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Home Excavate: Labor Day Weekend Archaeology Expedition

Excavate: Labor Day Weekend Archaeology Expedition

During the Labor Day weekend program, we will be working at two different sites: the site where the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers is planned (at the Montpelier Burial Ground of the Enslaved) and the other near the Montpelier Temple at a location where metal detector survey recently located several homes for enslaved families dating to the 1820s. The following is a schedule for the three day program:

  • Friday, August 30th–arrival dinner at Arlington House (6:00)
  • Saturday, August 31-Memorialization Site
    • 8:00 introductions at Archaeology Site
    • 9:00-10:00 tour of Montpelier Burial Ground
    • 10:30-2:00 Excavations
    • 2:00-4:00 Artifact Handling Session
  • Sunday, Sept 1-Temple Site of Enslaved Homes
    • 8:00-9:00 Tour of Main House Grounds
    • 9:30-2:00 Excavations at Temple Site (homes of enslaved families)
    • 2:00-3:00 Tour of Sites on Route 20
    • 4:00-Wine Tasting at Site of New Archaeology Lab (Sweet Vines hosting)
  • Monday, Sept 2-Processing Artifacts at the Lab
    • 8:00-9:00 Tour of Home Farm
    • 9:30-10:15 Processing artifacts at the Archaeology Lab
    • 10:30-2:00 Excavations/Archaeology Lab–participant choice
    • 2:00 Closing Reception at Lewis Hall

Week Long Excavations

The Archaeology Excavation Expedition is Montpelier’s most popular week-long participatory program. This is a week-long, hands-on educational experience in which you will work side-by-side with professional archaeologists on actual archaeological research sites on the Montpelier property! Learn the techniques and processes of archaeology while contributing to the discovery and preservation of history. In addition to the field experience, you will spend a day with the Archaeology Lab, where you will be introduced to the post-excavation analysis of archaeological materials excavated from dig sites on the property!

Archaeology of Memorialization

The 2024 excavation season will focus on the Archaeology of Memorialization (as discussed in the following Story Map), where we will work to define the boundaries of the Montpelier Burial Ground of the Enslaved and build our understanding of how the ancestors of Montpelier’s descendant community memorialized their loved ones in this sacred space. We are working closely with the Montpelier Descendants Committee (MDC) in all aspects of these surveys and excavations. The continued archaeological surveys and excavations at the Montpelier Burial Ground of the Enslaved will help The Montpelier Foundation and the MDC build a memorial to honor the legacy of their ancestors.

The archaeological work that students will be involved in is aimed at serving the larger goals of memorialization. The archaeology of memorialization aims to do the following:

  1. Understand the extent of the burial ground and location of burials to protect those burials and prevent any disturbance of human remains during the landscape restoration process
  2. Explore the evidence of how the enslaved and their descendants commemorated and honored that space
  3. Restore the landscape of the burial ground, and honor those buried there.

The excavations associated with memorialization are about understanding the landscape, and will NOT include the excavation of burials or human remains. The protection of human remains is central to this project and the interests of the MDC.

Costs and Deposit

Cost: $950.00 for the weekend

Deposit: $300.00

We have payment options– a non-refundable deposit is all you need to reserve your space on one of our programs!

Note: Descendants and African-American community members are welcome to attend at no cost

Other Upcoming Programs

Learn more about our other programs.

If you have any questions, please email:



Aug 30, 2024 - Sep 02, 2024


All Day


James Madison's Montpelier
James Madison's Montpelier
11350 Constitution Highway, Montpelier Station, VA 22957
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