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Montpelier crystal from slave dwelling excavation

On Wednesday Sept 9 we will be placing a quartz crystal in the foundation of one of the slave quarter duplexes that we are reconstructing as part of the South Yard project here at Montpelier. During archaeological excavations in 2011, we located a large quartz crystal during excavations amongst the destruction rubble from this building that we are currently rebuilding. The position of the quartz crystal (of which archaeologists have found no other examples in the 26 years of excavations carried out at Montpelier) suggested it originally had been placed in the pier for this structure. When the building was taken down in the 1840s, the crystal went unnoticed in the field of rubble generated during the destruction and remained for us to discover some 170 years later.

Quartz crystals have been found at other African American sites in hearths, piers and other portions of the buildings. Much like what we found at the duplex, similar objects have been placed in the northern corner of rooms or building foundations. It is believed that such objects were seen as protection against bad omens, sickness, and malevolent spirits. In talking with descendants of the Montpelier enslaved community, many individuals have noted similar traditions continue to this day such as the throwing of salt in the corner of a room.

With the reconstruction of the duplex, we will place a crystal in the northern pier of the structure. Next week, the masons will be completing the brick piers for the home and on Wednesday Sept 9th at 2:00 pm EST we will have several of the descendants out for the placement. We will be conducting a live video stream of the event. More info on viewing this event online will be available on this website. If you happen to be in the area and would like to come out for the event, please drop me an e-mail, otherwise tune in to the live broadcast. We will also be taping the event and will make that available through our website.