2018 Week 6

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Field School 2018 – Week 6
Lucas Koenig — St. Mary’s College of Maryland


“The Week of the 4th of July”



Field school students Lucas Koenig (left) and Kyle Vanhoy hard at work on a drawing of their excavation unit

The week of the Fourth of July was a busy week at the Leonard Calvert House site! After completing the final troweling and feature photographing at the end of last week, I began this week with the next stage of documentation: mapping and soil descriptions. I, along with a couple of my peers, and under the guidance of Dr. Parno, carefully plotted and sketched the plan and profile views of the unit that I have been working on so far this summer. Documentation is key in archaeology, and along with the mapping we also completed soil color and texture descriptions. We carefully documented the precise color of every kind of soil within the unit using our standardized Munsell soil color book that we always keep handy, and were sure to be just as exact with our texture descriptions. Like all else in archaeology, our work can’t be undone, so we must diligently document everything we do before we move on. As I’ve found out this summer, digging and sifting is only about half of the work, while careful cleaning and precise documentation make up the other half. Digging into the archaeological record is like reading a book of which only one copy was made, and tearing out the pages as you go. For our work to be meaningful, we have to record what we see and what we do meticulously, and this includes the mapping and soil descriptions that occur once the digging is done.


Fragment of a North American stoneware jug with an impressed mark likely indicating that the jug was one gallon in volume

Next for me this week was jumping in on a recently started unit and once again getting back to digging. There is absolutely no way that when the Brome-Howard family put in their hard-packed gravel driveway they could have possibly imagined that, some many decades in the future, field school students would have the pleasure of carefully digging and sifting through it all. And yet, here we are. Such is life at the 2018 dig site. When someone decides to put a multi-layered gravel driveway on top of an important 17th-century colonial site, future archaeologists have to dig it back up. And then sift through it. And then keep digging through gravel to get to the plow-zone and subsoil below. Though slow to trowel, heavy in our buckets, and tedious to sift through, uncovering the Brome-Howard estate’s driveway bespeaks of the complexity of the site we’re working with. An inconvenient layer of our stratigraphy, the gravel driveway that once led to the Brome-Howard house, built in 1840 and since relocated down the road, reminds us of what it is we’re really doing: the hands-on, dirty, and heavy (sometimes very heavy) work required to uncover our past.


Photograph and x-ray of an iron scissor blade found at the Calvert House site

Wednesday was the Fourth of July and so we were off that day to honor the marking of our nation’s independence from England. As the dust settles from our celebrations, however, it is important to reflect on how the roots of our history run much deeper. Many of our nation’s highest ideals, such as Religious Freedom, can be traced to the early colonial period. More specifically, the ideal of Religious Freedom in America can be traced to Historic St. Mary’s and the Leonard Calvert House site, where its history in part lies buried beneath a hard-packed gravel driveway.










Thanks for joining us to learn more about:

Religious Freedom
The 2018 Dig Site
Documentation and Archeology


A Virtual Exhibit


A New World Adventure

English colonies began along North America’s east coast in the 1600s. British subjects left for many reasons, including religious turmoil and lack of opportunity. Cheap land, improved possibilities for making a living, and in Maryland, greater religious freedom attracted people to the New World.





Join us at Historic St. Mary’s City and learn more about religious turmoil and why Maryland offered more religious freedom.

St Johns Site

St. John’s Site Museum


The St. John’s site is one of the most important historic sites in Maryland, if not the nation. The home that was built here in 1638 for Maryland’s first provincial secretary was one of the largest enclosed spaces in the colony. It was where colonial legislators met to hammer out policies supporting the Proprietor’s mandate to separate church and state–150 years before the U.S. Constitution guaranteed religious freedom. Of the English colonies, this was the place where a woman first asked for the right to vote and where the first individual of African descent participated in a general assembly.


The St. John’s Site Museum preserves the foundation of the home that stood here throughout the 17th-century. Original artwork illustrates the evolution of the house, the surrounding plantation, and Tidewater earthfast architecture. Some of the remarkable artifacts that have been found at the site are on display. Exhibits dramatize the events that shaped Maryland and the nation’s first freedoms and video installations introduce individuals and colonial lifeways.  Visitors can examine the contents of a trash pit and gain a unique perspective on life in another time. State-of-the-art exhibits guide guests towards understanding the ways scholars use archaeology, historical documents, and oral traditions to decipher the past.


