoil.
After finishing our unit we began to profile our original unit’s east wall. As we scored each layer we began to see all our work come together; the relationship between each layer and the overall relation between each unit as the overall eastern portion of the site.
Wednesday morning I went into the small finds lab to finish the unit summaries for both my original and my second unit. As I compiled the information and reviewed the work completed for the last five weeks I realized how much I enjoyed what all I had done.
After finishing the unit summaries I returned to the field to help excavate. The baulks that once helped us record elevation were now being removed. Layer by layer Stephanie, Olivia, and I removed the baulk that separated our units. We finished the day with our antebellum layer wondering what else we would be doing the following day.
Thursday we did a little bit of everything. The morning started with finishing our baulk. Once that was entirely removed I helped Olivia and Stephanie set up their unit for profiling. After they finished their profile Stephanie went to the lab to finish her unit summary while Olivia and I moved on to another profile on the south wall. Before we could finish our profile we were dismissed from the field for an impromptu field trip to Dovetail. Dovetail is a CRM company in Fredericksburg that works throughout Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and other northern states. Once the tour was finished some went home in preparation for the end of season party tonight while Olivia, Mariana, Lauren, and I returned to the field. All of us still had to finish our profiles from earlier in the day.
Day 5- mapping , profiling,
On our last day of field school we all were instructed to give our units a fresh scrape for the following weeks mapping. After the units were finished some students left the field to pack and return home while others stayed to finish various tasks. By the end of the day only Olivia, Mariana, Lauren and I were left. Lauren and Olivia worked on profiles while Mariana and I began mapping our units for the final map.
The last day brought all of our work together. We profiled and learned to map, we tried to throw rocks across the Rappahannock River like George once did, and we signed our names alongside much other field school students names on the north toolbox. Field school wrapped up just as they told us on the first day it would, but we couldn’t believe it was over so fast.