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2016 April 30

Field Notes from Herring Run: What did we learn from an amazing week of excavations?

Thanks to Lisa Kraus and Jason Shellenhamer for this final update from the 2016 field season for the Herring Run Archaeology Project. You can find their updates on our blog, the project website, and on Facebook.

2016 April 30
2016 April 30

As we filled all our test units in yesterday, we were discussing all the things we’ve learned so far from our amazing week of excavations. Here are some highlights:

  1. We have the most incredible volunteers. This was an awful lot of hard work, and you guys were all so wonderful. We cannot do this without you, and we cannot thank you enough.
  2. The early Broad family occupation (1680-1742) is intact, and this is indeed where their house was located! We didn’t know this for sure until this week, and this is a huge discovery—the earliest and best-documented historic site in Baltimore City and County!
  3. We have significant evidence that the enslaved women and men who worked in the Eutaw manor house lived in the basement. We’ve discovered two probable hearths that would have provided heat and cooking fires, a subfloor pit that was used for food storage, and evidence of a laundry where Venus Tilghman worked. Finding evidence that relates specifically to Venus and Jeremiah Tilghman and the other enslaved people who made life at Eutaw possible has always been one of the major goals of the project.
  4. The Eutaw house had a tiled roof, decorative marble flourishes (a mantle or even a marble entryway), and elaborate window hardware.
  5. The house also had a finished basement! Many of the stone walls we uncovered this year still had plaster attached.
  6. In the yard, a path paved with river cobbles and pebbles led to the house, and much of the material excavated from the cellar during the house’s construction was used to build a terrace that surrounds the hill where the house was situated.

We also have plenty of new questions to guide our future work. So thank you again to all our volunteers, visitors and supporters for another successful year!

2016 April 30
2016 April 30
2016 April 30
2016 April 30
2016 April 28

Field Notes from Herring Run: What can you learn from a builder’s trench?

Thanks to Lisa Kraus and Jason Shellenhamer for this update from day six and day seven of the Herring Run Archaeology Project. You can find their updates on our blog, the project website, and on Facebook. You can also subscribe to the project email list to read these posts in your inbox.

2016 April 29
2016 April 29

We’ve continued working on both the Eutaw manor house and the earlier part of the site over the last two days, and we’ve learned a great deal in a very short period of time.

In the manor house, we discovered a mysterious pit near the southwest corner of the foundation that contained two complete wine bottles and several pieces of eggshell.

2016 April 29
2016 April 29

In the northeast corner, we’ve identified a builder’s trench. This may not sound very exciting, but it’s a significant find: the builder’s trench usually contains only artifacts that date to the time of a building’s construction, which allows us to put a firm date on a structure. This builder’s trench contains artifacts identical to those we’ve found in the earliest part of the site, where the Broad family lived from circa 1680 to 1740! This reveals two important facts: the first is that the Broads may have lived where the Eutaw manor house once stood, and that their home was displaced when Eutaw was built. It also allows us to positively, indisputably identify the Eutaw manor house as the building that was present from the 1760s until 1865—no later house took its place.

2016 April 29
2016 April 29

In the earlier part of the site, we’ve identified a trash midden containing domestic trash dating to the time of the Broad occupation – 1680 to 1740. This has revealed important new clues about life in the early colonial period in the Baltimore area – a time period about which we know very, very little. Amidst a truly huge number of oyster shells, we found a delicate china teacup, a Chinese porcelain bowl, numerous pieces of stoneware tankards and jugs, wine bottle glass, and clay pipe stems.

2016 April 29
2016 April 29

Tomorrow is our public day, and the last day for excavation at this tremendously important site! We hope to see you at the Archaeology Open House tomorrow, April 30!

2016 April 29
2016 April 29
2016 April 27

Field Notes from Herring Run: Uncovering a flagstone floor and a bunch of buttons

Thanks to Lisa Kraus and Jason Shellenhamer for this update from day 5 of the Herring Run Archaeology Project. You can find their updates on our blog, the project website, and on Facebook. You can also subscribe to the project email list to read these posts in your inbox.

2016 April 27
2016 April 27

Today we passed the halfway point of the 2016 field season, and the amazing discoveries continue. Building on the success from yesterday, we continued to explore the location of the earliest European occupation of the site.