Please visit Admission & Hours for times the exhibits are open. The Museum is located in the heart of St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Parking is behind the St. Mary’s College admissions office, off College Drive.


DigDeeperDig deeper into St. John’s Site Museum.





The Chapel of St. Mary’s City


The Brick Chapel at St. Mary’s City is a powerful reminder of faith, perseverance, and enduring American values. Many early English settlers fled religious persecution. Liberty of conscience and separation of church and state were mandated in colonial Maryland, far in advance of the laws and practices in other New World colonies. In 1697 Royal Governor Francis Nicholson, who moved the capital from St. Mary’s City to Annapolis, referred to the structure as “A Good Brick Chappell”.  Although the brick chapel was in active use for only about thirty years, its legacy of religious freedom remains vitally important in our own lifetime.


Reconstruction of the 1667 Brick Chapel is an essential step in telling the story of one of Maryland’s greatest contributions to American values.



Maryland historical churches



In 1997, the Historic St. Mary’s City Foundation initiated the Chapel Campaign with a goal of raising funds to rebuild the 1667 Brick Chapel.  Individuals, foundations, corporations, small businesses, social, religious, and civic groups from throughout Maryland and the nation have participated in The Chapel Campaign. The contributions made so far are a strong beginning for the project, but the reality is that additional gifts are still needed in order to complete and furnish the building.  Would you like to Donate Now?



EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY:  Due to guidelines set in place by Maryland Governor Hogan in the wake of increases in cases of  COVID-19 and our overwhelming concern for public safety, Historic St. Mary’s City will be closed beginning Wednesday, November 11, 2020.  The Visitor Center, the outdoor living history sites, and The Shop at Farthing’s Ordinary will remain closed. Please check our social media pages for further updates.


stop racismA message from Dr. Regina Faden, Executive Director of Historic St. Mary’s City
“Sorrow is constantly with us now. For months we have been haunted by the threat of a pandemic, but for African Americans sorrow has been their companion throughout the history of this country. As a nation, we have witnessed the murder of George Floyd and struggle to make sense of it. Individually we grieve, some publicly and some privately, and pray for peace and justice. From History St Mary’s City, we express our deepest sympathy to the family of George Floyd and all the people who loved him. To the families of Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade we are deeply sorry for your immeasurable loss. What do we do now, when confronted with our nation’s history of racial violence and the tragedies of so many families and communities because of systemic racism? How do we begin to dismantle that which is killing our brothers and sisters? The first step is the hardest – to discern how we have participated in and perpetuated racial injustice.

For fifty years, we at Historic St. Mary’s City have been proud to tell the story of religious freedom planted here in Maryland by the Calvert family, but we have not told the whole story. A year ago, we asked for the opinions of a diverse collective of respected community members and they told us, “you need to do better and we are willing to help you do better if you are willing to listen to us and to make real change.” It has been a year of reflection and learning from community members for us at HSMC. We will contribute to change by telling everyone’s story. It is only together that we can dismantle the systems that perpetuate racism and begin to lift the constant burden of sorrow.”


    CANCELLED – Hearth and Home in Early Maryland

Join us November 27 & 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for our annual celebration of the harvest season.  Explore 17th-century foodways, and discover what it took to weather the winter before refrigerators, electric stoves, and grocery stores.

Support Southern MD Food Bank

Bring a canned good for the Southern Maryland Food Bank during our Hearth and Home event, and save $1 on admission!  For more information, contact info@HSMCdigsHistory.org, or (240) 895-4990.


We want to encourage everyone to take some rest and do something fun this weekend. Take a walk with family, call some friends, play a game. If you’re looking for some inspiration, watch the attached video.  It seems some things never change including the need for fun!  For those who may be curious, this video was magically taken in 1667 when the main concern was the seasoning – our staff and volunteers in 2020 are safely in their homes, keeping their distances.