Wake Forest University Archaeology Program at James Madison’s Montpelier!

This spring, CHARG is excited to announce a unique opportunity for members of the Lifelong Learning Community to participate in archaeological excavations at James Madison’s Montpelier – the historic home of President James Madison, father of the US Constitution, the 1st First Lady, Dolley Madison, and the over 300 individuals enslaved by the Madisons and their family. Through CHARG’s longtime partnership with the Archaeology Department at The Montpelier Foundation, this program will give Wake Forest University and the Lifelong Learning communities a chance to work on a real archaeological excavation at one of the most historically significant cultural heritage sites in the United States. Montpelier’s award winning public archaeology program has been conducting these public programs for over 25 years, and has worked with Dr. Terry Brock, Director of CHARG, the Research Associate in African American Studies and the Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies Programs, and Manager of Archaeology and Research at The Wake Forest Historical Museum, to develop a program specially designed for the Wake Forest University community.

Program Description

Excavations will focus on the Archaeology of Memorialization, focusing on identifying the boundaries of the Burial Ground of the Enslaved. These excavations are a critical component of the collaborative effort between the Montpelier Foundation and the Montpelier Descendants Committee to build a memorial to the Enslaved near the Burial Ground. Participants will work alongside Montpelier’s Archaeology Staff and Dr. Brock to assist with this project, while receiving private tours of the main house, grounds, award-winning Mere Distinction of Colour Exhibit, and archaeological sites located across the property. Additionally, special evening programs with Dr. Brock will connect the interpretation, methods, and memorialization work at Montpelier to ongoing research, scholarship, and memorialization efforts associated with Wake Forest University.

Attendees will spend the bulk of their day working at the archaeology site, learning about archaeological field methods and participating in the ongoing research to identify the boundaries of the ancestral cemetery of the people enslaved by the Madisons. Attendees will also spend time in the archaeology lab, learning about laboratory methods related to artifact care and curation.

Dates, Location, Transportation

The program will begin at 1 pm on Sunday, May 12th, and concludes Thursday evening, May 16th.

The program is located at The Montpelier Foundation in the nearby town of Orange, Virginia. Participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements. The property is approximately a four-hour drive from Winston-Salem, 30 minutes from Charlottesville, Virginia, and 1:15 from Richmond, Virginia.


Sunday will include check-in by 1 pm, and then tours of the grounds and exhibits to situate participants historically and introduce them to basic archaeological methods and interpretation. Each subsequent day will include a tour of an archaeological site, and then the rest of the day will be spent working on the excavation site or in the archaeology lab. The evening will include a meal and conversation with Dr. Brock about different topics related to history, archaeology, and memorial, which will relate some of the work at Montpelier to ongoing research and memorialization efforts at Wake Forest University through the Slavery, Race, and Memory Project, President’s Memorialization Committee, and the Wake Forest Historical Museum. You can see a full schedule here.


Participants will be able to stay on the grounds of the historic property in the Constitutional Village, a number of historic buildings that were formerly homes of workers during the 20th century, when the property was a horse farm owned by the duPont family. Rooms include individually keyed, private rooms with private bathrooms, a community kitchen, and seating area. The rooms are only a few minutes walk from the Madison main house, classrooms, and the archaeology lab, and participants will be able to explore the grounds after hours. Off-property accommodations are possible, but must be arranged separately.


Participants will be provided dinner at the end of each day. They are responsible for providing their own breakfast and lunches. Accommodations include a shared full kitchen, and grocery stores are nearby.


Program Fee (includes meals, equipment, staff salary): $1,000
Montpelier Housing Fee (couples or travel partners may room together): $175/night


The program is organized by Dr. Terry Brock at Wake Forest University, and carried out in collaboration with the Archaeology staff at The Montpelier Foundation. You can learn more about some of these individuals below.

