The Towne Neck, or Ralph Williams, site (18AN944) is a mid-17th-century plantation located on a low terrace of Carr Creek, a tributary of the Severn River within the U.S. Naval Academy grounds on Greenbury Point, Anne Arundel County.

Archaeological Investigations

The Town Neck site was discovered during construction of a sediment trap at the Naval Radio Transmitter Facility on Greenbury Point. Salvage recordation of the site was performed by Anne Arundel County archaeologists in 1993.

Phase II investigations by KCI Technologies, Inc. and Anne Arundel County archaeologists defined the site boundaries. Field testing included 38 shovel test pits 57 cm in diameter and two 1x1 meter test units, and several cultural features were excavated.

These investigations documented an upper-middle class domestic site dating to the 1660s-1670s. A broad scatter of 17th-century artifacts was identified along with feature deposits, including a trash pit, a cellar, and associated post molds. These remains represent the buried remains of a 17th-century earthfast dwelling.

Archeobotancial Studies

Salvage recordation of the Town Neck site by Anne Arundel County archaeologists in 1993 included hand-collection of carbonized wheat seeds. These were identified by Jean French.

Data recovery efforts by KCI Technologies in 2000 included analysis of archeobotanical materials from three cultural features (1: cellar, 2: trash pit, 3: post hole) associated with plantation occupation during the 1670s. One 9-liter flotation sample and four hand-collected samples were studied by analyst Justine McKnight.

Flotation and hand-recovered plant remains from the Towne Neck site offer a glimpse of economically important food resources and building materials associated with upper-middle class domestic life on the colonial frontier. Carbonized and non-carbonized plant macro-remains from three contemporaneous but functionally discrete cultural features lend insight into plant use during the 1670s.

A maize cob fragment, cherry pit, and pine and American chestnut wood charcoal were recovered from Feature 1. The presence of maize and cherry suggest that this cellar may have underlain a structure related to food preparation or consumption, or that following the abandonment of the superstructure the cellar hole was used as a depository for kitchen refuse. Cherries and black walnuts constituted important dietary elements during the colonial period. Wild and cultivated cherries were consumed in season, or processed for storage as preserves or brandy. Wood charcoal from Feature 1 probably represents the remains of architectural elements. Identification of the charcoal revealed the predominance of pine and American chestnut timber: Both were readily available and common building materials in the colonial Chesapeake.

Feature 2 was a trash pit associated with the cellar. Plant remains recovered through flotation of Feature 2 fill include deciduous wood charcoal, amorphous carbon, and non-carbonized buffalobur seeds (a common weed in disturbed or agricultural settings). Comestible plant remains were absent. Wood taxa identified within the Feature 2 flotation assemblage are inconclusive regarding the origin of the feature fill. Hickory, ash, and oak species were identified; each of these has value as fuel. The sample matrix was composed of crushed brick and oyster shell, and included fragments of bone.

Archeobotanical remains from post hole Feature 3 consisted of a single black walnut shell fragment. This native nut was historically important for its oil (both for cooking and as an ingredient in paint), and the nutmeats were consumed when ripe, stored, or pickled. A potent dye can be obtained from the husks.


Beauregard, Alan D., Al Luckenbach, Anthony Lindauer, and James Kodlick
1994 Phase II Archaeological Evaluation: The Town Neck Site (18AN944) Athletic Facilities Project, Naval KCI Technologies.
French, Jean
1994 Letter to Al Luchenbach dated April 11. On file with Lost Towns Project, Annapolis, Maryland.
Luckenbach, Al and C. Jane Cox
2003 17th Century Lead Cloth Seals from Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Maryland Archeology 39(1,2):17- 26.
Luckenbach, Al and James G. Gibb
1994 Dated Window Leads from Colonial Sties in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Maryland Archeology 30(2):23-28).
Luchenbach, Al
n.d. Unearthing Our Colonial Past: Selected Articles on the Archaeology of Early Anne Arundel County, Maryland (Lost Towns Project). Articles from Maryland Archaeology reprinted in bound form. MHT #AN515.
McKnight, Justine
2000 Flotation-recovered and Hand-recovered Botanical Remains from the Towne Neck Site (18AN944), Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Report submitted to KCI Technologies, Inc.

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