The archaeology department recently finished its field season in the South Yard and just began an analysis of all the artifacts recovered during the nine-month excavation season. The analysis of the household items recovered from the South Yard will be very important for our overall archaeological study of Montpelier’s enslaved community.
This week we are putting the South Yard to bed for the winter after a long and productive season. We opened up an area 85′x45′ (approximately 180 5ft. x 5ft. units) and completely exposed two house areas in the South Yard. The South Yard is the site for the homes and work areas for the Madisons’ house slaves.
As we approach Thanksgiving, we thought it would be fun to share with you an appropriate find for this time of year when “sumptuous” feasts are on everyone’s mind. As mentioned in a previous post, we are completing our excavations in the South Yard where we just recently located a linear trench that is 2.5 feet wide and runs for at least 12 feet.
Throughout the Madisons’ retirement years (1817-1836), visitors to Montpelier were often surprised “at seeing [Madison's] negroes go to church [on] Sunday. They were gaily dressed, the women in bright-coloured calicoes; and, when a sprinkling of rain came, up went a dozen umbrellas.”1 This past Sunday, visitors to Montpelier also donned their much-needed umbrellas to pay homage to the generations of enslaved African Americans who lived and labored at Montpelier.
The summer has flown by and in the archaeology department we have made much progress in our excavations in the South Yard. We have completely uncovered the two southernmost slave quarters in the South Yard and have redefined our understanding of these buildings.
As we reported in an earlier post, the construction crew delayed building the second smokehouse to allow our archaeologists time to confirm its precise location. The archaeology team sprang into action and found the evidence to confirm where the original smokehouse stood.
The last couple of days have been busy! The construction crew completed the first smokehouse frame in the South Yard, where enslaved domestic workers and craftsmen lived during James and Dolley Madison’s time.
Get your hard hats because we’re about to enter a construction zone! Beginning tomorrow visitors can watch a team of carpenters build timber outlines of two smokehouses, part of the South Yard, where enslaved domestic workers and craftsmen lived and worked during James and Dolley Madison’s time.
Does the number 1.618 mean anything to you? Perhaps not, but it is a number of importance to many mathematicians, architects, art history scholars, and maybe to our very own James Madison. In fact, it is the latest clue in the Presidential Detective Story.