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June 1, 2010

Industrial history uncovered by “Archaeologists At Work!”

Colonial Williamsburg guests can witness the arts and mysteries of archaeology this summer during “Archaeologists At Work!” Archaeology staff members will excavate portions of the James Anderson site to search for underground evidence related to Anderson’s expansion of his blacksmithing operation into a high production armory during the American Revolution.

The excavation is prelude to the planned reconstruction of Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury. Anderson was appointed Public Armourer in 1776 by the General Assembly of the newly independent Commonwealth of Virginia. In the wake of his appointment, Anderson began to enlarge his small, commercial blacksmithing operation into an extensive and diverse public manufactory.

Several archaeological studies of the site from 1974 through 2001 explored areas around the blacksmithing forges and strongly suggest that tinsmiths were working on the site. This year’s dig will concentrate on two areas: the kitchen area east of the current blacksmiths’ shop and a section of an 18th-century ravine along the shop’s border.

“Archaeologists At Work!” is presented continuously 9 a.m. to noon and 1:15 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, June 14 through August 13, weather permitting. Admission is by Colonial Williamsburg ticket or Good Neighbor Pass.

Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury was one of wartime Williamsburg’s most important industrial sites as it helped forge the American Revolution. Reconstruction and endowment of the site is possible through a $4.5 million gift from Colonial Williamsburg’s newest trustee, Forrest E. Mars Jr. When complete, the exhibition site will reflect the complexity and urgency of mounting a war effort against the world’s most powerful 18th-century nation. The project includes reconstruction of several buildings, including an armory, a kitchen, privy, two storage buildings and a tinsmith’s shop.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281