Wessel Site (18CA21)

The Wessel Site (18CA21) is comprised of Archaic and Woodland components, possibly representing base camp or hamlet occupations. This site is situated near the head of tidewater on a low sandy terrace on the east bank of Tuckahoe Creek, in Caroline County, Maryland. It is located within the boundaries of Tuckahoe State Park. Prior to archaeological investigations, much of the site had been destroyed by a sand and gravel pit and to some extent by historic plowing. Portions of the former farmland have been reforested.

In early 1970, staff members at the Maryland Geological Survey (MGS), Division of Archaeology, were informed of the location of the Wessel Site. For several years, the site was collected by a former landowner and another collector. The private collections included axe heads, a bannerstone, projectile points and knives, and ceramics. Archaeologists from MGS visited the site in late 1971. At the time of the 1971 site visit, the location was abandoned farm land, was partly reforested, and a portion was used as a gravel pit/mine. Tuckahoe State Park, then not open to the public, was under development. Plans for the park included a recreation lake which would eventually inundate the site. The site was also facing destruction during the construction of a dam a short distance downstream.

In November 1971, staff from MGS and volunteers from the Mid-Shore Chapter of the Archaeological Society of Maryland conducted a 2 day investigation of the site. Unfortunately, no report is available that details the 1971 study. A total of 13 one-meter square units were excavated.

In the spring of 1974, the site was further excavated as part of the Maryland Archaeological Field Session. Goals of the investigation were to recover a larger data set to be used for developing a local sequence of point and pottery types and for determining the organization and settlement structure of the camp/village. A total of 14 two-meter square test units were excavated; all but two were dug to sterile levels before being backfilled. Unfortunately, no report is available that details the 1974 study.

In addition, the Tuckahoe State Park Archaeological Survey was initiated by the Maryland Geological Survey (MGS) subsequent to the short excavations and investigations in 1971 and 1974 by MGS personnel. The work was to be conducted ahead of proposed construction within the park. The Phase I investigations were conducted in 1974 immediately following the Phase II investigations of the Wessel Site (18CA21). That report briefly characterized the landscape of the site and provided a short re-examination of materials collected during the 1971 testing at the site.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)


  • Field Records
  • n.d.. Original Field Records for 18CA21.

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