Each spring and summer, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum holds a public archeology program offering opportunities for volunteers and visitors to participate in an excavation within the park’s 560 gorgeous acres along the Patuxent. Archeologists are currently uncovering a colonial house site, but the focus varies from season to season. Get your hands in the dirt during field days that take place several days per week, or stay cool washing artifacts in the MAC Lab.
MAC Lab stands for Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab, and the resources of this facility have gained an international reputation. Researchers from around the world use the Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland website as a resource for learning more about artifacts that are similar to those found in Maryland but have been scattered by trade, war, and colonization. The public archeology program runs roughly from mid-May to July. Please check the park’s website and contact archeologist Ed Chaney in order to get started and find out more details. Join the archeologists and volunteers for an afternoon, a day, or spend your summer excavating—it’s up to you!
Star-Spangled History: Just off the shore of the park—where St. Leonard Creek meets the Patuxent River—the largest naval engagement on Maryland waters in the history of the state played out. The first part of this battle took place June 8-10, 1814 and ended in a stalemate with Commodore Joshua Barney and his “Chesapeake Flotilla” of 18 small gunboats, barges, and sloops trapped in the creek. On June 26th, the Chesapeake Flotilla again engaged the British forces on the water, supported by American army, marine, and militia units on land. An American gun battery was located atop a hill on what is now part of Jefferson Patterson Park. The British retreated eventually, allowing Barney’s flotilla to escape from St. Leonard Creek. Archeological evidence of this battle has been found in the park and conserved in the MAC Lab.
While you visit: Aside from chances to excavate, there are opportunities to learn more about the War of 1812 through an exhibit in the park’s Exhibit Barn entitled “Farmers, Patriots, and Traitors: Southern Maryland and the War of 1812.” While you’re on the grounds, meander through the hiking trails, driving trails, and audio trails that focus on the War of 1812 and other historical subject matter. Check out the Indian Village, the Visitor Center, the Patterson House, and the landscape or plan your visit to coincide with this park’s annual War of 1812 reenactment each September.
Contact: Ed Chaney – 410-586-8554 – firstname.lastname@example.org
More on the MAC Lab and the War of 1812
The MAC Lab serves as a regional resource for analyzing and protecting the evidence of the past. In 2009, the lab helped to conserve a cannon, dating to the early 19th century. Since 1914, this iron cannon with a marble base had stood in the town of Havre de Grace as a memorial to local War of 1812 defender John O’Neill. Over the years, exposure to the elements had deteriorated the cannon and made it vulnerable to further damage. The MAC Lab’s team was able to restore and protect the cannon, allowing for it to continue serving as a reminder of John O’Neill and others who played roles in the War of 1812.