Newman's Neck (44NB180)


The Newman's Neck site (44NB180) is located on land patented by Robert Newman in 1651 as part of the Northern Neck's earliest English settlement at Chicacoan in Virginia. Situated on the southern shores of the Potomac River in Northumberland County, Virginia between Presley and Hull's creeks, the eight earthfast buildings found at the site included a manor house, kitchen, quarter, cellared building, two barns, and two small outbuildings. These structures are associated with the Neale and Haynie families' occupations, and the occupations of enslaved and indentured individuals and families, from the 1670s to the 1740s. The location of Robert Newman's earlier house has not been discovered. Inventories and a will provide important information about who was resident at the site, their material possessions, and plantation management strategies.

Newman's Neck is the most extensively excavated 17th-century plantation in Northumberland County, and one of only two on the Northern Neck for which substantial evidence of the domestic landscape has been documented. The Neales and their descendants were not political officeholders and were not in the same wealth bracket as their neighbors, including the Mottrom and Ball families. Although the final owner, William Haynie, was a wealthy man at the time of his death, through much of the site's occupation, the family can be characterized as middling freeholders who owned their own land and a small group of enslaved and indentured workers. The site provides important insight into the materiality of life for planters of middling status during a crucial period of demographic, social and political transition in the Potomac Valley.

Archaeological Investigations

Stephen Potter first identified the Newman's Neck site in 1978 during a pedestrian survey of the southern shores of the Potomac River for his dissertation on Native American settlement patterns. The site was threatened by the construction of residential housing and, in 1989, limited shovel testing was undertaken by staff at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR). No information about the results of the shovel test pit survey has been located. From May 1989 to January 1990, Charles Hodges supervised excavations at the site as a salvage project funded by VDHR's Threatened Sites Program. Plow zone was mechanically removed from the site in areas where surface variation in artifact density suggested the location of structures. The site was then gridded into 10-foot or 20-foot squares numbered by their grid coordinates. Groups of related features were given "structure numbers" and features discovered independent of structures were given separate provenience numbers. As the excavations were underway, Martha McCartney conducted extensive documentary research pertaining to the Newman family.

The fill of large features was screened through ¼-inch mesh and the entire fill of Features 4 and 112 was screened through both 1/4-inch and 1/16-inch mesh. Samples from some of the other features were treated this way. Some smaller features were not screened at all, and many landscape-related features were recorded but not excavated. Details for particular contexts can be found in Heath et al. (2009).

Hodges' work revealed the remains of a large plantation domestic core. Due to a lack of funding for analysis, a field report was produced by Hodges in 1990 but no systematic artifact analysis could be done at that time. In 2008 and 2009, Barbara Heath and anthropology students from the University of Tennessee reanalyzed the site and conducted additional archival research.

Heath and her students determined that there were two distinct phases of occupation at the site based on the site's landscape and artifact dates. The first phase of occupation (ca. 1670-1725) corresponds with the construction of the house by Daniel Neale and the occupations of Ebenezer Neale and John Haynie.

During this time, a 20-by-40-foot earthfast hall and chamber dwelling with a central chimney and a 12-by-21-foot addition was built. A 4-by-7.5-foot root cellar was located in the southern half of the manor house that was filled before 1720. There was also a kitchen/quarter to the south of the dwelling that measured 21 feet square. Two additional outbuildings stood during the first phase of occupation, including a tobacco barn and a well. Fence lines divided the yard east of the dwelling into roughly equal rectangles.

During the second phase of occupation, when William Haynie owned Newman's Neck (ca. 1725 to1747), the original barn was dismantled and the well was abandoned. Three new structures were built, including a cellar-set building, a large barn, and a new quarter. The landscape became more complex during this period, with fences subdividing the area around the manor house in a purposefully designed landscape.


