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Archaeologists finding historic artifacts at Greenfield site

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BOTETOURT COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Archaeologists from across the state are working to uncover the history beneath the soil at the Greenfield Preston Plantation.

Botetourt County is allowing them to work on the site that in less than a month is scheduled for demolition.

It was the work of the group Friends of the Greenfield Preston Plantation that brought the archaeologists to Botetourt.

The group has been raising money and is paying for the archaeological survey.

Wednesday, crews of volunteers uncovered plate shards, building materials, gun flints, and the foundations of buildings from the 1700's, all in an effort to preserve the artifacts before any construction gets underway.

Now, those archaeologists say some of the first European settlers made their home at Greenfield in the mid-1700's, and volunteers are working to save a goldmine of historical artifacts.

"We've got a hearth with sewing implements being found on it. That tells a story," said Project Director Keith Adams with the company Hurt and Proffitt.

Adams says that story is about the slaves who lived and worked on the property.

"The fact that we're digging, for example, a possible slave quarter gives you another half of the history, it's going to develop the history of a substantial portion of the population that's undocumented," said Adams.

Adams and his team were joined by the President of the Council of Virginia Archaeologists, Jack Gary.

"It's immensely important to understanding the history of our state. These are the people who there's very little documentary record. The archaeology gives a voices to these folks," said Gary.

Adams says he's willing to donate much of his effort to make sure those voices are heard for years to come.

"A lot of my work will be done for little or nothing, but that's okay, that's just, it's, the reason we're doing this is the historical importance of the site," said Adams.

A site that's in the middle of an industrial park, and scheduled for development.

"This hilltop will be 20 feet shorter by sometime after the 10th of June," said Adams.

Botetourt County plans to put a 100,000 square foot building right where these findings are being uncovered.

"Many sites associated with slaves have fallen to the bulldozer and nothing's been recorded of them, so when we have the opportunity to record them and to understand them," said Gary.

Gary and Adams are working quickly to uncover what they can in the time the county has allotted.

Adams says it's the right thing to do.

"You're leaving something behind for people, for the future, for an educational resource," said Adams.

The Friends of the Greenfield Preston plantation say right now they have enough money raised to fund the excavation for one week, and are actively raising more.

To help, you can donate to their cause on the group's crowdrise page.