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Excavate: Archaeology Expedition

What is an Excavation Expedition?

Here at Montpelier Archaeology, we have a passion for working with the public to discover and preserve Madison’s historic landscape. We welcome you to step inside our active excavation sites and dig beside our professional archaeology staff. Along the way, you will learn how to identify 18th and 19th century artifacts and discover what happens to this material culture after it is excavated. Our programs also include several specialty lectures and tours that are not available to a typical Montpelier visitor that will immerse you in the 18th, 19th, and 20th century history of the property. You will not just dig with us, you will learn with us.

Program Format

Week-Long, ideal for ages 12+
Anyone under 15 must be accompanied by an adult

Week-Long Programs

The week-long program begins at 6pm on Sunday and ends at 4pm on Friday. With this program, you will spend four whole days excavating our active archaeology site and an entire day with our archaeology field laboratory. You will also receive a special orientation lecture, three exclusive property tours, and access to parts of the property not open to visitors. The program fee includes a catered Welcome Dinner Sunday evening and a Farewell Reception and Graduation Ceremony Friday afternoon. In addition, participants will receive a Montpelier Welcome Bag, Montpelier Membership, a commemorative certificate, and a group photo. Participants are responsible for their own housing.

Learn With Us

Upcoming Programs

2024 Programs
Click on any of the available programs below to learn more and register:

Where will we be working?

Archaeology of Memorialization
The 2024 excavation season will focus on the Archaeology of Memorialization (as discussed in our last newsletter), 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 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 due the following:
  1. Understand the extent of the burial ground and location of burials in order to protect those burials and prevent any disturbance of human remains during the landscape restoration process.
  2. Explore the evidence for 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 is 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.

Need more time to save up?

Hold your place on one of our programs with a deposit! The deposit guarantees you a spot on the program and is non-refundable.


As the lifelong home of James Madison, Father of the Constitution and Architect of the Bill of Rights, Montpelier's mission is to communicate Madison's role in creating our modern, democratic government.