Mattapany (18ST390) was the 17th-century home of Charles Calvert, the third Lord Baltimore and Proprietor of Maryland, as well as the location of the colony’s main weapons magazine. The site, once part of a 1200-acre manor, is located near the mouth of the Patuxent River aboard what is today the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Although documentary evidence indicates that Europeans had established a presence on the property by 1637, it appears that 18ST390 was first occupied around 1663, when Henry Sewall, Secretary of Maryland, acquired the manor. After Sewall’s death in 1665, Charles Calvert married his widow Jane and moved to Mattapany. The property remained in the Sewall/Calvert family until the 19th century, but 18ST390 was abandoned by the 1740s, when a new manor house was built a few hundred yards away. The colonial magazine was no longer used after the mid-1690s. By the 1770s, Mattapany was described as being in ruins.
As the home of the Maryland proprietor, Mattapany represents the uppermost stratum of 17th-century Chesapeake society. Yet it was also the home of numerous servants and slaves, and a garrison of up to 39 troops was at times stationed at the magazine. Mattapany could boast of one of the largest population concentrations in the colony. The interactions that played out between elite planters and middling freeman, servants, and slaves can be observed in the archaeological record of 18ST390. Mattapany provides a baseline against which all other 17th-century sites can be compared. The documentary record for Mattapany, richer than that of most 17th-century sites in Maryland, adds to the research value of 18ST390, and makes it one of the most significant collections at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, where it is presently curated.
The ruins of Mattapany attracted a number of visitors in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and some apparently collected artifacts from the area. Formal investigations of 18ST390 began in 1981-82 as part of a survey of the Naval Air Station conducted by Dennis Pogue. Pogue excavated 269 shovel test pits across the site at 10-foot intervals, screening the soil through ¼-inch mesh. He then excavated 23 5-by-5-foot test units and two smaller test units, also screened through ¼-inch mesh. Many of the units were contiguous, forming several trench-like excavation blocks. Four large trash-filled pits, a structural post hole and mold, and a possible brick clamp were among the features exposed at 18ST390. Later research suggested that the area Pogue excavated was the location of the colonial magazine.
Between 1991 and 1997, archaeologists from the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, led by Julia King and Edward Chaney, expanded the investigations at 18ST390. The work was funded by the Naval Air Station’s Natural Resources Branch and the Department of Defense’s Legacy Resources Program. The purpose of these projects was to better define the boundaries of the site, to look for additional archaeological resources nearby, and to uncover information about the structures that once stood at Mattapany. An additional 258 shovel test pits spaced across the site at 25-foot intervals were screened through ¼-inch mesh. The results greatly enlarged the site’s boundary to the west. A major artifact concentration 100 yards from the area Pogue excavated proved to be the location of Lord Baltimore’s house. A total of 71 5-by-5-foot test units were excavated here, along with 12 new test units in the area where Pogue had worked in the early 1980s. All soils were screened through ¼-inch mesh in an effort to get a plow zone sample suitable for artifact distribution mapping. All cultural materials were retained, except for whole bricks and brick bats from the cellars, which were weighed and measured in the field, with a sample collected for permanent curation. All small fragments of brick and mortar rubble from the cellars were taken to the lab to be washed, counted, and weighed, but only a 10 percent sample was permanently retained.
The excavations exposed enough of Lord Baltimore’s house to demonstrate that it was a substantial, roughly 25-by-50-foot masonry building with a full cellar, decorative brickwork, and tin-glazed tile around the fireplace. Limited testing in the cellar showed that it had a whitewashed ceramic tile floor. An outbuilding, possibly a kitchen, with a brick-floored cellar, was located next to the main house. A large palisade fence linked the two buildings and formed a yard south of the house. Smaller paling fences, structural posts, and trash pits were found around the buildings.
