Recent Archaeology at Ellwood
By Eric Mink, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Miitary Park
Learning About Our Sites – A couple inches of snow last week did not stop archaeologists from the NPS Northeast Region Archaeology Program from spending a couple days on the Wilderness Battlefield. Archaeologists Joel Dukes and James Nyman conducted a geophysical survey of the location for a couple suspected slave quarters at Ellwood.
For years, oral tradition has suggested that some of Ellwood’s enslaved population lived in a few structures to the rear of the plantation house. Late last fall an 1866 photo of Ellwood was brought to the park’s attention. It clearly shows two structures behind the house and in the same area for the suspected slave quarters.
Joel and James used multiple non-invasive techniques to survey and map the subsurface of that section of Ellwood’s yard.
The tools used included an electromagnetic conductivity meter, magnetic gradiometer, and ground-penetrating radar. Once the data is analyzed, Joel, James and the park will have a better idea if any evidence of archaeological features survive for these structures.
Part of being good stewards of historic sites is learning from them, so that we can better protect and interpret them.