50th Blog!

This month celebrates our 50th blog post and in honor of this anniversary we will be revisiting our top three most-popular blogs. To see which blogs made the cut, please follow the links below.

To date, our most popular blog, reaching almost 7,000 people on Facebook with over 30 post shares, was our March 2019 post: Music to Our Ears Mouths: A Jaw Harp Found in Fredericksburg. This blog focused on an artifact that was recovered from the Riverfront Park project focusing on the utility of x-radiography as a tool for identifying highly corroded artifacts. The jaw harp was found within the interior of the brick duplex once located at the corner of Hanover and Sophia streets.

Coming in second was our January 2019 post: Coming Unglued: The Importance of Reversibility in Artifact Conservation. This blog highlighted a poorly mended, mid-nineteenth century whiteware basin with a flow blue Scinde pattern. The object was brought to the Dovetail lab by a Stafford County resident. The vessel was repaired by a family member using an unknown adhesive which was then painted black. At the request of the owner, the archaeology lab at Dovetail not only removed the non-archival adhesive used to mend the basin but also repaired the object using archivally-stable materials.

Lastly, our third most popular entry was our February 2019 blog: When Building Fragments Come Together: Foundations at the Fredericksburg Riverfront Park. This blog was the first of several that focused on the results of our January/February 2019 data recovery at the Riverfront Park. We thought we would set the scene for upcoming installments by discussing the buildings that once dotted the landscape and noting the importance of architectural studies on historic sites.

It’s easy to see that local history wins when it comes to popularity as top three blogs are quite similar! If you have a favorite blog that did not make the top three, send us your feedback!


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A “Classical” Case—Creamware at the Fredericksburg Riverfront

By Kerry S. González

For our devoted followers, you may remember seeing a blog post back in 2015 on the creamware fragment below, found in 2013 during our Phase I survey of the Riverfront Park in Fredericksburg, Virginia (Photo 1). We are revisiting this piece because a match to the vessel was found during our 2019 Riverfront Park data recovery and an opportunity to showcase this rare circumstance was too good to pass up (Photo 2).

Photo 1: Creamware Fragment with Corinthian Column Capital and Shaft Recovered in 2013.

Photo 2: Creamware Fragment with Corinthian Column Shaft and Base (on right) Recovered in 2019.

These small fragments are a variety of ceramic called overglazed, printed creamware.  Vessels of this type were popular beginning in the 1760s. The use of the decorative Corinthian column indicates it is a ‘classical ruins’ motif typical on bowls as well as trenchers/plates and was a direct reflection of the wholesale American adoption of the Classical Revival style beginning in the mid-eighteenth century (Kaktins 2015). According to the San Francisco Ceramics Circle Newsletter (2014), Italian painters were fond of incorporating ruins into scenes with then-contemporary architecture, a style known as “capricciohas” (San Francisco Ceramics Circle 2014). While the fragments recovered from Dovetail’s 2013 and 2019 excavations do not appear to incorporate contemporaneous architecture they nonetheless highlight the popularity of including ruins in decorative motifs.

The complete plate below illustrates the ‘classical ruins’ pattern and shows the Corinthian columns observed on the sherds recovered by Dovetail. While both of these fragments were recovered from within the interior of the identified 1780 brick duplex at 717–719 Sophia Street, they were recovered roughly 10 feet apart. This distribution highlights how artifacts move around after they are thrown away, particularly on urban sites where filling and earthmoving are fairly common.

Photo 3: Example of Full Vessel with ‘Corinthian Ruins’ Motif (The Fitzwilliam Museum 2019).



The Fitzwilliam Museum

2019    Collection Explorer-Corinthian Ruins. Electronic document, https://webapps.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/explorer/index.php?qu=tin%20glazed&oid=11867, accesed July 2019.

San Francisco Ceramics Circle

2014    San Francisco Ceramic Circle: An Affiliate of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. Electronic document, http://sfceramic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/2014.3-newsletter-March-2014.pdf,k accessed July 2019.


