Margaret Brent and Anne Arundel Excavations Unearth History

When the plan was made to redevelop Anne Arundel Hall and move Margaret Brent Hall, Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC) and the College came together to preserve the history the site holds. During the excavations, many finds were made that will have a significant impact on the overall understanding of HSMC. Chip Jackson, the Associate Vice President for Planning and Facilities said, “before we do any work, we need to understand historical resources. It is a National Historic Landmark.”

The excavation site, stretching from the current location of Margaret Brent Hall to where HSMC stands today has been carefully processed in sections by a team of archeologists since May 2010. The team consists almost entirely of St. Mary’s alumni working for HSMC. The site contains evidence of Native American, 17th, 18th, and 19th-century inhabitants.

Somewhere around Anne Arundel Hall, there once stood a 19th century plantation house, built in 1815. The archeologists have not found the remnants of actual house but they have found the brick foundations of an unidentified outbuilding, made of recycled 18th century brick. It has evidence of a cellar and a hearth.

According to Ruth Mitchell, the Senior Staff Archeologist, the most exciting thing found by the team is a 17th century trash pit, virtually untouched by the construction on Margaret Brent in the 1950’s. Among the objects found were pieces of pottery, tobacco pipes, and various domestic items. “They are great artifacts. They really help us understand what life was like in that period,” said Mitchell.

Also a rare find were four glass bottle seals, all from the same general location, which were dated and initialed. People of means used to place a custom-made seal on their glassware to mark them as their private bottles. All of the seals are dated 1767, but they have different initials. Two bottles may have belonged to James Adderton, a resident known from the area. The two other bottles cannot be connected to specific people. Patrick McKitrick, another archeologist on the site said, “it will take years of processing to analyze everything.”

The archeologists will continue to work on the site until June 2013. For more information on their work, visit http://www.aahallarchaeology.com. “There is a remarkable amount of preservation. It will contribute greatly to our understanding of the 17th century,” said Mitchell.

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