It must be confessed upfront that the Spy only knew about an archaeological dig taking place in Caroline County this Memorial Day weekend because a cousin had emailed this writer from North Carolina that she was on her way to Denton to participate.
It seems like most archaeological fieldwork is well below the radar regarding public awareness. Highly dependent on volunteer labor from people who, like my cousin, are willing to drop everything and travel almost anywhere to look through piles of dirt for three days straight, these crucial historical research projects only succeed through grass-roots networks like the Archeological Society of Maryland, who sponsored the weekend program, who get the word out.
And in the case of the current project in Caroline County, a joint project of Washington College and the Maryland Historical Trust, that unique call to action was a remarkable success. Some fifty volunteers and their families gathered off of Smith Landing Road to help find the original structure of a place called Barwick’s Ordinary.
Beyond the rich archaeological findings that go along with this field session, such as pottery and coins, the aspirational goal is to conclusively document that Barwick’s was not only a popular tavern in the 18th Century but the first government seat for Caroline County. And that’s the reason that the Caroline County Historical Society asked for help to determine the authenticity of the site.
Nothing happens overnight in archaeology, but dig director, Julie Markin, an associate professor of Anthropology at Washington College, is very encouraged so far. With foundational evidence suggesting a building as large as 30 feet by 17 feet, along with samples of dishware and nails from that era, Markin is cautiously optimistic that she and her devoted volunteers may have found the true beginnings of Caroline.
The Spy ran over on Saturday morning to catch up with Julie, her hardworking students, and a large crew of men, women, and children, all of whom were having such great fun playing in the dirt.
This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Washington College please go here. For the Caroline Historical Society please go here. For the Archeological Society of Maryland please go here. For the Maryland Historical Trust please go here.