|Location:||Stratford Hall, Stratford, VA, United States|
|Occupation Dates:||Last quarter 18th/first quarter 19th century. Phasing and mean ceramic dates can be found on the Chronology page.|
Site ST116 is located on Stratford Hall Plantation, a historic estate of the Lee family along the Potomac River in Westmoreland County,
Virginia that is owned and operated as a house museum by the Robert E. Lee Memorial Association. The site’s designation stems from the convention employed in the mid-1970s survey of plantation property conducted by Fraser Neiman (1977a), then working for the Virginia Research Center for Archaeology (now the Virginia Department of Historic Resources), that resulted in ST116’s discovery. A combination of field school students from the Department of Historic Preservation at Mary Washington College and staff from the Center for Historic Preservation at the same institution conducted the site excavations during the summers of 1998, 1999, and 2000, with both groups directed by Douglas W. Sanford.
ST116 represents a small earthfast dwelling for slaves situated in a field northeast of the mansion complex, with the building located about 300 feet from the Lee family manor house. Ever since the 1930s restoration of Stratford, the field has been used as an orchard, with a 1969 Historic American Building Survey site plan referring to the field as the “old orchard.” Modern tillage of the orchard during tree re-plantings transformed ST116 into a plowzone site (Sanford 1999a). Excavations relied on both the block area method in the structure’s immediate vicinity and the systematic sampling of areas farther from the building. Recovered artifacts indicate a site date range of ca. 1770 to 1820.
Except for two plantation inventories and a series of fire insurance policies for the mansion complex, there are few records concerning the plantation’s operation and its main physical components. For example, an 1801 fire insurance policy records the two stone slave quarters within the mansion complex, but not ST116 (Sanford 1999a). There is a dearth of known documents for ST116 and much of Stratford’s landscape and history.
Excavation history, procedure, and methods
The orchard’s past uses are not well documented until the early 20th-century. Archaeological investigations indicate that Native Americans utilized the area during the Archaic and Woodland periods, followed by brick making activity in the mid-18th century. For instance, site ST115, to the southeast of ST116, contains a borrow pit backfilled with brick refuse. In the late 18th- and early 19th-century, the field contained the slave dwelling represented by ST116 and probably another quarter to the northeast, ST117. In the latter half of the 19th-century, the area became a scrub field and pasture. Restoration work in the 1930s and 1940s established ornamental plantings of fruit trees, grapevines, and boxwood, along with the reconstruction of an octagonal brick garden pavilion on the ST117 site (Sanford 1999a).
ST116 was located during the 1976-1977 survey work led by Fraser Neiman. Neiman initially conducted a Shovel Test Pit (STP) survey of the entire plantation property, using close interval (20 feet) test holes to delineate significant artifact concentrations. These artifact concentrations were further tested with small excavation units (3 x 5 feet, for example), with the initial test unit’s number serving as the designation for the site. No further archaeological study of ST116 occurred until the Mary Washington College (MWC) field school investigations.
The 1998 season involved the initial testing of the ST115 and ST116 sites, with greater emphasis placed on the latter site (Bell et al. 1998). The 1999 season focused purely on ST116 (Sanford 1999b). In contrast, the 2000 season completed the examination of ST116, implemented several test units in the site ST117 area to the northwest, and partially tested other portions of the orchard field through a systematic random sampling design utilizing 50-foot blocks (Sanford 2000). Removed soils from ST116 were dry-screened (1/4-inch mesh) only, with soil samples taken on a limited and non-systematic basis from a few features. The site, as indicated by greater artifact density, measures approximately 100 feet in diameter, although similar dating artifacts occur farther to the east and southeast.
Excavations largely relied on five-foot quadrats, except where either modern landscape features or orchard trees required units of other sizes. A total of 34 units formed the block area excavation at the earthfast building, while another 14 test units represented the systematic random sampling strategy and purposively placed units at greater distances from the building.