2016 April 27
2016 April 27

We opened several more test units and, while we have not yet discovered any foundations or structural remains of the circa 1690 home of the Broad family, we continue to find the traces of their presence through the artifacts they left behind. The amazing find from that portion of the site was a beautiful french gunflint discovered by volunteers Ilka and Rosa.

2016 April 27
2016 April 27

Back at Eutaw House, we continue to complete excavating several unfinished units with the house’s cellar. Today we completed a unit near the northeast corner of the house where we discovered a large collection of bricks on Saturday. During the excavation today, we recovered a large collection of clothing and other personal items including beads, jewelry, and buttons of every make and type: bone, shell, glass, copper and iron. We also found a Belgian one cent piece that dates to 1845 and a pipe stem manufactured by Jan Prince the Netherlands from around the same time period.

2016 April 27
2016 April 27

At the bottom of the unit, we made yet another interesting discovery, a flagstone floor! This is the only section of the house to have a built floor. All other areas of the cellar contained only a dirt and bedrock bottom. The presence of the abundant brick, stone floor and variety of buttons leads us to think that this portion of the house may have served as the Eutaw house’s laundry and the workplace of several of the family’s enslaved men and women including Venus Tilghman.

2016 April 27
2016 April 27
Artifacts from the Herring Run Archaeology Project, 2016 April 26.

Field Notes from Herring Run: Traces of the earliest history of Eutaw Manor

Thanks to Lisa Kraus and Jason Shellenhamer for this update from day 4 of the Herring Run Archaeology Project. You can find their updates on our blog, the project website, and on Facebook. You can also subscribe to the project email list to read these posts in your inbox.

2016 April 26
Jason Shellenhamer. 2016 April 26

Today was a very exciting day! Up at the manor house, we identified a new architectural feature—a possible gravel pathway—which may help us answer one of our more pressing questions: which way did the house face? In the Peale painting of William Smith and his grandson, the house appears to face west, but it is difficult to tell. With this new feature and other clues, we hope to piece together a more complete picture of the house and grounds.

2016 April 26
2016 April 26

In other news: from the very beginning, we’ve found traces of an earlier occupation at the site, and we know that John Broad and his family occupied from 1690 (and likely earlier) through the 1740s. Today, we’ve finally found intact deposits associated only with this earlier occupation!

2016 April 26
2016 April 26

We know very, very little about life in this region at that time, so this is a tremendous discovery—and this makes Eutaw the earliest historical archaeological site in Baltimore City to date!

2016 April 26
2016 April 26
Photograph by Jason Shellenhamer.

Field Notes from Herring Run: Reconstructing the rooms in the farm house

Thanks to Lisa Kraus and Jason Shellenhamer for this update from day 3 of the Herring Run Archaeology Project dig. You can find their updates on our blog, the project website, and on Facebook. You can also subscribe to the project email list to read these posts in your inbox.

Photograph by Jason Shellenhamer.
Photograph by Jason Shellenhamer.

The work at Eutaw continues on Day 3 of our second field season. By the end of the day we completed excavation in three new areas on the perimeter and interior of the former plantation dwelling. Testing in all the units within the house’s former cellar continue to produce similar artifacts that one might expect from a house that burnt down in 1865 such as nails, brick, mortar.

However, each area we explore in the house also produced several distinct groups of artifacts that are not found in other areas. These subtle, yet important distinctions have allowed us to start a preliminary reconstruction of the location and uses of various rooms within the former farm house.

Photograph by Jason Shellenhamer.
Photograph by Jason Shellenhamer.

For instance, all of the expensive white, gold leaf porcelain dinner plates and tea service have been found near the northwest corner of the home, but those same artifacts are absent elsewhere in the house. Given that a dinner party occurred at the time of the house fire, it seems likely that the presence of those ceramics in that area alone may suggest the location of the family’s formal dining room, or at at the very least a pantry where the family kept their formal sets of dinner service.

Photograph by Jason Shellenhamer.
Photograph by Jason Shellenhamer.

Other locations we explored so far provided other insights into the uses of other areas of the home, including the formal front entrance, kitchens, and side entrances.

Photograph by Jason Shellenhamer.
Photograph by Jason Shellenhamer.