Montpelier Metal Detecting Programs

Tier 1

Montpelier has begun a set of outreach programs geared towards engaging metal detectorists with the goals and values of archaeological research and preservation. The first of these programs began in March 2012 and featured 12 metal detectorists who spent a week at Montpelier learning how to use a metal detector as a remote sensing device. Since that time, we have held 6 additional programs and have had over 50 metal detectorists take part in these hands-on education programs.  The stated goal of these programs is to give metal detectorists the interest and desire to return home and work with archaeologists on a research project.  In 2014, we incorporated training for archaeologists interested in working with metal detectorists on their projects.  Our staff is trained in how to engage metal detectorists with archaeological methods and at the same time train archaeologists how to incorporate metal detectorists into their research programs.  The week-long programs include lectures, tours, and at least 30 hours of on-site metal detector survey on Montpelier's 2700 historic grounds.  The field portion of the program is designed to locate and define historic sites on the Montpelier property to ensure their future protection.  

During this week, these detectorists worked one-on-one with Montpelier's professional archaeology staff on surveying a section of the properties woodlots for archaeological sites.  As a result of this gridded survey, we located dozens of previously unknown slave quarters and work sites in an area of woods originally zoned for timber thinning.  These sites are now under protection and were studied as part of a National Geographic grant through more intensive metal detector surveys in 2014. Another part of the program was conducting survey to define the concentrations of nails and metal objects at a known slave site (by only marking hits). The results from this survey guided our  placement of excavation units in the summer of 2012 as part of a NEH-funded study of the Montpelier enslaved community.

Training Archaeologists in Metal Detector Survey

Recently, we have begun inviting archaeologists to participate in the week-long programs to learn our methodology, methods of site and artifact recording, and, most importantly, to collaborate with members of the metal detecting community in a co-creative environment. These are not programs designed to learn how to use a metal detector, but instead to learn how to work with metal detectorists. We invite archaeologists working for CRM firms, academic institutions, military installations, and museums to take part in these programs. We are particularly interested in archaeologists who attend the program with a member of their local community already interested in metal detecting, where they can learn the methodological approach together.

This spring, we are also offering week-long advanced field schools for undergraduate and graduate students interested in learning about metal detecting survey and site-level analysis. These programs are held during Spring Break, and students will work alongside our archaeologists and metal detector staff members to learn these methodological techniques.

We are in the continual process of vetting and improving our program through discussions with various archaeological organizations at conferences, reviews and blogs.  

To see more regarding this program play the following video that summarizes this event:

To find out more about our programs that we will be running in 2014, see the following link: Archaeological Metal Detector Programs at Montpelier

To enroll in our programs, please send Director of Archaeology Matt Reeves a message asking for more information!



Group shot from March 2012 Archaeological Metal detecting course

Archaeology staff member working with two metal detector participants during gridded metal detector survey in woods.