Research & Collections

Discovery, Restoration, and Interpretation

Archaeology serves a critical role in our ability to restore and interpret Montpelier.  The archaeological record helps us locate slave quarters, understand how the landscape around the mansion was built, and how changes to the plantation were made throughout the decades.  

Well-Preserved Archaeological Deposits

What makes the Montpelier record unique is how well preserved the archaeological deposits are.  Throughout the 20th century, almost of all of the Madison-era sites were never plowed or disturbed, leaving an incredibly detailed archaeological record for us to discover. To explore some of the sites we have located across the property, click here.

Hands-On Archaeology

Archaeological research is not only used to reconstruct the Montpelier plantation, it also provides an opportunity to engage visitors in learning and hands-on experiences. During the dig season, both the site and the lab are open to the public, and throughout the year, we host one-week programs in which the public can participate in helping us uncover the Madison past. In addition, during the summer months, we host close to 50 university students in field schools and intern programs.  In any given year, we have more than 100 participants who make Montpelier their second home! To learn more about our public programs, click here.

To follow the day-to-day finds at the archaeology site and in the lab, visit our blog and our Google+ page.

Archaeologists recording profile in unit cutting into 18th Century blacksmith deposits that underly the Temple built in 1811.