Apr 17, 2023

The North Grove Ice House at Poplar Forest

Ice houses are underground pits that stored ice or snow collected during the winter to provide chilled food and beverages throughout the year. These were common within elite society in eastern North America and western Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and were among Thomas Jefferson’s many interests. He observed ice houses in Virginia […]

Mar 13, 2023

2022 Archaeology Field School

Poplar Forest was excited to once again host its Field School in Historical Archaeology last summer through the University of Virginia. We welcomed five students who learned the skills and practices essential to historical archaeology as they complete their undergraduate degrees at a variety of schools, including George Mason, Kansas State, Wake Forest and the […]

Feb 9, 2023

Artifact Spotlight: The Toy Turtle

“What is the metal turtle in that box?” It was an unexpected question, but not the strangest one I’ve been asked as the Archaeology Laboratory Supervisor for Poplar Forest. I love this type of question, though, because trying to answer it inevitably leads me down a research rabbit hole where I learn something new or […]

Feb 9, 2023

Sink or Swim, Soil Edition

When digging, archaeologists use mesh screens that allow them to recover artifacts that are ¼-inch in diameter or larger. But what about objects that are extremely small, that fall through the screens used in the field? Archaeologists invented a technique called soil flotation to account for this potential loss of information by recovering these special […]

Feb 9, 2023

1857 Slave Dwelling Repairs

The 1857 Slave Dwelling, located only a few hundred feet east of the retreat house, often gets overshadowed by Jefferson’s architectural masterpiece. But this relatively unassuming brick structure is quite significant in its own right. As the only plantation-era laborer housing still standing on the property, it provides an important link to the history of […]

Jul 21, 2022

2022 Field School Week Six

By Brooks McCabe   It’s the sixth week and final week of Poplar Forest’s archaeology field school. This week, the students wrapped up their excavations, and each student gave a presentation on an artifact or topic of his or her choosing and how it relates to the site we worked on this summer. Of the […]

Jul 12, 2022

2022 Field School Week Five

By Nancy Williams   This week, we learned about and participated in Public Archaeology. On July 4th, many members of the public came down to the site to learn about what we have discovered. Some people were more interested in the artifacts and some with the potential features being found in the ground. We cleaned […]

Jul 7, 2022

2022 Field School Week Four

By Jackson DeWitt   Week 4 of the Poplar Forest field school was one of the most exciting yet! We started out the week by expanding two of the test pits we’d excavated into larger 5x5ft units, in an effort to explore some of the more interesting features and artifacts we’d found. In these units, […]

Jun 24, 2022

2022 Field School Week Three

By Morgan Reeder   It was a busy week for the Poplar Forest field school! We started off by taking a field trip to Monticello on Monday. We had the opportunity to sit in and listen to a lecture by Dr. Fraser Neiman, the Director of Archaeology at Monticello. We also were able to talk […]

Jun 21, 2022

2022 Field School Week Two

By Kaitlyn Holmes   In our second week here at Poplar Forest, the field school started by listening to a very important and interesting lecture on historic ceramics. After the lecture, we all went out to resume the field work on our units and to also write, map, and take photos to have as important […]

Jun 13, 2022

2022 Field School Week One

By Emma Coffey   Poplar Forest’s 2022 Archaeology Field School began this week and already students are finding incredibly interesting things. Before the students began their initial excavations, they were given a tour of the house and the archaeology lab along with a lecture on Poplar Forest’s history on Monday. Since then, they have been […]

Jul 23, 2019

Field School Week 6

By J. Brooks McCabe This was the last week for our Field School students. The students wrapped up the remaining units behind the South Tenant House. The recovered artifacts date after Jefferson’s life, such as possible iron handles, tableware and other ceramics. Along with the units at the South Tenant House, the two remaining 5×5 […]