Wye House: Seven Years of Archaeology

Following these two weeks of blogging by our field school students and staff and before completing our final week of excavations, it is appropriate to refresh everyone of our work at Wye House. Here is a condensed version of our time at Wye House.

Source: Kate Deeley

Excavations of the Middle Building, 2010. Source: Kate Deeley

In 2004, Mrs. R. Carmichael Tilghman offered our project the opportunity to excavate on the property. The request was for us to explore the lives of the enslaved on this plantation, which today bears no visible above-ground signature of its existence. This meant that our work would focus on the area of land known as the “Long Green” where the majority of the enslaved and the overseers lived. In addition to this, Archaeology in Annapolis also approached the nearby community of Unionville, which was established by eighteen individuals once enslaved at Wye House who had returned after fighting in the Union Army. So beyond providing a more complex and diverse narrative of Wye House, the community members were most interested in wanting to understand the daily lives of the enslaved and how they practiced spirituality.

Our research questions became:

  • How did the Lloyds help the slaves (or fail to help them) achieve freedom?
  • What were the spiritual practices of the slaves like?
  • How did the Wye House slaves live on a day-to-day basis?
  • What was family life like at the Long Green?

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