ST116’s stratigraphy consists of modern topsoil covering the aforementioned plowzone, beneath which survived a limited number of features, mostly those corresponding to the earthfast building that measures eight feet on a side. Four large (over two feet in diameter) postholes with postmolds of six-inch diameters represent the structure’s corners. At a later date, a brick foundation (one brick wide and of English bond) was introduced to the building’s north side, likely to repair a sagging sill. The foundation brick surround the corner posts, indicating that the northwest and northeast posts remained in place during the repair work. A wide builder’s trench feature accompanied the foundation, with the greater width indicative of the foundation’s installation beneath a standing structure. Due to plowing, no evidence of the building’s wood and mud chimney survived, although a stake-like posthole on the building’s east side could infer its former position. The building has no sub-floor pit. Other features on the site include several amorphous, shallow depressions; the remnant of a boundary ditch (oriented east-west) that is situated south of the building; and a couple planting holes or postholes in the building’s yard. The vast majority of artifacts were recovered from ST116’s plowzone contexts. For instance, other than brick fragments, there are no dateable artifacts in the building’s postholes.
Summary of research and analysis
Documentary and secondary sources provide a historic context for ST116 as part of the Lee family’s plantation system (Neiman 1977a; Sanford 1999a). During the late 18th- and early 19th-centuries, Stratford’s residents experienced the outcomes of Virginia’s newly diversified agricultural economy that centered on the shift from tobacco to wheat cultivation. The Lee family responded to these changed circumstances by both reducing the plantation’s acreage and slaveholdings, and by having slaves engage in a wider variety of tasks and trades. The wholesale nature of these changes is corroborated by architectural and archaeological evidence, for example, for the alteration and re-organization of the mansion house and the landscape of its surrounding complex. Outlying farm quarters were sold off and some remaining slaves were consolidated and re-located to a series of newly established quarters closer to the Stratford mansion. Apparently site ST116 represents one of these quarters and its placement just outside the mansion complex may be reflected in the building’s orientation (NW-SE) that doesn’t correspond to the north-south, east-west alignment of the brick and stone buildings within the mansion complex.
Artifact and field information from ST116 had not been analyzed systematically until its entry into the DAACS system at the end of 2002. Using this data, a Mean Ceramic Date of 1781 was generated (see Chronology). Initial artifact analyses that compare ST116 with slave sites at Monticello indicate that ST116 likely contained one enslaved household and represents a lifestyle more in keeping with a farm quarter wherein residents had less access to marketed resources (Arendt et al. 2003; Galle and Neiman 2003; Sanford 2003). The building’s small size and lack of a sub-floor pit correspond with Neiman’s (1998) hypothesis of decreasing quarter size and pit frequency for late 18th-century slave dwellings.
Douglas W. Sanford
Mary Washington College
Things you need to know about 44ST116 before you use the data:
- Measurements are in feet and tenths of feet.
The original excavators of the ST116 site assigned numbers to individual features. ST116 feature numbers are composed of two numbers separated by a decimal point, the year in which the feature was excavated (i.e. 1999) and a number assigned sequentially throughout the excavation season. The ST116 feature number 99.01 is read to mean the first feature of the 1999 excavation season. Since ST116 feature numbers were assigned by the excavator, they do not have a F-prefix as DAACS-assigned feature numbers do.
Feature groups are sets of features whose spatial arrangements indicate they were part of a single structure (e.g. structural postholes, subfloor pits, and hearth) or landscape element (e.g. postholes that comprise a fenceline). Feature Groups assigned by DAACS have a FG-prefix, which precedes the number (i.e. FG01 equals Feature Group 1). DAACS assigned feature groups to ST116 features.
|98.05||Posthole||88H, 95H, 94H, 99H|
|98.16||Trench, builder’s||98K, 98M, 98N, 98Q, 98R, 165L, 165G, 165K, 165N, 98J, 98P, 98G1, 98G2, 98Y, 151XX, 151K, 151G, 151J, 162G, 165P, 165Q, 165R, 165S, 162K, 162L, 151L, 151M, 98V, 98W, 98S, 173G, 181G, 98X, 98T, 151H2|
|98.25 in 98.16||Posthole||98L|
|98.46 in 98.16||Posthole||98AB, 98AA|
|99.13||Posthole||161J, 161L, 161K|
|99.37||Posthole||165U, 162H, 162J|
|99.23||Ditch, other||172G, 167J|
|00.10||Posthole||197D, 197C, 197E, 197L|
|98.03||Tree hole||97J, 87H, 87H1, 87H2|
|99.01||Planting Hole||160B, 160C|
|99.10||Previous Archaeology||166F, 161F|
|99.12||Tree hole||173F, 161H|
|99.25||Planting Hole||165H, 169F|
|99.29||Planting Hole||170H, 170J|
Because none of the features at ST116 contained more than 5 ceramic sherds, DAACS was unable to produce a seriation-based chronology for the site (see Neiman, Galle, and Wheeler 2003 for technical details). However, the site-wide Mean Ceramic Date and TPQp90 values point to the occupation’s temporal placement in the last several decades of the 18th-century. The TPQ of 1830 represents a few stray sherds from later occupation elsewhere in the vicinity.
