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City of Richmond, VA

Preliminary Archaeological Investigation, 2006

In April 2006, JRIA conducted a preliminary archaeological investigation of the Lumpkin’s Jail Site. Three test trenches encompassing 600 square feet were excavated with heavy construction equipment. Excavators encountered the solid concrete foundation of a former section of the Seaboard Railroad depot building and a number of underground utilities, some of which were active and had to be avoided. JRIA archaeologists closely monitored the mechanical excavation of the test trenches and halted the machines at a depth where they observed possible intact mid-nineteenth-century layers. Soil layers clearly associated with the former Seaboard building extension and the Richmond Iron Works were noted, and it was assumed that any stratum below the ironworks level might reasonably be associated with the Lumpkin era occupation. The depth of this layer, which was observed in all three trenches, was between five and ten feet below modern ground level.

The preliminary investigation results clearly indicated that cultural deposits dating from the 1830s through the 1870s survived intact beneath later fill and destruction layers. No definitive evidence of the Lumpkin’s Jail building itself was observed; however, a number of significant features, including a river cobble paving surface and possible structural foundation were identified as well as a large collection of artifacts dating from the Lumpkin period of occupation. In addition, it also appeared that preservation within this sealed context was excellent, with organic materials such as wood and leather surviving in remarkably good condition.

2008 Archaeology at Lumpkin's Jail >