Ashcomb’s Quarter is located on a bluff twenty feet above the Patuxent River in Calvert County, Maryland. The site is part of the Solomons Naval Recreation Center (SNRC). There are archeological remains representing an early eighteenth-century occupation as well as a prehistoric period occupation (Catts et al. 1999:1, 169, 177, 209).
Ashcomb’s Quarter was identified in 1994 during a Phase I survey of the SNRC. A Phase II survey was conducted in 1996, which confirmed a colonial period occupation as well as a prehistoric component. The site was determined to be eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. Phase III excavation of 18CV362 was conducted in compliance with Section 106 in advance of Naval plans to stabilize the riverbank (Catts et al. 1999:1, 39).
Ashcomb’s Quarter was part of a seventy-five acre parcel patented in 1651 and called Compton. By 1684, the property was owned by John Ashcomb and remained in his family until 1745, when Daniel Rawlings purchased a tract of land that included 18CV362 (Catts et al. 1999:57-59).
The Compton parcel, as well as neighboring tracts, were highly cultivated and remained so until twentieth century. The first half of the twentieth century show a commercial use of the area in and around 18CV362 (Catts et al. 1999:59).
The United States Navy purchased the property at the start of the Second World War and owns the property today (Catts et al. 1999:59).
Excavation history, procedure, and methods
Ashcomb's Quarter was discovered during a systematic shovel test survey of the SNRC. Shovel test pits were laid out at 25-foot intervals. Plowzone soils were identified in the eastern and central portions of the site,while a ravine occupied the western portion (Catts et al. 1999:39).
A Phase II survey was conducted in 1996 and consisted of ten 5-x-5 foot units. A prehistoric component was identified beneath the buried soils of the ravine. The test unit, where the prehistoric component was located, was re-excavated during the Phase III. The profile was re-mapped and the unit was excavated further. Additional excavation led to the discovery of a prehistoric feature containing human remains. The discovery of a human mandible as well as other remains led to a cessation of excavation at 18CV362 (Catts et al. 1999:39, 67, 182).
The Phase III survey of 18CV362 consisted of thirty-five 5-x-5 foot units as well as two test trenches. The squares were excavated by hand and screened through ¼-inch hardware cloth. Following the excavation of the plowzone units, four areas were mechanically stripped by a gradall; three to look for historic features and one for prehistoric (Catts et al. 1999:43).
Of sixty-seven features identified and mapped, thirty-six were excavated. Three post-in-ground structures, two trash pits, and a large, historic shell midden were identified (Catts et al. 1999:67).
Summary of research and analysis
Due to the lack of subfloor pits within the post-in-ground structures, all of them are interpreted as outbuildings. It is possible that the dwelling for 18CV362 was located near the shell midden but has since eroded into the Patuxent River (Catts et al. 1999:209).
Based on the artifact assemblage, it isn’t clear whether 18CV362 was occupied by enslaved Africans, indentured servants, or a combination. What is clear is that the posts for the buildings were not repaired, suggesting a relatively short site occupation (Catts et al. 1999:209).
The prehistoric component of 18CV362 shows evidence of occupation dating from the Late Archaic up to the Contact period (Catts et al. 1999: 209-210).