Antenna Field (18ST386)


The Antenna Field site (18ST386) is located on the former Jesuit plantation of St. Inigoes in St. Mary's County, Maryland. In the 1980s, planned construction at the Naval Electronic Systems Engineering Activity (NESEA) (former Patuxent River Naval Air Station Webster Field Annex) required archaeological survey of this and adjacent fields. The survey resulted in part in the identification of two colonial domestic sites at Antenna Field: 18ST386 and 18ST541. King and Pogue (1985) described 18ST386 as a late-17th century site that may have been occupied by indentured servants or tenant farmers from ca. 1660 to 1690. The site's artifact assemblage and its location on poor soil suggest that the site was not the residence of the plantation's Jesuit owners. As a servant or tenant occupation, the Antenna Field site can potentially reveal the material conditions of life for a poorly understood stratum of colonial society.

St. Inigoes Manor was first acquired by the Jesuits in 1636, when Richard Gerard sold the property to Father Thomas Copley. This portion of the property remained in the possession of the Jesuits until 1942, when they sold the land to the United States Navy; the Jesuits retained ownership of the balance until 2009. The manor's earliest colonial occupation appears to have been about 1636 at the Old Chapel Field site (18ST233). At about the time Old Chapel Field was abandoned (ca. 1660), the Antenna Field was occupied, although not, as noted earlier, by the Jesuit owners.

The site was occupied during a time in Maryland when planters could focus on building wealth through tobacco cultivation. St. Inigoes Manor functioned as a kind of home plantation for the Jesuits' other manors located throughout the colony and the residents of the Antenna Field site very likely helped produce tobacco and food crops for the mission effort.

Archaeological Investigations

In 1982, Michael A. Smolek of the Maryland Historical Trust's Southern Maryland Regional Center excavated 71 shovel test pits in the field containing the Antenna Field site.

In April 1985, archaeologists Julia A. King and Dennis J. Pogue conducted a controlled surface collection of the Antenna Field site in advance of Navy construction activities. The field containing the site was plowed and then disked before being divided into 375 10-by-10 foot squares. Typically, surface collection proceeds after a heavy rainfall exposes artifacts on the ground's surface but that spring was unusually dry (King and Pogue 1985:5). This technique was applied to all areas of the field excepting areas containing existing antennas, a ravine, and soil unsuitable for plowing.

As part of the 1985 investigations, King and Pogue borrowed and cataloged a collection made by an employee in the facility. This collection included materials from 18ST286 and a nearby 18th-century domestic site, 18ST541. Because of the mixed nature of these materials, they are not included in the database but can be found in King and Pogue 1985 (pp. 71-74).

In 1996, under the direction of Julia A. King and Edward E. Chaney, shovel tests were excavated at the site and 69 were found to be positive.

In 2013, the Louis Berger Group excavated 18 test units measuring 3-by-3 feet at the site. Excavators identified two middens and a trash pit. The materials from the 2013 investigations are not included in the database.


A total of 1,541 artifacts from 446 contexts from the Antenna Field site are found in the database. These artifacts include ceramics, tobacco pipes, bottle glass, architectural artifacts, metal, lithics, and faunal remains. Oyster shell forms the largest category of material with 901 fragments (the majority of these fragments were counted and discarded in the field).

The artifacts recovered from 18ST386 corroborate the established date range, with most of the ceramic and tobacco pipes collected dating to ca. 1660-1690. Archaeologists did not recover any artifact that could be firmly dated to pre-1650 or the 18th century. The 118 white clay and five red clay tobacco pipe fragments support the site's 17th-century occupation date; the Binford date for the 68 measurable white pipe stems is 1663, while the date suggested by the Harrington histogram is 1660-1690.

Ceramics include 71 fragments, 16 of which date to the late 18th and 19th centuries (nine refined earthenware and seven NAGS. Of the remaining 55 fragments, the majority (n=30) include unidentified coarse earthenwares. Diagnostic ceramic types include North Devon sgraffito (n=3), North Devon gravel-tempered (n=4), Staffordshire slipware (n=3), Buckley-like earthenware (n=8), tin-glazed earthenware (n=2), Rhenish brown stoneware (n=1), English brown stoneware (n=1), and white salt-glazed stoneware (n=1). Two ceramic fragments are Native-made, and are unidentified.

The distribution of ware types suggest an occupation date range of ca. 1660-1695 with some disturbance in the early and later 18th centuries.

Two tobacco pipe stems recovered from 18ST386 contained identifiable maker's marks. These stems are marked 'LE' and 'WIL EVANS,' respectively. The first maker's mark is attributed to Llewellin Evans, who worked in Bristol, England from 1661 to 1686; research by Katherine Cavallo (2004), however,has suggested that LE pipes were not arriving in the nearby Patuxent drainage until ca. 1670 and the same could betrue for the Potomac. The second pipe was made by one of two William Evanses practicing between the years 1660 and 1696.

Three white clay tobacco pipe stem fragments were recovered from a 10-by-10 foot surface collection unit well beyond the site's boundaries with no other associated colonial artifacts. The three pipe stem fragments had unusually small bore diameters for 17th-century pipes, each recorded at 5/64-inches. Two of the three fragments contained scratched or etched writing; text added after the pipes' manufacture and not to be confused with a maker's mark.

One stem was etched "D.R.," initials which have not yet been linked with certainty to any individual. The second pipe stem fragment was etched "JOHN LEWIS," with the accompanying date of "1666." Archival research has revealed that, by 1666, a planter and house-holder named John Lewis was residing on St. George's Manor, a nearby plantation also owned by the Jesuits (King and Pogue 1987:103). The third pipe stem was unmarked.

Architectural artifacts include 109 red brick fragments, 36 iron nails, 31 window glass fragments, and a single fragment each of mortar and daub. No yellow brick, roof or floor tile, fireplace tile, or window lead fragments were recovered. The brick, window glass, and nails were recovered from contexts concentrated within the site boundaries; combined, they indicate the presence of a 17th-century domestic structure. A possible kitchen refuse area was identified north of the architectural concentration, where King and Pogue found a high concentration of shell and domestic materials.

Additional artifacts recovered from 18ST386 include four bottle glass fragments, 1 iron buckle fragment, 1 iron strap fragment, and 14 bone fragments. Other artifacts include an iron buckle, lithic artifacts, and three iron strap fragments.


Cavallo, Katherine D. 2004. An Analysis of Marked and Decorated White Clay Tobacco Pipes from the Lower Patuxent Drainage. St. Mary's Project, St. Mary's College of Maryland, St. Mary's City. Available online in "A Comparative Archaeological Study of Colonial Chesapeake Culture" (

King, Julia A, and Dennis J Pogue. 1985. Archaeological Investigations at the "Antenna Field," St. Inigoes, Maryland. Prepared for Naval Electronic Systems Engineering Activity, St. Inigoes, MD. Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, St. Leonard, MD. Manuscript on file, St. Mary's College of Maryland.

King, Julia A, and Dennis J Pogue. 1987. An Unusual Pipe Stem Find from St. Inigoes Manor, Maryland. Historical Archaeology 21(1):102-104.

What You Need To Know To Use This Collection

The materials in the online catalog for the Antenna Field site include only those artifacts recovered in 1985 by King and Pogue and in 1996 by King and Chaney. Test units were excavated in 2013 but are not currently in the database. Researchers interested in these materials should contact Sara Rivers Cofield, Federal Collections Manager at the MAC Lab (see below).

Further Information About the Collection

The Antenna Field collection is owned by the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Naval District Washington 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

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