Pogue recovered over 2,200 artifacts during his excavations, a total that does not include oyster shell or architectural objects, which were found in great quantity, then counted, weighed, and discarded in the field (hundreds of pounds of brick in some proveniences). The artifacts suggest an occupation range of c. 1660-1700, which fits well with the known use period of the magazine. Tin-glazed earthenwares constitute half of the 573 ceramic sherds recovered. Dutch, German, and Spanish stonewares and earthenwares were found in abundance, along with locally-made pottery. English Staffordshire and North Devon products were less common. Among the notable small finds was a copper alloy coin weight used to measure English “Half Angel” gold coins minted between 1605 and 1616. Other objects include a nearly complete glass wine bottle, decorative table glass, a bone die, a copper tobacco box lid, a brass candlestick, a lead-filled gun barrel fragment, 38 pieces of lead shot, a large iron buckle, a flat iron, a hammer head, a hoe, and a draw knife. The amount of domestic material recovered by Pogue might seem surprising for a magazine site, but a large garrison lived there at times, and it may well have served as a dwelling for servants. It is also possible that the magazine building was originally Henry Sewall’s house, assuming that Charles Calvert built his own residence there.
The 1990s excavations recovered over 360,000 artifacts from 18ST390, with architectural items being by far the most abundant. Among the architectural artifacts found at the Calvert house site were ornamental rubbed and gauged brick (used in jackarches over windows or doors), Dutch yellow fireplace brick, manganese painted tin-glazed fireplace tile of a style fashionable among the elite of southern Maryland in the mid-1670s, roofing pantile, ceramic flooring tile, hearthstones, fine wall plaster, and window glass and lead cames. Together, these items reveal that Calvert’s house was an impressive structure, much more elaborate than was typical for his contemporaries, but fitting for the Proprietor of the colony. The recovery of white salt-glazed stoneware and other 18th-century artifacts indicate that the occupation of the house went on well past that of the magazine, as is also suggested by historical records. Among the interesting small finds from the site was a second coin weight, this one dated 1606 and used for a gold coin called the “Albertus,” minted in the Spanish Netherlands. Coin weights are extremely rare on 17th-century Maryland sites, and the recovery of two at Mattapany reflects the site’s role in collecting fees from ships entering the Patuxent River, as well as Lord Baltimore’s efforts to get the Maryland settlers to use coinage instead of tobacco as currency. Other small finds include a number of copper alloy leather ornaments, brass furniture tacks, and buttons and buckles. At the magazine site, a number of musket balls were found, including 78 from one unit, along with several possible gun parts.
Chaney, Edward E. 1999. Phase I Archaeological Investigations Near Mattapany, Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Report prepared for the Department of Public Works, Naval Air Station, Patuxent River. Manuscript on file, Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, St. Leonard.
Chaney, Edward E., and Julia A. King. 1999. “A Fair House of Brick and Timber”: Archaeological Excavations at Mattapany-Sewall (18ST390), Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Report prepared for the Department of Public Works, Naval Air Station, Patuxent River. Manuscript on file, Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, St. Leonard.
King, Julia A., and Edward E. Chaney. 2004. Lord Baltimore’s Neighborhood: Standards of Living on the 17th-Century Patuxent Frontier. Avalon Chronicles 8:261-283.
King, Julia A., and Edward E. Chaney. 1999. Lord Baltimore and the Meaning of Brick Architecture in Seventeenth-Century Maryland. In Geoff Egan and Ronald L. Michael, eds., Old and New Worlds, pp. 51-60. Oxbow Books, Oxford, England.
Pogue, Dennis J. 1987. Seventeenth-Century Proprietary Rule and Rebellion: Archaeology at Charles Calvert’s Mattapany-Sewall. Maryland Archeology 23(1): 1-37.
Pogue, Dennis J. 1983. Patuxent River Naval Air Station Cultural Resources Survey, Volume I: Archaeology and History. Report prepared for the Public Works Department, Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland.
Further Information on the Collection
The Mattapany collection is owned by the United States Navy and curated by the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory. For more information about the collection and collection access, contact Sara Rivers Cofield, Federal Collections Manager, at 410-586-8589; email SRivers-Cofield@mdp.state.md.us.
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
Cite this Record
Mattapany (18ST390). ( tDAR id: 6068) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8N017WB
Calendar Date: 1660 to 1740
min long: -77.498; min lat: 36.633 ; max long: -75.41; max lat: 39.368 ;
Individual & Institutional Roles
Contact(s): Julia King