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Setting the Royal Table

Featured Fragment – Queen’s Ware

By Kerry S. González

The image to the below is a creamware plate with a rim pattern known as “Royal Shape.”  Creamware was also commonly referred to as “Queen’s Ware” after its creator, Josiah Wedgwood, successfully completed a commission for this same ceramic type for Queen Charlotte in 1765 (Wedgwoodmuseum.org 2016). Upon the completion of her order, the Queen allowed Wedgwood to name his earthenware after her. Her Majesty’s order included “a complete set of tea things,” which also comprised “a dozen cups for coffee, six fruit baskets and stands, six melon preserve pots and six hand candlesticks” (Wedgwoodmuseum.org 2016). This successful delivery resulted in Wedgwood being named the official potter of the queen.


Recovered Creamware Plate

With a name like “Queen’s Ware” and its obvious ties to royalty, Wedgwood’s refined cream-colored earthenware was in great demand even among nobility. According to the Wedgwood Museum, “cream coloured earthenware was so widely used for dining that people no longer referred to ‘Common pewter’ [common pewter referring to the popular pewter dinnerwares] but to ‘Common Wedgwood’ instead” (Wedgwoodmuseum.org 2016). It was a versatile ceramic, and people enjoyed all types of foods off of their new or second-hand Queen’s Ware dishes from the late-eighteenth through early-nineteenth century (see advertisement).

The plate below was found during excavations by Dovetail, conducted on behalf of Stafford County. It was located within an eighteenth-century midden in the town of Falmouth. The area is now part of John Lee Pratt Park. With its basin-like form, this plate could have been used to serve a thick soup or chicken pudding (recipe below from Randolph 1827).

 Beat ten eggs very light, add to them a quart of rich milk, with a quarter of a pound of butter melted, and some pepper and salt; stir in as much flour as will make a thin good batter; take four young chickens, and after cleaning them nicely, cut off the legs wings &c. put them all in a sauce pan, with some salt and water, and a bundle of thyme and parsley, boil them till nearly done, then take the chicken from the water and put it in the batter pour it in a dish, and bake it; send nice white gravy in a boat.

Typically, on vessels such as these, striations (deep lines cutting through the lead glaze on the surface) are visible with the naked eye. These marks are the result of repeated cutting of food and scraping in the dish; however, the plate below has almost no apparent use-wear pattern. This could suggest infrequent use or a short life span.


1770 Advertisement Discussion Queen’s Ware (The Public Advertiser 1770).



Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.


Public Advertiser
1770 Queen’s Ware and Glasses, &c. The Public Advertiser, London, England, April 10, 1770.
https://www.newspapers.com/image/34410950/#, accessed November 2016.

Randolph, Mary
1827  The Virginia Housewife. Plaskitt, & Cugle, Baltimore, Maryland.

2016  The Wedgwood Museum. http://www.wedgwoodmuseum.org.uk/
learning/discovery_packs/pack/classical/chapter/queens-ware, accessed November 2016.

Digging by the River

Featured Fragment—Riverfront Park

During the summer of 2013 Dovetail conducted excavations at the Riverfront Park in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Many cultural features were identified, including a large icehouse which served the residents of Fredericksburg. While excavation of this feature produced a plethora of artifacts, one particular piece of ceramic is highlighted in this blog to showcase how archaeologists use tiny fragments to look at the bigger picture and determine, in many cases, the type of vessel the piece originated from. Below is a small fragment of an overglazed printed creamware which was popular beginning in the 1760s. This particular piece is printed with a Corinthian column and even though only a small portion of the column is visible, archaeolgoists were able to identify the motif once depicted on the vessel. The ‘classical ruins’ motif was found on bowls as well as trenchers and was a direct reflection of the neoclassical revival being embraced by everyone beginning in the mid-eighteenth century (Kaktins 2015). Surviving pieces can still be found today on auction websites.

This type of research and analysis is a common component of archaeological work. Knowing how artifacts relate to a site and its occupants, is key to understanding site history as well as overarching historic patterns.

full platter Creamware copy









Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.