The Idlewild Farm site (18AN1257) is a late 17th through very early 18th-century plantation situated on Cheney’s Resolution in Anne Arundel County. The site also encompasses a portion of a 19th-century artifact scatter from a nearby site.

Archaeological Investigations

The Idlewild Farm site was identified in 2004 by James G. Gibb during a Phase I survey consisting of shovel testing at 65’ intervals. Limited Phase II shovel testing was then conducted by Gibb at 25’ intervals, for a total of 44 shovel test pits. This effort revealed a domestic site dating to the late 17th and early 18th centuries, with a low density of artifacts. Mechanical stripping of the plowzone revealed a number of cultural features, including three pits and several postholes. Artifacts collected from the spoil and exposed surfaces were few, but included a rim sherd of a North Devon sgrafitto pan, a rim sherd of a British brown stoneware mug, a handwrought nail, and a painted white earthenware flatware rim sherd. A small, thin sherd of green vessel glass and one white clay pipestem fragment were collected from the top of an ill-defined posthole.

Phase III data recovery was conducted by Gibb in the late spring and early summer of 2006 to mitigate archaeological resources threatened by a residential development project. Mechanical stripping of 0.75 acres exposed ten cultural features. Two of these were possible structural post features, one a possible cellar hole, and the remaining seven were borrow pits. Features clustered in the southwestern corner of the site were severely truncated by erosion and likely represent the location of the dwelling. Features in the northeast corner of the site appear to have served as small borrow and daub-mixing pits. The central feature (Feature 1) likely was the borrow pit used for the initial construction of an earthfast house. Artifacts were relatively few, but clearly date the site to the last quarter of the 17th century and the first decade or so of the 18th. Unfortunately, the southwestern corner of the site has been heavily eroded, severely truncating the features that may have preserved the structure’s footprint for research.

Archeobotanical Studies

Data recovery at Idlewild Farm included rigorous study of historic plant remains recovered from archaeological features. Justine McKnight analyzed 27 samples of carbonized plant remains from four cultural features (1, 15, 16, and 17). These features were all described as various pits related to the late 17th through early 18th-century occupation. Botanical materials were recovered by waterscreening through ¼ inch mesh, followed by flotation processing.

A full quantitative analysis was made of 50% of the Feature 1 samples (this was the large borrow pit associated with the initial construction of the earthfast house and subsequent disposal of hearth debris). The analysis also included a descriptive assessment of archeobotanical materials recovered from all other features.

Eleven samples from discrete strata of Feature 1 were analyzed. Examination of 50% of the floral remains from each stratum (a total of 737.58 grams of carbonized plant remains) documented a wide range of food, fuel, and architectural materials. A variety of economically important cultivated and wild plant taxa were represented, including wood charcoal (dominated by white oak), the agricultural products beans, maize, and wheat, native nutshells, grape seeds, and a peach pit fragment.

Sixteen samples from cultural strata within Features 15, 16, and 17 were subjected to an abbreviated analysis to document their floral contents. Wood charcoal dominated all samples for each of these pit features. Nutshell was present in Features 16 and 17. Cultigen remains occurred in each feature. Seeds were present but scant within Features 16 and 17.


Gibb, James G.
2006 Phase III Data Recovery at Idlewild Farm (18AN1257), Davidsonville Road, Davidsonville, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Gibb Archaeological Consulting. Submitted to Carus Homes, Inc., Crofton.
McKnight, Justine
2007 Report on the Analysis of Flotation-recovered Archeobotanical Remains Recovered from Site 18AN1257, Idlewild Farm, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Report submitted to Gibb Archaeological Consulting, Inc., Annapolis, Maryland.

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