The Hollingsworth Site (18CE29)

The Hollingsworth Farm Site (18CE29) consists of Late Archaic to Late Woodland base camp occupations and a prehistoric burial. It is located south of the city of Elkton in Cecil County.

The Hollingsworth Farm prehistoric site was recorded in 1970 by the Maryland Geological Survey with information from collectors. At that time, stemmed and side-notched Archaic points, soapstone bowl fragments, and thick prehistoric pottery sherds were noted at the site and in the informants’ collections. In 1980, Phase II testing was initiated ahead of construction of the Cecil County Correctional Facility. Field methods employed during the investigations included surface controlled collection of 176 surface units (each measuring 100 m²), the excavation of 63 shovel test pits and 13 test units, mechanical stripping of five2 meter wide trenches, and feature excavation. Five possible cultural features were identified as a result of the subsurface testing. There were 2 small soil stains, a pebble and cobble filled depression, a prehistoric pit (Feature 3) containing several ceramic sherds, lithic debris and fire-cracked rock, a bowl-shaped and charcoal filled pit, and a possible hearth. The archaeologists determined that the site represented a seasonal camp where subsistence–related activities were carried out. A total of 2,386 prehistoric artifacts were collected during the 1980 Phase II investigations.

Phase III data recovery was conducted in 1980 and 1981. Following the mechanical removal of topsoil, 147 possible features were mapped. Of these, 68 were archaeologically investigated. The features were placed into 1 of 4 general categories. Feature Type A consisted of 7 possible prehistoric postholes, a determination based on the recovery of prehistoric material from the fill, and 2 possible historic post holes and molds from which no historic artifacts were recovered. Feature Type B consisted of 13 small prehistoric pits. Six of the pits had fire-reddened soil and 1 was full of FCR. One pit (Feature 147) was filled with pottery, FCR and lithic debris.

Feature Type C consisted of 2 large prehistoric pits (Features 57 and 37), the fills of which contained flecks of charcoal and relatively large numbers of FCR, lithics, and pottery. Feature 37 was a burial pit of an adult female in a semi-flexed position that had been excavated into a tree fall. The burial pit was cut into by a hearth feature (Feature 155). Feature Type D consisted of 37 pits that were natural tree falls. The investigators hypothesized that these natural depressions were used as loci of activity, for example as trash pits, hence the presence of pottery and lithics within the falls. The prehistoric assemblage collected during the data recovery total 2,900 artifacts. In addition to the prehistoric materials, 235 historic artifacts were recovered. These artifacts were almost certainly associated with the 18th to 20th century Elk Landing Site (18CE60).

A 4.11 m (13.5’) core sample was collected from the floodplain-marsh located on the eastern side of the Hollingsworth Farm site. Results of the pollen analysis revealed that available foodstuffs in the area during the prehistoric period spanned a wide range of types, from nuts to herbs and roots. Preservation of pollen in the core was excellent. Wood and stem examples included within the sample were not analyzed but were preserved in glycerin. It was determined that the area would have been suitable for human habitation during the colder period of peat formation but that the variety of plant species would have been rather limited. Instead, ideal conditions developed during what the author referred to as Zone B when the presence of an abundance of oak, some hickory, walnut, and chestnut along with berry and herb-bearing plants would have helped to support a gathering economy. Presumably this occurred around the terminal Archaic/Early Woodland period (what the author refers to as the “Woodland Corner”).

Evidence for continued occupation into the Contact period consisted of a large basal fragment of a heavy green wine bottle that had one edge flaked into a scraper, and a heavily used jasper gunflint, the characteristics of which indicated aboriginal manufacture. The glass scraper and gunflint were recorded as uncommon objects in the table above.

Work at Historic Elk Landing was conducted in the early spring of 2002 and consisted of the excavation of 392 shovel test pits and 7 test units (1 m²) on the terrace above the floodplains of the Little Elk and Big Elk Creeks, including a 5 acre area of site 18CE29. A total of 174 prehistoric artifacts were recovered from within the boundaries of site 18CE29. As noted above, the historic component from the site likely relates to the 18th-20th century site 18CE60. In all, 354 historic artifacts were recorded.

The Hollingsworth Farm Site (18CE29) consists of Late Archaic to Late Woodland base camp occupations and a prehistoric burial. The most intensive period of occupation appears to have been between the Late Archaic and Early Woodland periods with a less significant presence by the Late Woodland/Contact period. The undisturbed portion of the site has been shown to contain evidence that would be pertinent to questions regarding prehistoric subsistence and settlement models.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)


  • Payne, Ted M.
  • 1980. The Hollingsworth Farm Archaeological Survey: Interim Report. MAAR Associates, Inc., Newark, Delaware.
  • Thomas, Ronald A., and Ted Payne
  • 1981. Archaeological Data Recovery at the Hollingsworth Farm Site (18CE29). MAAR Associates, Inc., Newark, Delaware.

About the MAC Lab

The MAC Lab
Visiting the MAC Lab

Contact Us