Unit 74 is located furthest Southeast on the South Long Green at the Why House Plantation. The primary goal of our unit -along with the four others on the South Long Green- is to uncover remains of an old slave quarter that is theorized to have been built there in the 18th Century. During our three week stay at Wye House our excavations will include remains from the brick piers that would have supported the building, any existing part of the foundation or remnants from the building itself including structural remains and personal belongings from the inhabitants of the quarters.
Over the past two weeks we have been working at Wye House, Unit 74 has been fortunate enough to unearth a few of these important indicators as evidence of this pre-existing slave quarter. After we lifted up the top most level consisting of sod, we first saw a moderately thick dark brown loamy type of soil. Only a short time into digging through this material, we came upon our first exposed bricks. As we continued to dig through this level, we exposed more and more bricks spanning across the whole of out unit. We had discovered a fully intact brick wall! If you can imagine a vertical brick wall being pulled down, that is what we were seeing with the bricks on the West-side remaining almost perfectly mortared together and the ones at the East-wall more spread out from the force of the fall. The wall was made up of a pattern of stretchers and headers two bricks deep. This means they were placed so both the long flat side was facing outwards as well as the smaller head of the brick. There are three customary ways to lay brick: Common bond contains rows of all stretchers with headers on both sides; English bond contains alternating rows of stretchers and headers; and Flemish bond contains rows of both headers and stretchers alternating. We believe our wall of bricks to have a Common bond.
Finding this wall is an extraordinary discovery! This wall, facing the marsh would have been a part of the back of the slave quarter. We also know that it fell to the outside of the quarter meaning the two units excavating directly west of Unit 74 are digging inside the torn down quarter. Personally, one of the most exciting parts about this finding and all the other artifacts we have discovered is the fact that we are the first people in over 150 years to see and touch this brick wall.
Archaeology is all about uncovering artifacts and using them to piece together narrations of the past. I hope the discovery of this brick wall from the slave quarter will help give answers to difficult questions surrounding their daily life style.