Unearthing a Slave Community

This listing expired on December 31, 2021. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Orange, VA, US

Season: February 1, 2021 to November 22, 2021

Session Dates: WEEK LONG PROGRAMS Excavation March 28- April 2 Excavation April 18-23 Excavation May 9-14 High School Week July 11-16 AITC Teacher Program July 25-30 Excavation August 8-13 Alumni Week September 12-17 October 3-8 (this program is sold out but please contact us at if you would be interested in another October program) Reconstruction Workshop October 17-22 Metal Detecting November 7-12 MONTH-LONG PROGRAMS Field School June 1- July 3 (the application process for this program has already closed, please email if interested in applying for 2022)

Application Deadline: December 1, 2021

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer

RPA Certified:
This project is an RPA certified field school

Montpelier Foundation--James Madison's Montpelier

Project Director:
Matthew Reeves, Director of Archaeology

Project Description:

Over the next several years, we will be examining a number of different archaeological sites. What makes Montpelier a wonderful property for surveys and excavations is its relative undisturbed condition. All of the sites we excavate have never been plowed–and most were abandoned in the 1840s, leaving the archaeological features in pristine condition.

This season we will be excavating the Blacksmith Shop complex at the Madison plantation.  All of our current projects are part of a larger effort to interpret and reconstruct the lives of the enslaved community so it can be accessed by visitors.

The LEARN Archaeology Expedition program has been operating at Montpelier for a decade-and-a-half, with many of the same volunteers returning year after year. We are, however, keen to add new faces to the program. All of the scheduled programs are designed to give participants actual excavation experience on an archaeological site working side-by-side with trained professional archaeologists. We have a staff of six archaeologists who work with participants both in the lab and in the field, which means you have personal interaction with archaeological staff and this allows you to work on sensitive features, artifacts, and deposits that normally one would not get to handle. You are treated as a member of the research team and we step you through the entire excavation process. While you are here at Montpelier, you will be engaged in lectures, and take tours of various archaeological sites on the property.

You can learn about all of our LEARN Archaeology Expeditions at the following link.

We also host a month-long university archaeology field school.  For more information on this, please see our field school web page.

For more information contact Matthew Reeves or Sarah Lee Hall at

Period(s) of Occupation: Colonial and federal period

Historical archaeology excavation at slave quarter sites. Participants live on historic Montpelier grounds.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 1 week

Minimum Age: 12

Experience Required: none. Participants living on the property who are under 18 years old need an accompanying guardian or parent. Participants under the age of 16 need to be accompanied by a guardian or adult.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Email us at for housing options.

Academic Credit:
1 credits offered by James Madison University State University of New York Plattsburgh. Tuition is $200 per credit .

Contact Information:

Matthew Reeves

PO Box 67

Montpelier Station




Phone: 540-672-2728 x161

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