Wye House Plantation and Landscape Archaeology

The Wye House mansion

The Wye House mansion. Source: Historic American Buildings Survey

This week, our field school has begun digging at Wye House Plantation in Easton, MD, where we will be working for the next three weeks. This is not the first year the AiA program has excavated at Wye House – for the past few summers, archaeology students have been digging units at various locations of interest around the plantation.

Wye House may be best known by its inclusion in Frederick Douglass’s autobiography, as he was enslaved there for a few years when he was a young child. The plantation has an extensive history, which begins when Edward Lloyd settled the land in the mid-17th century. Wye House Plantation has been run and owned by the descendants of the Lloyd family ever since, and was active as a plantation from the 18th-19th centuries. Throughout the Lloyd’s ownership of the Wye Plantation, its landscape has undergone numerous changes due to both physical damage to the property as well as societal changes in America at the time. The original main house on the plantation burned down in 1781 and was rebuilt by Edward Lloyd the IV shortly after. Although not entirely conclusive, there is evidence that when the house was rebuilt, Lloyd changed its orientation to face the extensive “wild” and open land, as opposed to facing the industrial working side of the plantation.

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