Fall and Winter Archaeology Expedition Programs Starting!

After a successful summer session of Archaeology Excavation Expedition Programs, our #DigMontpelier Team is ready for a new crew of expedition members to begin arriving in September and October. In August we had one of our most successful summers in recent memory, with 35 attendees helping our staff excavate over the course of three one-week programs. Among the discoveries were a 16 x 16 foot outbuilding dating to the 18th century, a 30 foot long brick drain dating to ca. 1800, and numerous artifacts and features that have yet to be explored. You can see photos of all our expeditions on our Department Flickr page here!

Our fall and winter seasons of expedition programs is more varied. In addition to our archaeology excavation programs, we are also hosting a Metal Detector Expedition in November and our Reconstruction Expeditions to begin 2015, expanding the opportunities for you to participate in the location and reconstruction of the Montpelier landscape!

Excavation Expeditions

As always, our archaeological excavation expeditions have open enrollments for the fall. Our September programs are close to full, but we still have space in the October programs, which are hosted the weeks of October 5–11 and 19–25. These fall investigations will include investigating the 18th century trash deposit we discovered this summer in more detail, as well as investigating other elements of 18th and 19th century Madisonian landscapes.

These programs are a wonderful opportunity to about how archaeologists investigate the past while actually doing archaeology yourself. We take participants of all ages, ranging from homeschooled teenagers to retirees. You will work along side our archaeology staff as we teach you about the archaeological process, and give you an opportunity to make discoveries about the lives of James and Dolley Madison! Send us an email at dig@montpelier.org if you are interested in attending!

Metal Detector Expeditions

Two years ago, the Montpelier team partnered with MineLab to begin offering an expedition program focused on using metal detectors for archaeological survey. These programs are a collaboration between metal detector enthusiasts and archaeologists, and are designed for individuals who have experience working their machines and are interested in using them in archaeological contexts, and learning about their archaeological applications. This program has been tremendously succesful, allowing metal detectorists to work on Montpelier sites in collaboration with archaeologists, identifying numerous unknown sites across our 2,700 acres.

This fall’s program is November 9th through the 15th. If you’re a metal detectorist interested in working with archaeologists to identify historic sites for future excavation, and to learn more about the archaeological process, please send us a message at dig@montpelier.org to get more information about the program!

The Reconstruction Expedition

Last year, Montpelier hosted their first-ever Reconstruction Expedition, where 17 individuals worked to turn an archaeological site into a fully reconstructed and interpreted log cabin. In conjunction with our partners at Salvagewrights, LTD., participants spent the week learning about how archaeologists and historic architects used archaeological information to interpret the structure, and then worked with Salvagewrights to learn the techniques for building a log cabin as Madison's enslaved workforce did in the 18th and 19th centuries.


This year, we are offering a two, one-week programs to work on reconstructing one of the Field Quarters we excavated in 2012 and 2013. The first week is the basic course, and will be from January 25 to January 31. The second will focus on more specific details of the construction, including making windows and chimneys, and is a more advanced course. It will be held the week of February 15 through February 21. These are unique programs, and are a rare opportunity to be a part of building Montpelier’s landscape. If you’re interested in participating, please send us an email at dig@montpelier.org!

To learn more about all our Expedition Programs, visit our program website, or email us at dig@montpelier.org with any questions! We are looking forward to discovering and building Montpelier with you!

Terry P. Brock