Excavation VA Eastern Shore 2017 - Passport in Time

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Virginia - George Washington-Jefferson NF
Closed! Excavations on Virginia's Eastern Shore: Pear Valley and Eyreville

Eyreville Dutch pipe bowls.jpg by Mike Madden, US Forest Service Archaeologist
Eyreville Dutch pipe bowls

May 9-21, 2017 (including weekends)

Must commit to a minimum of 3 days

That’s right: alive and still kicking, the George-Washington and Jefferson National Forest invites you to the beautiful shores of Virginia for its 2017, Passport in Time excavation project! The Archaeological Society of Virginia, Chesapeake Bay Archaeological Consortium, Department of Historic Resources, and USDA-Forest Service have recognized the impacts of both rising sea levels and catastrophic storms on archaeological resources along the Atlantic Coast, in the Chesapeake Bay, and within the tidal sections of tributary rivers. There are also concerns about damage to interior sites resulting from deeper plowing and sheet erosion. With these factors in mind, time is of the essence to locate, record, and preserve as many of these historic and prehistoric treasures as possible, and we need your help! This spring, as a cooperative effort among PIT/the FS and other agencies, and as a field school, we will test two important sites in Northampton County, along Virginia’s eastern shore, to enhance data collection on their threatened resources. The first is Pear Valley: the earliest surviving, single-room-plan house in Virginia. The site was a small Yeoman’s Cottage, dating to ca. 1740, once occupied by a farmer raising grain for market. It is currently owned and managed by the Northampton Historic Preservation Society. The field school will undertake limited test excavations in an attempt to locate the foundations of the structure’s outbuildings, which will aid in site management and interpretation.

Our second objective, the Eyreville Site, is located on the grounds of a late 17th- to 19th-centuries plantation house. The extensive farm lies alongside the Chesapeake Bay (and is easily reached from Route 13); the Eyreville Site, where our test excavations will focus, is situated to the west of the main house. During initial testing (and the removal of a great many tree stumps!), numerous artifacts dating to the 17th-century were recovered. The assemblage, to date, includes rose-head nails, bricks, blue and grey stoneware, tin-glazed ware, gin and wine bottle fragments, and numerous pipe stems. Also recovered, and of particular note, were Dutch yellow bricks and several elaborately-decorated Dutch pipes. During our field testing and documentary research this spring, we will attempt to isolate the structure’s foundations and other features in order to determine the site’s function and to obtain more precise dates of its occupation. Participants in this year’s PIT project will be exposed to a wealth of information, including proper field testing and documentation methods, early Virginian history, and much more. There is also much to see and do here in your hours “off the clock:” it’s a beautiful place to be in the spring, with breath-taking vistas, abundant natural and archaeological history to explore, and fishing and crabbing right from the pier near our campsite! So, come help us document history before it’s gone; stay for the blue crab and camaraderie – see you in May!

Number of openings: 10

Special skills: Volunteers must be physically capable of extended periods of kneeling/sitting/bending/stooping and/or light, but repetitive, lifting each day, and in a variety of weather conditions (mostly heat and humidity); previous archaeological excavation, mapping, artifact documentation, artifact identification (especially specific to the time period and/or material(s)), and/or early Virginian history experience helpful, but not required

Minimum age: 14 years old, under 18 with a responsible adult

Facilities: Tent camping (onlyno RVs, trailers, or pop-ups) available at no charge at undeveloped Kirwin Hall campsite (~ 5.5 miles from Eastville on the Chesapeake Bay side of the peninsula); chemical toilets and washstands provided by FS at campsite and worksites; parking will be available and assigned to volunteers during project period; campsite is waterfront, and fishing and crabbing will be allowed on the pier; Exmore and Cape Charles are full-service communities, with hotels/motels, restaurants, RV parks, and a full range of other amenities; volunteers responsible for own lodging (if opting to stay off-site)/personal camping equipment, meals, extra water, and daily transportation to Kirwin Hall (if opting to stay in town); to obtain Google (or other engine) maps, the campsite address is: 2238 Kirwin Hall Lane, Cape Charles, VA 23310

Please Note: Work will begin promptly at 8:00 a.m., and shut down by 4:30 p.m. – the field school’s timing in early spring will avoid the influx of insects, heat, and humidity. Work will also be prone to the vagaries of the weather. Signs will be posted along Kirwin Hall Lane, directing you towards the campsite area. Also, our campsite is on private property, so there are a few rules we must follow:
- No RVs, trailers or wheeled pop-up tents allowed; tent camping only
- No pets are allowed
- Keep the area clean of trash and debris
- Please park only in the designated areas

Nearest towns: Eastville, 5 miles; Cape Charles, 8 miles; Exmore, 12 miles

Applications due: Ongoing until filled

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