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May 22, 2009

New Historic Area archaelogoy seeks evidence of main house at Ravenscroft site burned in 1896

Colonial Williamsburg guests are encouraged to visit new archaeological excavations at the Ravenscroft site in the Historic Area beginning June 2.

This summer’s dig seeks to uncover evidence of the 18th-century site’s main house as well as an outbuilding depicted on the 1782 Frenchman’s map. The house is believed to remain standing until 1896 when it was consumed in a large fire.

Colonial Williamsburg archaeologists, including student participants in the joint Colonial Williamsburg/College of William and Mary Archaeological Field School, are investigating the site named for one of the property’s first owners, Thomas Ravenscroft. Among the people linked to the site in the years preceding the Revolution include merchant John Holt, printers William Hunter and Joseph Royle, and a long list of enslaved household members.

Located at the northeast corner of Botetourt and Nicholson Streets, the archaeology site will be open to guests 9 a.m. to noon and 1 – 4 p.m. weekdays, June 2 through Aug. 6, weather and student class/exam schedules permitting. Guests may participate in hands-on activities at the dig 10 – 11:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays beginning June 8.

Colonial Williamsburg’s Department of Architectural and Archaeological Research, in cooperation with the College of William and Mary, conducts yearly archaeological field schools in colonial archaeology for graduate and undergraduate students. The department also oversees the largest colonial period archaeological collection in the United States, consisting of several million objects and fragments recovered during more than 60 years of excavation and extensive comparative historic-period faunal and archaeobotanical collections.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281