The Stable Quarter Complex, Spring 2010: Shovel-test and Resistivity-meter Surveys

Abstract: In March and April of 2010, the Archaeology Department of The Montpelier Foundation conducted survey work in an area believed to have been the former location of a Madison-era stable and a domicile where enslaved individuals resided. The inhabitants of this house potentially worked at the nearby stable or garden. The location of the stable is known from an 1837 insurance map, while the nearby domicile was discovered through archaeological investigations in the 1990s. Currently, the survey area is located north of the Visitor Center and west of the Annie duPont Formal Garden. This archaeology project is designated Stable Quarter Complex 2010 Survey, and is considered to be a component of the Montpelier Mansion archaeological site, designated 44OR-249. The Spring 2010 survey was undertaken as an initial step of a long-term research project. This project is intended to include eventual large scale excavations in several areas related to the Madison-era plantation. The overarching goal of the research plan, in brief, includes a comparison of the houses of domestic workers, field workers, and workers living in the intermediate area of the stable. The plan also includes investigations of related structures and work areas, such as the stable and smokehouses. Uncovering information about the different homes and work areas of enslaved individuals will allow greater insight into the varied lifeways and experiences of the 19th-century African-American community at Montpelier. Furthermore, determining the precise locations and dimensions of the Stable Quarter Complex and South Yard structures will allow installation of a visitor path between the Visitor Center and Mansion. This path will allow guests to interact with one of the most significant areas of the Madison-era plantation. During the Spring 2010 survey of the project area, artifact concentrations and sub-surface anomalies were detected using shovel-testing and resistivity meter survey. Results of the survey work indicated one previously unknown area of artifact concentrations, believed to represent the Madison-era stable. Resistivity meter survey indicated one notable concentration of stones, believed to represent a cobbled surface, as well as a potential 19th-century fence-line. This report documents the findings of the Spring 2010 Stable Quarter Complex archaeological survey project. Results indicated in this report should be considered to be preliminary. Further archaeological investigation is needed to test any hypotheses presented here, so that a more accurate understanding may be achieved.