The Montpelier Archaeology Department has hosted field schools for more than two decades, beginning in 1987 with James Madison University. The program has grown to include students from a variety of universities, spanning the US and abroad.
The Archaeology Field School at James Madison’s Montpelier is one month long, and is offered 10 times annually as a 4, 5, or 6 credit-hour course. A no credit course is also available, space permitting. While Montpelier manages both prehistoric and historic sites, the field school focuses on the historic archaeology of the 18th and 19th centuries. The focus for this year's field school is home for an enslaved family located in the South Yard adjacent to the Montpelier main house.
The field school is an intensive course designed to give students training in field and laboratory techniques. Students are housed at our intern house on the property, and will be introduced to the archaeological method through practical experience while engaged in unit excavations (Phase II and III). Students will also be introduced to survey tools (laser transit), and their use in topographic surveys and establishing a grid.
Archaeology Field School
The field experience is supplemented by a series of lectures detailing artifact identification, stratigraphy, site formation processes and interpretation, and the overarching interpretation of archaeological sites through their artifacts and features. In addition, students are introduced to post-excavation material analysis and processing in the Archaeology Laboratory.
Students who have participated in the Archaeology Field School are also invited to apply for competitive internships (including paid internships), over the summer and winter months. See the Montpelier Internships page for more information on these opportunities. The $400 fee for the field school also includes housing. We do offer scholarships for African American students.