Colonial Williamsburg® The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's Official History and Citizenship Website

Page content
Reset text sizeResize text larger

June 6, 2008

CW's archaeological dig reveals hidden past throughout the summer

Excavation is under way at the Ravenscroft site by Colonial Williamsburg’s archaeological research department. Located in the Historic Area at the intersection of Botetourt and Nicholson Streets, the site is open to the public 9-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday – Friday through Aug. 29, weather permitting. Hands-on activities for the whole family are offered at the site between 10-11:30 a.m. through Aug. 1.

Archaeologists, including undergraduate and graduate student participants in the joint Colonial Williamsburg/College of William and Mary Archaeological Field School, are investigating an early 18th-century site named for one of the property’s first owners, Thomas Ravenscroft. Cross-trenching excavations in 1954 uncovered evidence of two structures including a brick cellar measuring 14 by 16 feet, generally thought to be too small to be a complete footprint of a structure. In 1998 another very limited project uncovered postholes and a large 18th-century trash pit adjacent to the existing dig.

The current excavation, begun in 2006, applies newer archaeological techniques to questions that remain about this cellar: When was it built and for what purpose? What did the building look like? What types of activities were carried out in this structure? And which of the property’s many owners and residents can be associated with it? Among the people linked to the site in the years preceding the Revolution are merchant John Holt, printers of The Virginia Gazette William Hunter and Joseph Royle and a long list of enslaved household members.

Colonial Williamsburg’s department of archaeological research, in cooperation with the College of William and Mary, conducts yearly archaeological field schools in colonial archaeology for graduate and undergraduate students. The department also oversees the largest colonial period archaeological collection in the United States, consisting of several million objects and fragments recovered during more than 60 years of excavation and extensive comparative historic-period faunal and archaeobotanical collections.

No ticket is required to enjoy this remarkable interactive experience.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic tradespeople research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®” -- a daily dramatic live street theater presentation -- is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. 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., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121