Dr. Terry P. Brock
Wake Forest University

Research Associate, African American Studies and Cultural Heritage and Preservation Programs
Manager of Archaeology and Research, Wake Forest Historical Museum

Dr. Terry Brock is the Director of the Cultural Heritage and Archaeology Research Group, which focuses on collaborative community based research with organizations and communities in Winston Salem and beyond. He also is the co-chair of the WFU Slavery, Race, and Memory Project, and a member of the President’s Campus Memorialization Steering Committee. After receiving his PhD in Anthropology at Michigan State University, Dr. Brock worked as the Assistant Director of Archaeology at The Montpelier Foundation for 8 years, where he led archaeological excavations exploring the lives of the enslaved community, resulting in the 6-time award winning exhibition, A Mere Distinction of Colour, and helped develop the public archaeology program that recently won the John Roberts Award for Excellence in Public Archaeology from the Society for Historical Archaeology. Dr. Brock still conducts research with his colleagues at Montpelier, where he is the author and co-principal investigator on a National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Research Grant entitled “Understanding the Overseer”. Dr. Brock also serves on the Board of a second Roberts Award winning organization, Archaeology in the Community, and on the Board of MUSE in Winston Salem. Dr. Brock will serve as the primary organizer, instructor, and guide for the entire program.

Dr. Matt Reeves
The Montpelier Foundation

Director of Archaeology and Landscape Restoration

Matt has been the Director of Archaeology since 2000 and leads the overall archaeological research and public archaeology programming at James Madison’s Montpelier. Dr. Reeves is the principal investigator for all archaeological projects on the property. Over the past two decades, Dr. Reeve’s research has focused on plantation life, Civil War encampments, and an overall focus on sites of theAfrican Diaspora (both pre-and post-emancipation). Prior to Montpelier, he directed projects at Manassas National Battlefield Park, Jefferson Patterson Park, and various New York DOT projects, and has worked on a wide variety of historic and pre-contact sites in Maryland, Virginia, New York, and Jamaica. His doctorate is from Syracuse University and focused on 19th-century settlements of the enslaved in Jamaica that he spent two years surveying and excavating.

Christopher Pasch
The Montpelier Foundation

Archaeology Field Director

Chris joined the Montpelier staff in 2017. Prior to Montpelier, Chris worked at Historic St. Mary’s City, in Southern Maryland, as a Field Supervisor and Assistant Lab Supervisor. He has over a decade of experience working in the Mid-Atlantic on pre-contact indigenous sites, 17th-18th century colonial settlements, 19th-century plantation landscapes, and early 20th-century sites. Chris received his MA in Historical Archaeology from the University of Leicester and his BA in History and English Literature from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. His M.A. thesis used the Temple and icehouse at Montpelier to explore the experiences and knowledge of enslaved laborers conducting icehouse labor, and their readings and perspective on the Temple as a symbolic structure in the early American republic. Chris specializes in landscape archaeology, memory and heritage studies, public and community-based archaeology, the archaeology of identities, geographic information systems (GIS), and digital data collection.

Liz McCague,
The Montpelier Foundation

Archaeology Lab Manager

Liz is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Maryland from Columbia, Maryland. She earned her BA in anthropology with minors in museum studies and African diaspora studies from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2015 and her Master’s in Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland in 2020. Liz was trained in historical archaeology while at St. Mary’s, conducting fieldwork in The Gambia, West Africa, Jamaica, and at plantation sites in southern Maryland. Following her undergraduate degree, Liz was employed at Montpelier as an archaeology intern, archaeology field technician, and archaeology crew chief until 2018 where she worked on excavations of domestic quarters of the enslaved community, smokehouses, trash middens, a kitchen and planters cottage, and the temple icehouse entrance. Her research interests include public archaeology, plantation landscapes, racial capitalism, and multispecies entanglements. Liz’s ongoing dissertation research focuses on equestrian labor practices surrounding the horse industry at James Madison’s Montpelier. She returned to Montpelier as the archaeology lab manager in June of 2023.


Registration for the Program is due by April 1st. Payment is made directly to The Montpelier Foundation for both the program fee and Montpelier housing costs. A non-refundable $300 deposit is required to secure your slot!

If you have any questions, please email Dr. Terry Brock.

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