The Holland Point site (18DO220) in Dorchester County, Maryland is located within the Choptank River drainage on the eastern side of Taylors Island, near the mouth of Slaughter Creek. Slaughter Creek is tidal at Holland Point, and the point consists of marsh wetlands. The site is rapidly eroding, and a portion of it lies buried beneath the saltmarsh.

The site has archaeological components dating from the Early Archaic through the Late Woodland periods, and includes a once-extensive Middle and Late Woodland period shell midden.

Archaeological Investigations

Darrin Lowery initially recorded the Holland Point site in 1995 as part of an archaeological survey of the Little Choptank drainage basin. Lowery collected a variety of artifacts, including 6 Late Woodland triangular points (5 jasper, 1 chert), 1 quartz Late Archaic stemmed point, 2 fragments of Wolfe Neck pottery, 21 fragments of Townsend pottery, 3 deer bone fragments, 1 turtle shell fragment, 12 jasper flakes and flakes tools, 15 chert flakes and flake tools, 6 quartz/quartzite flakes, and 2 siltstone flakes. The property owner also collected a steatite platform pipe (with incised fish on the stem), 2 gorgets, numerous Middle Archaic through Late Woodland projectile points, a bone awl, and numerous fragments of ceramics. Rhyolite and argillite have also been found at the site. The presence of intact worked bone indicates the considerable information potential of 18DO220, though the site is eroding rapidly. The 1877 Lake, Griffing, & Stevenson Atlas depicts a shipyard on this point, which may have eroded away. Indeed, the point is still eroding today. The Holland Point Farm house may also have been the residence of W.J. Lambden during the late 19th century.

The Holland Point site was further investigated in 2000 as part of a Maryland Historical Trust grant-funded project undertaken by Darrin Lowery and R. Michael Stewart and administered through Temple University’s Department of Anthropology. The fieldwork consisted of (1) a controlled shoreline collection, (2) a pedestrian survey of three nearby plowed fields, (3) the subsurface testing of the site in the saltmarsh, and (4) augering across the saltmarsh to determine the nature and extent of a buried shell midden. The Holland Point site includes both the shell midden area and the nearby tilled fields. However, this large area is not one continuous concentration of cultural material.

The bulk of the subsurface testing was focused on the excavation of seven 1-by-1 meter test units. A systematic controlled surface collection of the shoreline adjacent to and beyond the in situ archaeological deposits was conducted. Three tilled fields west of the shell midden were surface collected and mapped. Recovered diagnostic artifacts included Bare Island, Fishtail, Fox Creek, Jack’s Reef, Susquehanna, and triangular points, and Dame’s Quarter, Hell Island, Minguannan, Rappahannock/Townsend, and Wolfe Neck ceramics. Macroscopic/microscopic lithic analysis and oyster shell analysis was conducted by the Artifact Research Center in Hackettstown, New Jersey.

An evaluation of the cultural and natural stratigraphy in the saltmarsh portion of the site revealed two distinct analytical contexts. One consisted of the shell midden deposit, which dates to the Late Woodland period. The second analytical context consisted of archaeological deposits below the shell midden. This sub-midden dates from the Late Archaic through Late Woodland periods, but cannot be accurately divided into more refined temporal units. Several features at the site were investigated to varying degrees. One was a Middle Woodland Native American burial.

Archeobotanical Studies

As part of the 2000 investigations, soil samples of unknown volume were processed from four cultural contexts: Stratum I and Sand Overwash, Stratum II (Late Woodland shell midden), Strata III and IV (contexts spanning Late Archaic through Late Woodland occupations), and Test Unit 4. Flotation samples were processed by the Artifact Research Center and the light fraction portions of the samples were submitted to Justine McKnight for analysis.

Identifiable plant remains from Stratum 1 and the Sand Overwash area were limited to carbonized poke seeds (2) and non-carbonized (modern) seeds. The Late Woodland shell midden (Stratum II) yielded wood charcoal (pine and oak were identified), abundant hickory and walnut nutshell (52 fragments), 11 carbonized seeds (pigweed, holly, knotweed, and grass), and non-carbonized seed remains. Floral remains from Strata III and IV included pine wood charcoal, nutshell (104 fragments -- hickory and acorn), carbonized seeds (8 -- holly and knotweed were identified), and non-carbonized seeds. Flotation samples from Test Unit 4 yielded scant wood charcoal (1 fragment), small quantities of hickory nutshell (7 fragments), and non-carbonized seed.

The floral assemblage from the Holland Point site provides data from an understudied area of the Delmarva Peninsula, and includes samples from contexts spanning the Late Archaic through Late Woodland periods. The assemblage documents the importance of native mast resources – especially hickory – throughout all periods of occupation, and possibly the use of deciduous seeds (holly) and small grains (pigweed, knotweed). The absence of volumetric information and heavy fraction remains limits the usefulness of the data.

Two radiocarbon dates from the Late Woodland period shell midden are directly associated with recovered archeobotanical remains.

Beta No
C-13 Adj Age
Cal 2 sigma low
Cal Median Probability
Cal 2 sigma high
Shell Midden
810 +/- 40 bp
AD 1160
AD 1228
AD 1277
Shell Midden
770 +/- 40 bp
AD 1186
AD 1249
AD 1289


Lowery, Darrin L.
1995 An Archaeological Survey of the Little Choptank River Watershed, Dorchester County, Maryland.
Crownsville, MD, Maryland Historical Trust.
Walker, Jesse O.
2003 Archaeological Investigations of the Holland Point Site (18DO220). Dorchester County, Maryland. M.A. thesis, Temple University.

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