Welcome to the Ravenscroft Site

Archaeologists remove fill from the Ravenscroft cellar in 2007.

About the Excavation

On June 1st Colonial Williamsburg archaeologists and archaeological field school students will open the 2009 summer field season at the Ravenscroft site, located at the east end of Williamsburg’s Historic Area. Now in its fourth year, the Ravenscroft excavation will focus on a portion of the site’s eighteenth-century main house as well as an outbuilding behind it. These buildings, as well as a cellar excavated between 2006 and 2008, were in use during the occupancy of two of the Ravenscroft site’s more well-known residents: William Hunter and Joseph Royle. Hunter and Royle were successive printers of the Virginia Gazette which, until the mid-1760s, served as the colony’s only newspaper. As editors and disseminators of information, Hunter and Royle were men of influence during this critical transition period in colonial history.

By the mid-eighteenth century the corner of Nicholson and Botetourt Streets, where archaeologists are currently digging, was a location befitting men of such prestige. Though quiet “green space” today, this property was then a busy “townstead,” a multi-lot parcel with a large house (now partially under Botetourt Street) and a full array of outbuildings. The main house burned in 1896, approximately 160 years after its construction.

Although the site’s main structure would seem the obvious focus of an investigation about the Ravenscroft property and its inhabitants, the fact that it was occupied until the eve of the twentieth-century makes it less informative about 18th century life. The cellar is likely to contain artifacts more familiar to us today than they would be to Hunter, Royle, and other eighteenth-century residents. It is for this reason that archaeologists are more eager to excavate an outbuilding behind the house, a structure thought to be a kitchen. This building (like the house) appears on a 1782 map, but is not believed to have survived long into the nineteenth-century, if at all.

Students stand inside an 18th century cellar on the Ravenscroft site. August 2007

Students wash artifacts at the Ravenscroft site.

Please Visit

The 2009 Ravenscroft excavation season opens on June 1st, and continues through August 7th. Visitors are invited to visit Monday through Friday from 9am-12pm and 1-4pm, weather permitting. Hands-on activities will be offered between 10 and 11:30am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from June 6th through August 7th. For further information on visiting the site, please click here.