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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Possible Cemetery Found at Belvoir Plantation

Monday, March 12, 2018

CROWNSVILLE, MARYLAND—According to a report in The Washington Post, Maryland Department of Transportation archaeologists investigated oral history reports of a slave cemetery at Belvoir, a plantation owned by the grandmother of “Star Spangled Banner” composer Francis Scott Key. Traces of slave quarters were found at Belvoir in 2014, including pottery, buttons, and other artifacts, just a short walk away from the prospective cemetery site, where cadaver dogs have indicated the presence of human remains. Chief archaeologist Julie Schablitsky explained that the location of the site on an uneven hillock, which would not have been suitable for farming, and the regular pattern of fieldstones, which were often used to mark the graves of enslaved people, both suggest the presence of burials. Further research will attempt to identify who may have been buried there between 1736 and 1864, when slaves in Maryland were emancipated, but there are no plans to excavate. To read in-depth about the site, go to “Letter From Maryland: Belvoir's Legacy.”

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