The archaeological findings at Montpelier are the foundations on which we reconstruct buildings, plant trees, furnish rooms, and develop a better sense of the lives lived at Montpelier.

Years of physical labor, research and the passion of many helped to develop the South Yard buildings and their present day interpretation for the public. Below are just a few samples of some of the objects found by archaeologists in the South Yard. Those pieces provide a wealth of information about how those enslaved at Montpelier lived- their findings may surprise you and we hope peek your curiosity.

Please visit the Archaeology Department for more information about their work. You can even sign up to dig for yourself!


Curator of Archaeological Collections, Dr. Mary Furlong Minkoff, gives a professional look into identifying ceramics. 

Curator of Archaeological Collections, Dr. Mary Furlong Minkoff, examines personal items that we find in the archaeological record-buttons, beads, clothing fasteners, tobacco pipes and other finds that bring the past to life.

Dr. Mary Furlong Minkoff, Curator of Archaeological Collections at Montpelier, details how to identify nails, iron hinges, and cook pots by time period.

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Archaeology Lunch and LEARN

Join a weekly, casual conversation or lecture about archaeology, from the comfort of your own home.

Introduction to the South Yard

Through the reconstruction, furnishing, and interpretation of the South Yard buildings, Montpelier is sharing a more complete history of the Madison legacy and the place that nurtured the American Constitution as well as the horrendous system of slavery.

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The Naming Project

The Naming Project is an ongoing effort at The Montpelier Foundation, drawing on years of research to uncover and share the names and stories of the Black people who lived, worked, and were enslaved at Montpelier.

View of a blanket chest in the South Yard. Notice the oznaburg clothing inside.
The South Yard: Household Items

As an enslaved person living in the South Yard at Montpelier, some of your personal tools would have been used to support your family’s daily needs as well as the demands of your owners. Others would have been yours, alone.

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