Archaeology Program

Montgomery Park’s Archaeology Program identifies, manages, and interprets archaeological sites on parkland and provides opportunities to consider the effects of land use decisions on cultural resources. Excavations contribute to public education programs, restorations, park development plans and mitigation of construction projects.

The program provides for the stewardship of non-renewable archaeological resources and an opportunity for public participation in discovering our human past right in your back yard.

Learn more about On-going Projects, Volunteer Opportunities, Events and Camps, and Metal Detecting in Parks and how to join the Archaeology Club.


The Archaeology Program is working on several on-going research and education projects to explore the past in Montgomery County. These include:

Josiah Henson Site

Located in North Bethesda, this is the site where the Reverend Josiah Henson –  an escaped slave, minister, abolitionist, and late 19th-century celebrity – was enslaved between c. 1800-1830. This area was once known as the Riley Farm and covered almost 300 acres, Montgomery Parks owns the Riley residence and about 2 of the surrounding acres.

On-going archaeological excavations have revealed that parts of the Riley plantation remain intact, covered by the green lawns of modern suburban lots.

Parks staff members Jamie Kuhns and Cassandra Michaud gave a presentation at the 2015 Montgomery County History Conference on the current research.

Time Team America at Josiah Henson Park!

“The Search For Josiah Henson” – PBS Documentary
The Josiah Henson Park archaeological site was one of four American sites selected in 2012 by Time Team America for inclusion in their second season. Time Team America brought their high-tech equipment to help us learn more about a very special man in American history, the Reverend Josiah Henson. Henson was a former slave whose autobiography inspired the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Visit the Time Team America website to learn more about “The Search for Josiah Henson.” Explore the over-the-archaeologists’-shoulder view of discoveries made at our very own Josiah Henson Park in the documentary, “The Search for Josiah Henson!

Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park

Oakley Cabin is a 19th century African American historical archaeological site in Brookeville, Maryland. Montgomery Parks archaeologists have been investigating the area around the existing cabin, as well as two adjacent cabins that once stood along Brookeville Road. Thanks to a grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, Montgomery Parks can revisit Oakley’s extensive archaeological collection. The goal is to catalog and analyze the artifacts that have been recovered over the years and continue to research the vibrant African American community that lived here during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Bussard Farm House Kitchen

Parks Archaeologists excavated under the kitchen wing of this structure during the recent renovations by CRSS. The goal of the excavation was to identify any previous structures, and to aid in the interpretation of Bussard Farm House through the artifacts. Excavations revealed a chimney collapse from the original farm house, as well as thousands of artifacts related to the late 18th-19th century residents’ lives, including buttons, pins, animal bones, ceramic items, and glass ware. Artifacts from the site are in the process of being cataloged and analyzed, and will help tell the story of life at the Bussard Farm.

Zeigler Log House

During the last few years, Montgomery College students and Montgomery Parks Archaeology Camp participants have unearthed clues about the Zeigler Log House’s past. These clues, in the form of artifacts and features, are giving us a glimpse into the lives of the people who lived at the site for over 180 years. We have concentrated on the back and side yards of the house and have found traces of outbuildings and walkways. We are just at the beginning of cataloging and analyzing the data. Our goal is to complete the picture of life on a historic rural farm in northern Montgomery County.

Palmer-Robinson Rockshelter

Located along the Potomac River and used at various times during the past 5000 years, this rockshelter was excavated in the early 2000s. Artifacts recovered include projectile points, Native American ceramic fragments, animal bone, and debitage (waste material from the manufacture of stone tools). The current project involves analyzing the artifacts and highlighting this little-known period of Montgomery County’s past through a report and public displays.


Volunteers are one of our best assets! We encourage the involvement and participation of individuals of all ages in this program.

How you can Participate

Needwood Archaeology Lab Volunteers
Needwood Mansion, 6700 Needwood Road, Derwood, MD | Wednesdays | 9:30 am – 2:30 pm

We are currently cataloging artifacts from a variety of projects. Volunteers can also participate in public outreach programs throughout the year, and excavations during the summer.

Camps and High School Programs

Since 1984, High School students have broadened their curriculum through our award-winning volunteer program specifically aimed at younger audiences.

Archaeology Society of Maryland, Mid-Potomac Chapter

You can also join in the fun through a cooperative venture with Archaeological Society of Maryland (ASM) Mid-Potomac chapter. Visit http://www.asmmidpotomac.org/ for more information.

