Beginning in early May 2021, archaeological excavation near the corner of Botetourt and Franklin Streets will explore the future site of Colonial Williamsburg’s brickyard operation. The work is expected to extend into mid-June.
The purpose of this project is to identify surviving archaeological deposits that should be avoided in establishing the new brickyard. Archaeologists will excavate 50cm by 50cm test units every 10 meters across the property, screening all soils and collecting artifacts to reveal past activities. Previous excavations indicate that this area was plowed and put under cultivation in the 19th century. This agricultural activity mixed and disturbed most of the near-surface soil layers. Deeper intrusions however, like building foundations or fencepost holes, are likely to have survived beneath the plowzone. If any large features such as these are uncovered in the small test units, we will expand the size of the unit to fully identify and record them.
The area that we will be excavating includes the backlots behind the Davenport House and the Willie Baker House. Both structures were built along Nicholson Street in the early 18th century and were occupied into the 19th century. Previous excavations in this vicinity identified 17th century (Middle Plantation) domestic use of the area, although no pre-1699 structure has been identified so far.
The Frenchman’s Map (1782) does not depict any late 18th century building foundations on these backlots, however buildings dating earlier or later may exist on the property. Early in the 20th century the James City County Training School, a segregated school for Williamsburg’s Black residents, occupied the area where the Carpenter’s yard now stands. Our excavations will likely encounter evidence of the Training School (demolished in 1940) and other associated activities tied to the Botetourt Street corridor. Like earlier archaeological deposits, these will be recorded and preserved where appropriate