Archeology at Monocacy

A worker clears dirt from a row of stones in an archeology dig.
A Monocacy archeologist uncovers a previously unrecorded structure on the Best Farm.

Why Archeology?

Monocacy National Battlefield commemorates the historic events of the Civil War and the battle that was fought at Monocacy Junction on July 9, 1864. The landscape has many other stories to tell, however -- a rich and diverse history that spans over 10,000 years. That history cannot be easily seen above ground; indeed, many of the clues to the landscape of the past are buried underground. That's where archeologists come in.

Since 2001, archeologists from the National Park Service and the University of Maryland have teamed to investigate the interesting and varied cultural landscape that comprises Monocacy National Battlefield.


Archeology at Monocacy

Archeological research at Monocacy helps park personnel identify the kinds of archeological resources that are present at the park to aid in their appropriate management, protection, and interpretation. Archeology can also help us understand and experience aspects of history that appear only incidentally in the historic record, if at all.

Monocacy National Battlefield is responsible for preserving the many historic buildings and landscape that make up the park. When buildings are stabilized or restored, or when walking trails and parking lots are established, archeological research is sometimes necessary to ensure that such activities do not adversely impact archeological resources. For example, when the new Monocacy National Battlefield visitor center was in the planning stages, archeology was an integral part of the process.

Learn more about how we do it.

A worker sifts dirt through a screen hanging from a tripod. A small wood building in the background.
Archeological research was undertaken at the Best Farm in advance of stabilization of a log outbuilding.

Archeological Projects

  • Best Farm: The farm comprises the southern portion of a 748-acre plantation known as L'Hermitage which was first occupied during the 1790s. Archeological projects have focused on 18th- and 19th-century occupations of the farm, and have resulted in the discovery of a number of previously unrecorded structures and features, including the slave village associated with L'Hermitage. Archeological excavations also located an early-Civil War encampment near the site of the future visitor center.
  • Thomas Farm: This late-18th-century plantation and farmstead forms the geographical heart of the battlefield. The farmhouse was constructed ca. 1780 by James Marshall. Archeological and historical investigations have located several areas of potential interest, including a mid-18th-century tavern site and a possible blacksmith shop. Archeology was also used to aid in the on-going restoration of the Thomas Barn.
  • Worthington House: The Worthington House is a two-story brick farmhouse built constructed ca. 1851 by Griffin Taylor. Prior to an exterior restoration and rehabilitation of the house, archeology was conducted in an effort to gather information regarding undocumented porches on the side and rear elevations.

Last updated: April 23, 2021

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Frederick, MD 21704


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