Anthropology Field Notes

University of Delaware Anthropology Fieldwork by students and faculty

Category: Northampton Furnace Archaeology Project

Northampton Furnace, Day 4- Sept. 19

We decided to clear and uncover another foundation feature which was hiding underneath many thorny wild rose bushes.  The building is believed to be date to the period when the furnace was under operation. The building does show up on the 1843 Barney map of the Hampton Estate as a dwelling.   It was quite the task to wrangle the “Maryland jungle” away from the foundation. We started two test units at this feature to document the foundation wall and another to test inside the building.  So far the test units have a greater variety of material culture including bone, an assortment of nails and ceramic fragments, slag, coal, and glass.

19th Century material culture: nails, ceramic, coal, animal tooth

Cellar Hole of dwelling partially exposed

Laying out test unit to find structure wall

Northampton Furnace, Day 3-Sept. 13

We continued with more shovel test pits, and some of us ventured deeper into the “Maryland jungle” surveying the landscape. Through our STPs, we continued to find slag, iron nails, and glass but a few groups found a mid-nineteenth century button and a pipe stem. We also started to work on our first test unit within the stone foundation feature.

Clearing and assessing the stone foundation

Northampton Furnace, Day 2- Sept. 6th

Throughout the day, we continued with more shovel test pits on the site.  We were searching for traces of the early nineteenth and eighteenth-century landscape and dwelling features.  We have yet to find any evidence of these features but during the excavation of our STPS, we found pounds and pounds of slag and an iron strap.  During the day, one of the students located a stone foundation in the tall grass which was not on our site maps. This foundation became the location of our first test unit.

Unidentified metal band

STP of slag and coal

Northampton Furnace, Day 1- August 30th

The hot and humid day barely slowed our motivation for unearthing material culture. We began the day by hiking around the peninsula, and we analyzed features of the site including terraces, old roads, open fields, stone foundations, and a curious circular cemented stone feature. Later in the afternoon, we broke ground on our first shovel test pits. Our test pits contained material culture such as slag, iron nails, coal, glass, and ceramic fragments.

Excavating STPs to survey the landscape and better understand soil stratigraphy

Daily Hike to field site

New Maryland Project

“Maryland Jungle”

In beginning of the Fall 2019 semester, we ventured into the Maryland forest (which felt like a jungle to most), with the guidance of Professor, Dr. Adam Fracchia, for the Northampton Furnace Archaeology Project (ANTH 424). The purpose of the fieldwork is to gain a greater understanding of those who labored the furnace including slaves, indentured servants, and convicts. Throughout the semester, we will learn the fundamentals of an archaeological field survey, excavation methods including site and unit documentation, analysis, and will present our findings at the Hampton Historical Site on December 7th.

The “Maryland Jungle”: the site of the Northampton Furnace Archaeology Project

Colonel Charles Ridgley erected the Northampton Furnace on his property around 1760. The furnace produced pig iron, bar iron, and castings such as stoves and hollowwares. The  furnace supplied kettles, round shot ranging from 2 to 18 pounds, and guns and cannons of various sizes to the patriot cause in the American Revolution. By 1827, the Northampton Ironworks was no longer operating, and the land became part of a farm up until its partial inundation by the creation of Loch Raven Reservoir.   Much of the evidence of the furnace’s operation has disappeared above the ground surface.  Even the furnace stack is now largely under water in the reservoir owned and maintained by the City of Baltimore.