The Roberts site (18CV350) is an 18th-century artifact concentration within the town limits of Prince Frederick, in Calvert County.

Archaeological Investigations

The Roberts site was originally recorded by Kate Dinnel and Bernie Slaughter of Greiner, Inc. during a Phase I survey for the widening of Maryland Route 2/4. The site was recorded as a sparse artifact scatter. This scatter may represent only a small portion of the site. The area east of the scatter was described as disturbed by modern houses and railroad construction activities from ca. 1890.

Gibb Archaeological Consulting conducted Phase II site examination and then a Phase III impact mitigation. Fifty-three shovel test pits (25’ intervals) and five test units were placed to test a soil anomaly and three small concentrations of early-to-mid 18th-century artifacts. Two phases of mechanical plowzone stripping were followed by feature definition and sampling.

The site consisted of a fenced, rectangular enclosure measuring approximately 90 feet on each of four sides, represented by 37 post features. A fifth line of ten postholes was also found, representing a fence within the west side of the enclosure (function uncertain). Outside of the south fence, near its western terminus, was a line of severely truncated postholes and postmolds with substantial charcoal and burned daub inclusions, which suggested the remains of an earthfast dwelling. Within the enclosure, three pit features were found near three of the four corners. One pit included burned daub, brick, bone, oyster shell, and some datable artifacts, including a Spanish 1719 clipped two-reales silver coin and a sherd of “drabware” white salt-glazed stoneware. A variety of domestic and wild species were identified from the faunal remains, including rockfish, deer, sheep, cow, pig, and chicken. Another pit contained English brown and Westerwald stoneware, white clay tobacco pipe fragments, and a bottle seal bearing the initials IS. The letters may stand for James Skinner, with the initial “I” being a Latinate “J”. The Skinners owned the Roberts site parcel and adjoining tracts.

Clear evidence of buildings, other than the five-foot square pit feature (interpreted as a possible root cellar) was lacking. A series of four postholes was severely truncated by plowing, leaving only 0.1 to 0.2 feet of deposits. If a parallel line existed farther south, it was completely destroyed by plowing.

Archeobotanical Studies

Phase III archeobotany at the Roberts Site included analysis of five flotation samples and one sample of waterscreen-recovered plant material. Samples were retained from two cultural features associated with mid 18th-century domestic contexts (Feature 40 and 41). Processing and analysis was conducted by Justine McKnight.

Flotation samples were individually processed using a Flote-Tech flotation system equipped with 0.325 mm fine fraction and 1.0 mm coarse fraction screens. Processing of 70 liters of feature fill yielded 338.33 grams of carbonized plant macro-remains (a mean average of 4.83 grams of material per liter of soil). Recovered remains included a variety of economically important cultivated and wild plants, including wood charcoal, nuts, wheat, maize, peas, beans, squash, seeds from edible wild plants, and miscellaneous plant materials including fungi, twigs, a peduncle, and amorphous carbon.

Flotation-recovered wood charcoal totaled 21,471 fragments weighing 323.38 grams. A subsample of 100 fragments was selected for identification: Oak totaled 58 fragments, with lesser amounts of American chestnut, ash, hickory, and maple. Nut remains totaled 30 fragments (3.33 grams), with black walnut, acorn, and walnut identified. Cultivated plant remains totaled 159 specimens (2.18 grams). Squash (7 elements), bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) (1), pea (2), wheat (13 kernels), and maize (277 elements) were documented. Seed remains recovered through flotation include 2 cherry, 1 knotweed, 1 grape, and 8 unidentifiable seed elements.

The entirety of Feature 41’s carbon-rich Stratum 1A was water-screened during excavation. Carbonized plant remains were abundant, and a sample (roughly 1.25 liters of carbon) was submitted for analysis. The sample contained a diverse array of plant materials within a matrix of fish scales, oyster shell, small land snails, bone fragments, and carbon dust. Waterscreen-recovered plant remains totaled 523 grams. This included 41,500 wood fragments (498.11 grams). Oak (14 fragments), maple, and American chestnut were represented in the subsample of 20 fragments selected for identification. Cultivated plant remains recovered through waterscreening totaled 235 fragments (3.45 grams) and included bean (3), wheat kernels (19), and maize (213 elements). Seed remains totaling 12 specimens (0.32 grams) were identified: persimmon (7), wild black cherry (1), poke (2), and grape (2).


Gibb, James G.
2005 Phase I Survey of a Portion of the Proposed Prince Frederick Loop Road, and Phase II Archaeological Site Examination and Phase III Impact Mitigation at the Roberts Site (18CV350), Prince Frederick, Calvert County, Maryland. Gibb Archaeological Consulting.
McKnight, Justine
2005 Report on the Archeobotanical Remains Recovered from the Roberts Site (18CV350), Calvert County, Maryland. Submitted to Gibb Archaeological Consulting, Annapolis, Maryland.

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