Archaeological Research Continues This Month

Archaeological research continues at the historic core of Ash Lawn-Highland during the month of April. Rivanna Archaeological Services is conducting excavation Monday through Friday, weather permitting, in the front yard of the ca. 1870 house added by the Massey family.

The purpose of this work is to investigate a significant deposit of Monroe-period architectural debris found while conducting shovel-testing during the winter. The debris included handmade bricks, hand wrought nails, window glass, wall plaster, and ceramics. The testing also found furniture tacks, which suggests a building that was furnished at the time of its destruction. There is some evidence of burning, primarily in the condition of the window glass and nails.

“We hope to discover the location of the building these items came from. It is possible that the debris in the Massey front yard marks the location of a structure, although it is also possible that the building was elsewhere but nearby,” said Executive Director Sara Bon-Harper. “Of course, we hope that this excavation solves the remaining mysteries about the Monroe house. It will be important to determine whether the building contributing this destruction layer was attached to the current house, or separate.”

Dr. Ben Ford is the principal investigator. He and the Rivanna Archaeological Services staff will be available to answer specific visitor questions about their work, and Ash Lawn-Highland interpretive staff will be available to engage with the public about this exciting point of interest.