Dave Brown and Thane Harpole, co-directors of the Fairfield Foundation, will discuss archaeological excavations at New Quarter Park during the Wednesday, September 26, meeting of the Historic Triangle Chapter, Archeological Society of Virginia. The meeting will be held at 7 pm in the Community Room at Riverside Doctors' Hospital Williamsburg, 1500 Commonwealth Avenue.
The Fairfield Foundation, named for the organization's Fairfield plantation site in Gloucester, Virginia, located across the York River from New Quarter Park, is a not-for-profit organization focused on hands-on public engagement with archaeology, education, and preservation. Fairfield manor was built in 1694 by Lewis Burwell II, who inherited property (today's Cheatham Annex area) in York county. When York County and the Fairfield Foundation partnered to offer twice-annual 2-day public archaeology programs at New Quarter Park in 2013, Brown and Harpole were especially interested in the Burwell family connection to the property. But archaeological discoveries revealed a broader picture of previous occupations, both prehistoric and colonial.
In 2015, the identification of the cellar of a substantial brick dwelling with plaster walls suggested that people of means lived in the manor. Subsequent research found the 1652 patentee to be Robert Booth. Colonial records point to his descendant Ellyson Armistead, early York County sheriff and justice of the peace, living there. Building materials, foundation features, ceramics, glass, metal, bone, and shell artifacts tell the story of the Armistead's lifestyle, which included reliance on enslaved people for planting, harvesting, raising livestock, cooking, and work in the home. In 1777, the last Booth-Armistead descendants, John Tyler and his wife, Mary Marot Armistead, sold the property to Nathaniel Burwell of Carter's Grove, whose great-grandfather had established a neighboring plantation quarter called New Quarter, excavated by Navy Archaeologist on Cheatham Annex in 2007. Free black tenants occupied houses on the park property during and after Burwell's ownership until they abandoned or were removed from the property when purchased by DuPont for a shell-loading plant in 1916.
Brown and Harpole met as students at the College of William and Mary, where they earned BA degrees in Anthropology. Brown earned an MA in History/Historical Archaeology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and a Ph.D. in American History from the College of William and Mary. In addition to the not-for-profit Fairfield Foundation, they also co-own DATA Investigations LLC, a for-profit cultural resource management firm that works with local governments, private property owners, and businesses to assist with historic preservation, archaeology, and public education initiatives. Brown and Harpole are founding members of the Werowocomoco Research Group, which directs research at the site of the Powhatan paramount chiefdom at the time of European settlement at Jamestown. Dr. Brown is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of History at the College of William and Mary, working with the National Institute for American History and Democracy.
The Historic Triangle Chapter of the Archeological Society of Virginia serves the greater Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown area. For more information, contact Chris McDaid, Chapter President, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (757) 878-7365.
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