Archaeology Programs

Research & Collections

At Montpelier, YOU can discover the past.

The Montpelier Archaeology Department has a number of opportunities for you to participate in discovering and interpreting the lives of those who lived and worked at James Madison's Montpelier. From the public participating in week long programs to volunteering on weekends to university field schools, there are opportunities for individuals from all ages and walks of life.

LEARN Archaeology Expedition Programs

We are one of the only departments in the country that provides week long opportunities for the public to work side-by-side with archaeologists on excavations. Since 2006, our Expedition Programs have made the public first, giving them a chance to experience every element of the archaeological process, from locating sites to excavating to analysis and reconstruction. We have an opportunity for everyone (click on links below for schedule and more information:

Locate (Metal Detecting Expeditions): These expeditions are for Metal Detectorists looking to learn about archaeology and to detect on Montpelier's property! (Click here to Sign Up!)

Excavate (Excavation Expeditions): Work side-by-side with our staff, excavating, sifting, and digging on Montpelier's property to uncover James Madison's past! (Click here to sign up!)

Analyse (Lab Analysis Expeditions): Analyze the ceramics we uncover in the field through identification and mending, and learn about iron conservation with our lab staff. (Click here to sign up!)

Reconstruct (Timber Frame Workshop Expedition): Help us reconstruct the slave quarters in the South Yard. Spend the week learning timber-framing techniques using period tools! Click here to sign up!)

Visit the LEARN Archaeology Expedition Program website for the schedule and more details.

Montpelier Archaeology Field School

Since 1987, Montpelier has hosted archaeology fields schools, training college students in archaeological methods. Currently, our department runs two four-week field schools each summer, accredited through James Madison University and SUNY-Plattsburgh. To learn more, visit our Field School webpage.

Montpelier Archaeology Internships

Each year, we have 3-4 interns working and learning with our staff. Chosen from attendees at our field school, Archaeology Interns receive hands-on training in archaeological field methods, work alongside the public in our Expedition Programs, and gain experience in lab methods, database management, and research. You can learn more about our Internships here.


Our Department would be nothing without our lab volunteers. Coming mostly from the local area, volunteers provide a unique range of skillsets to our department, helping our lab staff process artifacts and keep the archaeology lab in working order. If you're interested in volunteering, learn more here.

For more information about how to participate in this program, please contact Matthew Reeves, Director of Archaeology and Landscape Restoration, at or (540) 672-2728 x 161.

2016 Excavation Expedition Schedule

  • Session #1: March 20-25
  • Session #3: April 24-29
  • Session #4: July 24-29 (teacher program)
  • Session #5: July 31-Aug 5
  • Session #6: August 7-12
  • Session #7: September 4-9
  • Session #8: September 18-23
  • Session #9: October 2-7
  • Session #10: October 16-21

For more information about how to participate in this program, please contact Matthew Reeves, Director of Archaeology and Landscape Restoration, at or (540) 672-2728 x 161.



Archaeology Expedition member filling out paper work during dig.

Expeditions members digging up a ceramic artifact.