The Brafferton Project

If you've been on the 'ancient campus' recently, you cannot have failed to notice the orange netting, plastic sheets, wheel barrows and neatly excavated holes in the ground that proclaim 'archaeology!' to anyone in the know.  The center of this activity is the building known as the Brafferton.  Recently it has housed the President's and Provost's offices, but it was originally built in 1723 as an Indian school under the terms of a bequest which used income from the manor of Brafferton to support the school.  The Anthropology Department, along with the College administration and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, is engaged in a multi-faceted project which is investigating a number of aspects of the Brafferton's past and it's underlying meanings, in the process reasserting the long continuing relationship between the College and Virginia's Native communities.

Years before this formal process began, Dr. Danielle Moretti-Langholtz of our department was at Lambeth Palace in London researching the Church of England's Brafferton archive.  It was the logical outcome of her years of working with Virginia Indian tribes, an attempt to make more specific and more concrete the long invoked relationship between William and Mary and the tribes.  Her research led her to contact some of the Indian peoples mentioned in the archives, and to reach out to recent American Indian graduates of the College.

Then, last year, the literal Brafferton was brought to the College's attention in a not-so-good way -- a leaking foundation which could not be ignored.  The result was a project which contains many threads -- archaeology, fund raising, and the opportunity for a reaffirmation of College-Indian relations.  Below you will find links to a variety of stories showing how the project is progressing.

Prayer Bundle The Brafferton Project was initiated with a Prayer Bundle ceremony last May.
Ashley Atkins Anthropology PhD student and Pamunkey Indian Ashley Atkins has been working on the dig.
Brafferton Dig The excavation was the subject of one of the Department's three field schools.
WMCAR Dig Excavation has revealed a number of previously unknown structures in the area of the Brafferton.