Family Archaeology Digs

Research and Collections

The Montpelier Field Expeditions are all about connections.  Usually this involves connecting bits of information together, be it tying each artifact into the broader historic tapestry of Montpelier or understanding how one archaeological site relates to another.  For the family Field Expeditions it also means connecting and, just as importantly, reconnecting with family.  If a member of your family has an interest in archaeology, history or museums, or if you're looking for a fun thing to do together as a family, the family Field Expeditions offer a fun and engaging program.

During a Family Field Expedition, you and your family will work side-by-side with professional archaeologists as they guide you through the archaeological techniques of excavation.  As part of the program you will go on "insider" tours of Montpelier's historic property and learn how archaeology contributes not only to the preservation of America's heritage, but also to understanding the forces and building blocks of modern America and constitutional self-government.

No previous excavation experience is required to participate in the program, just a passion for learning and a desire to see how archaeologists identify, excavate, and interpret past human societies and landscapes.  Either as a single event or as part of larger vacation experience, Family Field Expeditions offer a unique opportunity to work side-by-side with family members and professional archaeologists to unearth and interpret the lifelong home of James and Dolley Madison.

During the program, you will stay with your family in on-site housing that provides a place for rest and relaxation away the labors of the day.  With WiFi internet, a kitchen, private bathrooms, you can decide whether to put your feet up and watch the sunset at Montpelier, walk the beautiful Virginian countryside, or one of the many local attractions surrounding Montpelier.

Our Programs for 2015 are as follows:

  • Session #5:  August 2-7, 2015 (full)
  • Session #6:  August 9-14, 2015 (most popular for families)
  • Session #7-September 6-11, 2015
  • Session #8-September 20-25, 2015 (alumni)
  • Session #9-October 4-9, 2015
  • Session #10- October 18-23, 2015

Contact Matt Reeves Director of Archaeology and Landscape Restoration, at

Descendants of George and Polly Gilmore excavate under the floor of their ancestral home.

Mother and daughter work with Archaeology Expedition alumnus in excavating the 18th-century flanking structure in the North West Yard of the mansion.