Between the pedestrian survey conducted by Potter and the excavations led by Hodges, 6,488 non-faunal artifacts were recovered from Newman's Neck. Ceramic analysis was used to determine a terminus post quem of 1740 and to calculate a Mean Ceramic Date of 1717; a ceramic intersection of 1675 to 1740 was also determined, all of which correspond well with the hypothesized date range of 1672 to 1747 derived from the historical records.

Architectural remains comprised the largest group of recovered artifacts and include brick, lime, mortar, plaster, daub, nails, and window glass, some fragments of which likely formed a diamond-shaped pane. Bottle glass is well represented, with 189 fragments, including two partial wine bottle seals. A minimum of five wine bottles are present in the assemblage. The 431 ceramic sherds include North Devon gravel-tempered wares, which was the best represented, and North Devon gravel-free. Other types include Buckley earthenware, Manganese Mottled earthenware, redware, tin-glazed earthenware, and Westerwald or Rhenish blue and gray stoneware. The assemblage also includes 30 fragments of Morgan Jones and eleven pieces of colonoware. The minimum vessel count for the site was estimated to be 60 vessels. Brad Hatch has included the ceramics and faunal remains from the site in his study of changing definitions of early modern manhood in the 17th-century Potomac Valley.

Small finds consist of adornment and clothing-related items, including four beads, three buttons, an alloy ring set with three paste jewels, a buckle and aiglet, pins, and a scissors fragment. Artifacts relating to firearms include a possible gun barrel, lead shot and balls, and gun flint. Horse-related objects include a bit, buckle, spur, and possible bridle boss. The category of tools and work-related objects is comprised of a sickle, an iron heater, and a spoon.

The assemblage of 593 clay tobacco pipe fragments included 48 marked or decorated pipes of which eight are possibly Dutch. Two English pipe stems are marked "LE," probably for Llewellin Evans; one "WILEVANS" for William Evans I or II; and one "RT" for one of the Robert Tippets. Three fragments of locally-made red pipes were also found. Lauren McMillan has included Newman's Neck in her study of white and locally-made tobacco pipes, trade, and identity in the 17th-century Potomac River Valley.

The exploitation of domestic and wild animals is represented by 2,931 were faunal remains. Of these, 2,684 were excavated from features, 1,891 of which came from phase one feature contexts and 793 of which came from phase two contexts. Cattle bones predominate, followed by pig, fish, deer, sheep, and chicken.


Hatch, D. Brad. 2015. An Historical Archaeology of Early Modern Manhood in the Potomac River Valley of Virginia, 1645-1730. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Heath, Barbara J., Eleanor E. Breen, Dustin S. Lawson, and Daniel W. H. Brock. 2009. Archaeological Reassessment of Newman's Neck (44NB180). Report to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond, VA, from the Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN.

Heath, Barbara J. in press. Dynamic Landscapes: The Emergence of Formal Spaces in the Chesapeake. Historical Archaeology.

Hodges, Charles T. 1990. Excavations at 44NB180 and 44NB174: An Early English Colonial Plantation and Prehistoric Shell Midden in Northumberland County, Virginia. Contract #A900071. Report to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond, VA.

McCartney, Martha W. 1990. 44NB180 and Its Historical Continuum: Newman's Neck, Northumberland County, Virginia. Report on Archival Research. Report to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond, VA.

McMillan, Lauren. 2015. Politics, Conflict, and Exchange in the Chesapeake: An Archaeological and Historical Study of the Tobacco Pipe Trade in the Potomac Valley, ca. 1630-1730. Doctoral dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

What You Need To Know To Use This Collection

The Newman's Neck Site was occupied c. 1670-1740. A controlled surface collection was used to identify artifact concentrations. Plow zone was mechanically removed from the site. Some excavated features were screened, while others were not. Not all features were excavated.

Further Information About the Collection

The Newman's Neck collection is owned and curated by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. For more information about the collection and collection access, contact Laura Galke, Chief Curator, at 804-482-6441; email

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