Crews complete second round of archaeological digs at Botetourt County business park

Crews looking at an area on south end of property where gardens once stood

BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. – Crews are once again looking for historic clues at Botetourt's Greenfield Business Park. The site was once home to a historic plantation and, some believe Native Americans prior to that.

They're looking for anything that they can use to pull some sort of date from as a good starting point. The area they're searching this time around was a lower priority area because it was outside of the footprint of the building the county built last year. But now they're going back and seeing what else might be on the property.

With near surgical precision every step of the way, digging in this ground is truly something of an exact science.

"In looking at the reports that had been done prior to now, we realized that nobody had done any testing out on the terraces," Hurt and Proffitt Cultural Resources Director Randy Lichtenberger said.

The Friends of Greenfield are looking for clues on what once was on the site in Botetourt County now anchored by Ballast Point, Altec, Eldor and a shell building waiting for its first tenant. They believe elaborate setups, known as Jefferson Gardens, were dug into the hillside by hand. When you're on the site it's clear to see something was there, as massive steps great you. The people were on site are sifting for even older things too.

"To know that we can find some things that were touched by people thousands of years ago is just awe, awe inspiring," Friends of Greenfield board member Judy Morris said.

This is the second dig on the site. The first was two years ago when the county announced it was moving slave quarters from what was once the Preston Plantation to make room for a new building. The whole thing became a point of debate for many, but the county said all long it has been committed to the cause.

If another developer at the time had purchased the land, we might not be having this conversations here because there wouldn't have been any question at the time, so the county has always set aside the historical preservation area," county spokesman Cody Sexton said.

Whatever artifacts they find this time around will go in that preservation area, a museum of sorts highlighting what was once here. Because for many, what was at the site, is just as important as what's still to come.

​This is a big part of the story, this is a big part of the site, so we want to be able to tell as complete a story as we can about the site and in the end these will be a part of that.," Lichtenberger said.

Crews wrapped up with the dig at the end of last week. They'll be writing up a full report with all the findings to present to the county early next year

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