Please contact us for additional information.


Family Archaeology Experience

Zeigler Log House, Little Bennett Regional Park
Saturday, April 1 (one class), Saturday, May 20 (one class) |10 am – 11:30 am |$5 per person | Reservations required

Bring the whole family out for a hands-on experience at an active archaeological dig! Prepare to get your hands dirty making new discoveries as professional archaeologists introduce you to archaeological techniques and talk about what you can learn from the artifacts you might find.

Enjoy a tour of the historic Ziegler Log House, where you will have the opportunity to investigate clues hidden inside the house that reveal secrets about its historic residents.

Children under 16 must be accompanied by a participating adult.

Spring Break Camp for Kids

Agricultural History Farm Park Activity Center, 18400 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD
April 10 through 14 | 9 am – 3 pm | Ages 9 to 13 – no extended care

Family Archaeology Day

Needwood Mansion, 6700 Needwood Road, Derwood, MD
Saturday, May 6 | 10 am – 3 pm | $10 per person or $20 family at the park

Needwood Mansion opens its doors to the public for a day of investigating archaeology. Visitors are invited to see and experience what archaeologists do. Watch archaeologists at work on the Needwood Excavation and try your hand at a simulated excavation, while the younger set digs in mock excavation pits. Bring a bag lunch and stay for the day!

Join the costumed interpreters in a tour of the 1854 “Sunnyside” house. Visit the Civil War Surgeon Dr. Stonestreet and soldiers encamped in the yard. An introduction to archaeology for all ages, Family Archaeology Day features:

  • 19th-century Slave Quarters Dig Exhibit
  • Mansion Tours
  • Simulated Archaeology Dig for Children
  • Storytelling, Old-time games and Crafts

Summer Camps for Kids and More

Needwood Mansion, 6700 Needwood Road, Derwood, MD
Find out what it takes to be an archaeologist! Investigate Montgomery County’s history from the ground up with archeologists from M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks. We host Summer Camps, Extended Care sessions and Leadership Workshops. Additional information such as camp registration numbers and fees can be found at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org.

Archaeology camps are approved for SSL hours and fulfill most requirements for a Boy Scout Archaeology Merit Badge.

Archaeology Leadership Training

June 19 – June 30 | Monday – Friday | 8:00 am to 4:00 pm | Ages 14 and up
Want to become an awesome camp counselor, get hands-on archaeological experience and earn Student Service Learning (SSL) hours? Sign up for this ten-day workshop! In the first week, you’ll learn the basics of archaeological methods, get CPR training, and practice creating and planning camp activities.

The second week we’ll dig into the real thing! You’ll work with campers, and have an opportunity to ask questions and get feedback in our counselors’ afternoon roundtables. Register at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org.

Day Camps for Kids

June 26 through August 4 | Monday through Friday | 9:00 am to 3:00 pm | Ages 9 to 13
Get a hands-on introduction to archaeology in this 5-day camp. Work side-by-side with Park Archaeologists on a live archaeological site, and do what archaeologists do. You’ll dig it! Reduced fees are available for qualified applicants. Register at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org.

Extended Care Sessions

June 26 through August 4 | Monday through Friday | 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm | Ages 9 to 13
Kids can practice their atlatl skills (a prehistoric hunting weapon), go on a scavenger hunt, take a paddleboat ride on Lake Needwood, play a board game and more during this supervised free time. Register at ActiveMONTGOMERY.org.

Brought to you by: M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks and The Archaeology Society of Maryland, Mid-Potomac Chapter. These events are neither sponsored nor endorsed by the Board of Education of Montgomery County, the superintendent or school.


The Montgomery Parks Rules and Regulations on metal detecting and digging on park property is outlined in CHAPTER V: Regulation of General Conduct and Personal Behavior (Code of Conduct) under Section 19. “Metal Detectors, Digging: Using metal detectors and/or digging into the surface of Park Property is prohibited except by permit.”


Richard Montgomery High School, 250 Richard Montgomery Dr., Rockville MD 20852
Thursdays | 2:15 pm to 3:15 pm

This cooperative venture is based at Richard Montgomery High School but is open to all interested high school students. Club members will have the opportunity to do field work with Parks archaeologists approximately monthly.

For more information about joining the Archaeology club, please contact Mr. Robert Hines, Club Supervisor in the Richard Montgomery High School, Social Studies Department at 301-279-8400.

Last Updated: June 15, 2017