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Fairfield Foundation Presentation: Urbanna Archaeology Dig

March 21 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


The Middlesex County Museum and Historical Society will present an online lecture.by Dr. David A. Brown on Sunday, March 21, at 4:00 PM. Dr. Brown’s topic will be “Archaeological Discoveries in Urbanna: the Sandwich, Gressit, and Lister Properties.” Dr. Brown, who is co-director of the Fairfield Foundation, will discuss recent archeological work done on these three historic properties.

The Fairfield Foundation’s study of Sandwich, which has been owned by members of the Montague family since 1934, has uncovered remains of the earliest lots laid out in Urbanna and of the Fort Lot, which may have held an earthen fortress that once protected the town. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) has revealed a substantial discovery related to a town lot, as well as several other curious anomalies.

The Gressitt House lies on the west side of Sandwich, next door to the Urbanna Museum. Although Fairfield Foundation’s work at the Gressitt House is still in its initial stages, recent discoveries are highlighting a substantial outbuilding in the rear of the property and a substantial collection of artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The foundation’s work at the Lister-Gobush property has been publicized recently because of the discovery of a grave, which has been investigated by the Fairfield team. Among artifacts found are examples of pottery likely related to the enslaved African American or potentially Virginia Indian populations of the early-to-mid-18th century. The design heretofore has not been recovered at any other site and may be one of the earliest examples of such pottery from the Middle Peninsula.

The Fairfield Foundation is a non-profit archaeological and historical research group in Gloucester County, Virginia. It was founded in 2000 in order to promote and involve the public in hands-on archaeological, preservation, and educational activities.

The foundation initially focused on research and outreach at Fairfield Plantation in Gloucester County, the prominent seat of the Burwell family, and home to generations of other families, both free and enslaved. It has expanded its mission to include other parts of the Middle Peninsula, has grown to include innovative, nationally-recognized educational programs, and has developed a dedicated corps of volunteers who have donated over 84,000 hours to the foundation’s endeavors.

Today the Fairfield Foundation is the preeminent archaeological research and preservation organization on the Middle Peninsula. In addition to working with the Middlesex Historical Society and Museum, the foundation works with the Gloucester Historical Society, Gloucester Genealogical Society of Virginia, the Rosewell Foundation, the Middle Peninsula Chapter of the Archaeological Society of Virginia, the Mathews County Historical Society, York County’s New Quarter Park, the Tidewater Virginia Historical Society, and many other groups, to advance the broader study, recognition, and preservation of the region’s history and historical resources.

Dr. Brown is a graduate of the College of William and Mary (B.A. in Anthropology, and Ph.D. in History) and of the University of Massachusetts at Boston (M. A. in History/Historical Archaeology). He wrote his master’s thesis on “The settlement of Abingdon Parish, Gloucester County, Virginia: land patents and archaeology, 1639-1669,” and his doctoral dissertation on “An Enslaved Landscape: the Virginia plantation at the end of the seventeenth century.”


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March 21
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Category:


Middlesex County Museum & Historical Society