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Things To Do > Public Archeology on the Patuxent > Pig Point

Pig Point: A Site of the Lost Towns Project

Lost Towns Project Lab, 839 Londontown Road, Edgewater, MD 21037

 

In 2009, the Lost Towns Project began excavating a site known as Pig Point, thought to be named for the iron bars or “pigs” made by Patuxent Iron Works and shipped downriver to merchant vessels from this point. Located on private property in Anne Arundel County, the site has revealed a vast array of American Indian artifacts, showing that this place has been continuously occupied for at least 9,500 years. Although 19th century history is not the focus of this excavation, Pig Point also had a dramatic role in the War of 1812.

This site offers opportunities for getting involved year-round. Contact the Lost Towns Project to become a volunteer for a day, a week, or a season. Thanks to this place’s sandy soil that rarely freezes, archeologists are able to excavate at the site two days per week from about mid-March to mid-December. You can set up times during this long excavation season to help dig riverside or get involved in washing and sorting Pig Point’s fascinating artifacts in the Lost Towns Project Lab at Historic London Town and Gardens. The lab is open five days per week during the chilliest winter months and four to five days per week during the field season. The group of friendly archeologists, interns, and dedicated volunteers at this site will teach you as much as you’d like to know about archeological process and local history along the way. The Pig Point site is currently only accepting field volunteers and visitors above age 18 years, but there are some opportunities for minors available in the lab or at the Lost Towns Project’s other field sites.

Star-Spangled History: In August of 1814, British Rear Admiral George Cockburn was leading his forces up the Patuxent River and offering support to British troops on land as they marched northward to Washington. American Commodore Joshua Barney was retreating from the British fleet with his Chesapeake Flotilla. As the British entered Nottingham, a port town on the Patuxent, Barney reached Pig Point and acted quickly. He took 400 flotillamen with him farther upriver and left about 100 men, including his lieutenant Solomon Frazier, behind at Pig Point with the wounded and most of the fleet’s supplies. Barney ordered Frazier to prepare explosives and deliberately sink or “scuttle” the fleet if the British tried to seize their supplies and weapons. On August 22, 1814 Admiral Cockburn approached the Chesapeake Flotilla, including Barney’s famous flagship the USS Scorpion, at Pig Point. But as he neared the fleet, the abandoned vessels ignited and exploded. They were “blown to atoms” in Admiral Cockburn’s words, but his forces were able to capture one barge and some merchant schooners that had been with the flotilla. Meanwhile Commodore Barney and his 400 men joined forces with militia units and US Marine reinforcements to aid in the defense of Washington on land. The flotillamen made a stand at the Battle of Bladensburg, where Commodore Barney was wounded on August 24.

While you visit: Since the archeological site itself is on private property, you must contact the Lost Towns Project in order to visit and volunteer. Only those accompanied by project staff will be able to visit the site and the evocative landscape that surrounds it. However, Historic London Town and Gardens, where the archeology lab is located, is open to the public without reservations. London Town offers tours of its grounds, the historic William Brown House, its exhibit showcasing Lost Towns Project artifacts, and more. For up-to-date information about specific hours, events, and admission pricing, please visit London Town's website.

Contact: Jessie Grow – 410-222-1318 – volunteers@losttownsproject.org

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