Archeological Investigation Underway at Historic Rural Plains Plantation in Hanover County

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Date: October 20, 2008
Contact: David Ruth, 804 226-1981 x. 29

On October 20, 2008, contractors employed by Richmond National Battlefield Park will begin archeological work at the historic "Rural Plains" site near Studley, in Hanover County, on the Totopotomoy Creek Civil War battlefield.

The objectives are to gather information about the house and its immediate grounds, as the National Park Service prepares to open the site to the public in the future. With nearly 285 consecutive years of private ownership by the Shelton family, archeologists and historians are excited about the enormous potential for learning more at this pristine site.

The circa-1725 house and the surrounding 124 acres came to the National Park Service through donation in 2006. The property has many connections to colonial and Civil War history. Patrick Henry's marriage to a Shelton girl occurred in the parlor of the house in 1754. 110 years later the contending Civil War armies waged war on the property, damaging the house and scarring the plantation with entrenchments.

"Opportunities to investigate such unspoiled properties in detail are rare," noted park Superintendent David Ruth. "Nearly three centuries of Virginia history are wrapped up in this one special place. As the new stewards of this magnificent property our job is to treat the historic resources with care, while preparing the site for enjoyment by generations of visitors. This archeology will help guide us through the basic decisions about mixing permanent preservation with public use."

Since acquiring the site in 2006, the Park Service has concentrated on the preservation of the house, and developing plans to provide visitors access to the grounds. Currently the site is open to the public one weekend each fall for house tours and special programs.

For information on the project and related issues contact the park at 804 226-1981.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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