Northeastern Maryland Archaeological Society Talk Puts Spotlight on 30 Years of Digs at Elk Landing

One of the things that we’ve said often is that you never know what kind of buried treasures are going to turn up when someone starts digging around older parts of Elkton. Many of the town’s parking areas, streets, and building lots have
yielded relics that were tossed aside and buried a long time ago.  But there is one well examined parcel in Elkton where many of the secrets of the soil are known.

That parcel is Elk Landing and this evening the Northeastern Maryland Archaeological Society sponsored a talk by Dr. Jim Gibb about that
subject at the Perryville Library.  During a most informative talk, he broadly explored the significant cluster of professional digs that have occurred down at Elk Landing since 1980.   That first shovel tests were done as they prepared part of the old farm field for construction of the detention center and during the search they found the remains of Native-Americans.   The finding of human bones resulted in a second, more detailed, investigation.  Once the Historic Elk Landing Foundation was created, a number of additional studies were done on the historic tract and today the total number is near ten, all done by
professional archaeologists.

In a  period of just over thirty years, they’ve found material culture from pre-historic people, aboriginal burial grounds, bottles, arrow-hands, a cannon ball, plenty of relics from the 19th century, and lots more.

This evening, Dr. Gibb took a longitudinal view of this well-examined property and tied the conclusions from all the fieldwork together to provide a broader interpretation of  ways to look at the Landing.  The room was full of serious, knowledgeable researchers and they had lots of questions about the reports for Dr. Gibb, as well as some insightful interpretations of their own. One of the most informative exchanges concerned the nature of the small earthen fort or redoubt that was at Elk Landing.  As the bicentennial of the War of 1812 nears, there’s lot of interest and specualtion about that specific element and Dr. Gibb drew on other projects that have examined smaller, rural defenses during the Revolution and the War of 1812 to present generalized concepts.

Elk Landing is one of the most studied historic sites around and there’s lots of valuable information for anyone interested in the history of that priceless piece of property.   Many of them are posted on the Elk Landing website.   We’re pleased we were able to catch this program to hear another perspective on the interpretations of investigations that have been going on for nearly a generation.  Elk Landing is fortunate to have such valuable insights to help guide restoration and interpretation, as many other historic sites in Cecil County have far less information.

The old stone house at Elk Landing as it appeared in the 1960s. Near the southwest corner of the house, state archeaologist unearthed a cannon ball and were able to provide some insight on where Fort Hollingsworth would have been situated in one of their reports. There are also some newspaper accounts describing the fort.


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