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  • Matthew D. McKnight

Field Session Teaser - Ground Truthing Barwick's Ordinary.

It’s fitting that this year’s Field Session teaser would be in a booklet that highlights innovative technologies in Maryland archaeology. This year’s Tyler Bastian Field Session will be held at a site that went unrecorded in the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties until 2020 when such technologies made it possible for the first time to see beneath the surface of a small field in Caroline County and visualize a substantially intact colonial tavern hidden there. Working on and off over the course of two summers (2019 and 2020) MHT archaeologists, interns, and occasional outside volunteers carried out an extensive remote sensing survey on a residential lot where a property owner encountered colonial artifacts while making landscape changes. While magnetic susceptibility and fluxgate gradiometry suggested prior human modification and subsurface deposits filled with metals, the “home run” didn’t come until we applied ground penetrating radar. GPR revealed the presence of a square privy, a large rectangular cellar, and other structural features suggestive of a substantial architectural complex. Deed research and archival digging revealed that the complex was likely the home and tavern of James Barwick: caretaker at a small settlement that played an important role in Eastern Shore history as the first seat of Caroline County government from 1774 to 1790.


The GPR data (as good as it was) was still insufficient to confirm our suspicions about this field. In the fall of 2020, with assistance from ASM volunteers, locals, and Professor Julie Markin of Washington College, we opened up a handful of small units at Barwick’s. The results have been incredible: a well-preserved, artifact rich, mid-late 18th century site is present. A college field school and several public archaeology days later, there is still more to do at this important site! Come join us May 20-30, 2022 for the first Field Session on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 20 years. Watch the ASM website for details.


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