Archaeology at Chapman’s Mill

Chris Raimey & Martha Wallace catalog artifacts at the TTMAC office.

Chris Raimey & Martha Wallace catalog artifacts at the TTMAC office.

Archaeological survey work has been conducted at Chapman’s Mill by members of the Archaeological Society of Virginia /Northern Virginia Chapter (NVC) volunteers over the past several years.   The Gap, through which Broad Run flows at the Bull Run Mountains, has been and continues to be an important east-west passage between the ocean and the mountains which people have used for thousands of years.

The first preliminary excavations were conducted by archaeologist Patrick O’Neill and a handful of NVC volunteers.  As time passed, our volunteer crew, led at the time by archaeologist Dr. Kay McCarron, has managed to excavate and record nearly 200 shovel test pits, some of which were expanded to mini-test units as necessary.  When the Turn the Mill Around Campaign, the non-profit custodian of the mill, announced that plans for pedestrian pathways, etc. were delayed, we decided in the spring of 2014 that it was time to halt the excavations so we could  systematically categorize, catalog, and bag/box the artifacts excavated thus far.

The artifacts we have catalogued to this point are already reflecting the site’s history from Archaic  lithics through an industrial and residential site dating to the 18th and 19th century, as well as a Civil War battle.   We continue to be optimistic that this area of the Broad Run terraces has the potential of an earlier prehistoric component.

John Kelsey & Janet Martin sort and tag archaeological material.

John Kelsey & Janet Martin sort and tag archaeological material.

We normally meet on Tuesdays at our lab located in The Plains (west of Haymarket) and usually have a dedicated crew of 10-12 volunteers each session.  The project director, Frances Allshouse, with the support of project archaeologist Dr. Mike Johnson, welcomes volunteers who are willing to help with the lab work.

Frances and Mike hope that, informed by our lab work, we will be caught up by spring of 2015 so further survey and excavation in the field may follow.  If you have been to the Mill, you know it is a wonderful site with a rich history.

Current lab work provides an excellent opportunity for certification candidates as well as others to become familiar with a wide range of artifacts.  We can use your help regardless of your level of experience, and Frances is also looking for volunteers willing to help with historical research.  If you are interested in volunteering or would just like to learn more about the project, please contact Frances at

** This article provided by archaeology volunteer and NVC member Jackie Cuyler.  To learn more about the NVC, click HERE. **


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