Fairfield Plantation volunteer vacation archaeology Adventure in Preservation

Adventure Details

Project Full! Registration Closed

US$590 for one week

Scholarships available
Discounts! Past participants 10% off the full tour fee
Check out AiP's Loyalty Program

Additional Cost Information:
All costs are per person and based on double occupancy
Single Supplement additional US$300 per week

Your fee includes:

  • Double occupancy lodging
  • Breakfasts and lunches
  • Excursions
  • Insurance while working at the site
  • Training and materials

Participants are responsible for:

  • Transportation to Gloucester, Virginia
  • Visas, if needed
  • Travel health insurance, if coming from outside the US.

Project Leaders:
Dave Brown
Co-Director of The Fairfield Foundation, Dave has a Master’s degree in History/Historical Archaeology. He has taught and worked in the field of archaeology since 1994, including five years with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Thane Harpole
Thane is co-Director of The Fairfield Foundations and owner of DATA Investigations LLC, a cultural resource management company with over thirty years combined experience in archaeology.

Ray Cannetti
Ray is a leading US specialist working with historic brick and stone masonry. He is also a professionally trained stone carver. Several of his most recognizable projects are those at Mount Vernon, Montpelier Station, and Colonial Williamsburg. 


Project Partners:
The Fairfield Foundation
The Fairfield Foundation, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to archaeological and historical research, public education and preservation in Gloucester Country. Centered at the 17th- and 18th-century plantation and ancestral home of the Burwell family, Fairfield, the foundation contributes to knowledge of plantation life and supports the preservation of historic resources within the region.

Linking Archaeology with Preservation at Fairfield Plantation

Return to Upcoming Adventures

Date: August 25-31, 2013 – Fully Booked. Please join us in Gloucester next year!

Imagine the bustle of plantation life in colonial Virginia before the American Revolution.  Experience the thrill of re-discovering this history at Fairfield Plantation. Fairfield Fairfield Plantation Virginia archaeology volunteer project fieldwork Adventures in Preservationshowcased one of Virginia’s magnificent manor houses, an architectural enigma once surrounded by 7,000 acres of tobacco fields and forestland at the heart of Gloucester County, just north of Williamsburg.

Five generations of the Burwell family lived at Fairfield, designing the landscape and controlling the environment to their own benefit. Their story includes the lives of many enslaved African and African-Americans who were forced to labor for the Burwell’s financial success, but experienced a very different and fascinating life of their own.

Today, Fairfield Plantation exists as a large, flat agricultural field fringed by forest. Two small groves of trees mark the remains of a cemetery and the ruins of the 1694 manor house, dismantled after a disastrous fire in 1897. All that remains of the house is its substantial brick foundation and rubble-filled cellar.

Volunteers like you are helping uncover fascinating glimpses into a world seldom recorded in historical documents. Excavations are revealing the long-lost layout and design of the manor house, but they also create the challenge of preserving what remains of this historic structure for the future.

This project is a rare opportunity to try your hand in the fields of both archaeology and historic preservation. Activities include instruction in excavation technique with specific attention to documenting uncovered architectural fabric of the manor house. Team members will take part in a demonstration making a “hot mix” mortar from burned shell. You will then learn brick laying techniques, practicing typical bond patterns, such as English and Flemish bond.

Fairfield archaeology fieldwork volunteer vacation  Adventures in PreservationThe goal is to uncover and document information that helps visitors understand the significance of this manor house and how it related to the landscape and affected the lives of the owners and the enslaved workers who toiled at Fairfield for over two hundred years.

If you have experience working at archaeological sites, please let us know. We are also interested to hear if you have skill in photography, sketching or video work. No experience is required, however. All volunteers are welcome.

How You Will Help the Community
Your participation will:

  • Enhance the visitor experience at Fairfield Plantation
  • Further research into the site’s complex history, increasing the quality of education provided during site visits
  • Draw more tourists to visit the site, thus supporting the regional economy

Why This Could Be The Greatest Adventure of Your Life

Spend a week with AiP and The Fairfield Foundation and:

  • Explore a plantation site chock full of hidden mysteries waiting to be uncovered
  • Learn from experts in both archaeology and historic preservation
  • Hang out with Dave and Thane, the great guys who founded and run The Fairfield Foundation

With our project just up the road from Williamsburg and historic Jamestown, you can  spend the weekend before or after immersed in the Colonial era.

Lodging and Cost
Volunteers from out-of-town will stay at the Hampton Inn in Gloucester. If you would prefer to upgrade to one of several historic B&B’s in the area, contact us. Cost of upgrade to a B&B is dependent on availability; a list is provided upon request. A special Resident Rate of US$250 is available for Fairfield Foundation members and residents of Gloucester County. The Student Rate, for current students not requiring lodging, is US$150.

Scholarships are available to provide low or no-cost participation, and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, weighted towards low-income volunteers and students.

Breakfast is served at the Hampton Inn. Lunches will be provided from one of the many fine dining establishments located nearby, either on-site or as a “break from the heat” mid-day excursion.  Dinners are at your own expense, but we often go as a group.

Rosewell ruins virginia cultural heritage travel AiP excursions broaden your volunteer experience, adding to the adventure and giving you a greater understanding and appreciation for the region’s history. We will take a walking tour of the Gloucester Courthouse Circle and the Downtown Historic District with a focus on the adaptive re-use project ongoing at the 1930 Edge Hill Service Station.  Afternoon/evening tours of Werowocomoco (home of Pocahontas) and the magnificent Rosewell ruins, where Thomas Jefferson was a frequent visitor, will keep you busy throughout the week.

Add to the Adventure
Saturday, August 31, you can join a behind-the-scenes tour of Williamsburg arranged exclusively for AiP volunteers. The tour will mark the end of your AiP project, but you may make arrangements to further explore Colonial Williamsburg on your own.

Travel Details
If you are arriving by air, the closest airport is Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (30 minute drive). Less expensive, yet relatively close alternatives include Norfolk International and Richmond International (both are 90 minute drives). Rental cars are available at each destination. If you prefer not to rent a car, pick up from the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport can be arranged.

If you would like assistance with travel arrangements, contact Peace Frogs Travel/Outfitters, AiP’s partnering travel agency.

Take the next step toward adventure.
Register today! 

If you have any questions or would like to chat with an AiP staff member about joining this volunteer vacation, contact us at trips@adventuresinpreservation.org or call +1 303-444-0128.