The Shepard site (18MO3) is a Late Woodland period village located on the north bank of the Potomac River about five miles south of the town of Poolesville in Montgomery County.

Archaeological Investigations

The Shepard site was first publicly identified by E. Ralston Goldsborough of Frederick, Maryland, who reported the work of Richard G. Slattery and Hugh V. Stabler in a letter published in the Pennsylvania Archeologist in January 1938 and in the same journal in April 1938. The work was done between 1936 and 1939. In 1952, additional work was conducted by Nicholas Yinger and Ralph Fout of Frederick. In 1955 a small amount of confirmatory excavation of trenches and test pits was conducted by Howard A. MacCord.

The Shepard site is marked by an accumulation of midden over a semi-circular area measuring 150’ x 50'. The longer axis coincides with the north bank of the C&O Canal, the construction of which in the 1830s undoubtedly destroyed about 1/2 of the site. MacCord and Slattery report that artifacts were plentiful on the site surface following plowing, and included sherds, animal bones, mussel shells, and stone artifacts.

A number of pit features were documented at the Shepard Site. These pits were scattered randomly throughout the site, and there was no apparent order to their spacing or arrangement. In some instances, pits were found to overlap or be tangential to other pits, implying some length of occupation on the site. A line of such overlapping pits appeared to early excavators as a trench filled with refuse, and was excavated as such, rather than as individual features. More than 80 pits were found during the excavations. Unfortunately, detailed measurements were not made of the majority of the pits. Those that were measured ranged from three to five feet in diameter, and as deep as five feet below the surface. In some, burned earth, ashes, and charcoal indicated that the pits had been used for the disposal of hearth debris.

MacCord and Slattery suggest that most of pits were intended initially for the storage of foods (corn, nuts, dried meat and fish, etc.), and subsequently were used as graves or for disposal of garbage. The presence of post features was noted, and they were interpreted as belonging to houses rather than palisade walls. Evidence of agriculture consisted of charred kernels of maize. Dog remains were recovered, but there was no evidence of their ceremonial disposal.

Archeobotanical Studies

Some floral and faunal analysis was conducted on the materials from the site. The corn sample was studied and identified by Dr. Volney H. Jones, Curator of Ethnology, Museum of Anthropology of the University of Michigan. His report, issued as Report No. 373 of the Ethnobotanical Laboratory, Museum of Anthropology (May 7, 1956), is cited in the ASM Bulletin of July 1957. Botanical food remains were scarce, composed solely of corn and hickory nut. This scarcity of archeobotanical data is likely due to the inadequacy of the sampling.


Curry, Dennis C. and Maureen Kavanagh
1991 The Middle to  Late Woodland Transition in Maryland. North American Archaeologist 12 (1):2-28.
MacCord, Howard A., Karl Schmitt, and Richard G. Slattery
1957 The Shepard Site Study: (18MO3) Montgomery Co., Md. ASM Bulletin #1, July 1957.

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