ST116 Site Phases
A Seriation Chronology for ST116
The following table presents a seriation chronology for the ST116 site. We use the indefinite article to signify that it is not the only chronology possible, nor the best. DAACS encourages users of Archive data to help explore improvements.
ST116 Harris Matrix
The Harris Matrix summarizes stratigraphic relationships among excavated contexts and groups of contexts that DAACS staff has identified as part of the same stratigraphic group. Stratigraphic groups and contexts are represented as boxes, while lines connecting them represent temporal relationships implied by the site’s stratification, as recorded by the site’s excavators (Harris 1979).
Stratigraphic groups, which represent multiple contexts, are identified on the diagram by their numeric designations (e.g. SG05), followed by the original excavator’s descriptions of them (e.g. “Plowzone”). Contexts that could not be assigned to stratigraphic groups are identified by their individual context numbers.
Boxes with color fill represent contexts and stratigraphic groups with ceramic assemblages large enough to be included in the DAACS seriation of the site (see Chronology). Their seriation-based phase assignments are denoted by different colors, to facilitate evaluation of the agreement between the stratigraphic and seriation chronologies. Grey boxes represent contexts that were not included in the seriation because of small ceramic samples.
This Harris Matrix is based on data on stratigraphic relationships recorded among contexts in the DAACS database. It was drawn with the ArchEd application. See http://www.ads.tuwien.ac.at/arched/index.html.
See ST116 Chronology for stratigraphic and phase information.
For a printable version, download the Harris Matrix [41.27 KB PDF].
Composite excavator’s plan compiled by DAACS from original field drawings.
Arendt, Beatrix , Fraser D. Neiman , and Jillian E. Galle
2003 Model Consumers? Clues to Ceramic Acquisition at Slave Quarter Sites in the Greater Chesapeake. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Bell, Alison K., Michael Smith , Kerri Saige Barile , and Douglas W. Sanford
1998 Archaeology at Stratford: The Old Orchard Field, The 1998 Field School Season. Unpublished manuscript on file at the Center for Historic Preservation, Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Galle, Jillian E., and Fraser D. Neiman
2003 Patterns of Tea and Tableware Consumption of Late Eighteenth-Century Slave Quarter Sites. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Harris, Edward C.
1979 Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. Academic Press, London, England.
Neiman, Fraser D., Jillian E. Galle , and Derek Wheeler
2003 Chronological Inference and DAACS. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Neiman, Fraser D.
1977a An Archaeological Survey of Stratford Plantation, Westmoreland County, Virginia. Submitted to the Virginia Research Center for Archaeology, Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission. Unpublished manuscript on file with the Robert E. Lee Memorial Association, Stratford, Virginia.
Sanford, Douglas W.
2000 Archaeology at Stratford: The Old Orchard Field (3rd Season), The 2000 Field School Season. Unpublished manuscript on file with the Center for Historic Preservation, Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Sanford, Douglas W.
2003 The Building in the Old Orchard at Stratford: A Test Case for the Digital Archaeological Archive of Chesapeake Slavery. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island.
Sanford, Douglas W.
1999a Landscape, Change, and Community at Stratford Hall Plantation: An Archaeological and Cultural Perspective., Quarterly Bulletin of the Archeological Society of Virginia In Quarterly Bulletin of the Archeological Society of Virginia 54(1): 2-19.
Sanford, Douglas W.
1999b Archaeology at Stratford: The Old Orchard Field (2nd Season) – The 1999 Field School Season. Unpublished manuscript on file with the Center for Historic Preservation, Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, Virginia.