Fairfield plantation is the ancestral home
of the Burwell family in America. Patented by Lewis Burwell I, the Gloucester County
plantation would be home to six generations of Burwells (1642-1787) and three generations
of the Thrustons (1787-1853), a prominent merchant-planter family from Gloucester Point
By the 1840s the property was home to a series of tenants, including African Americans,
who farmed the land until the house was destroyed by fire in 1897.
Today Fairfield is a significant
archaeological site, where research is focused on understanding the plantation landscape
and specifically the 1694 manor house and its immediate surroundings.
Excavations also are shedding light on the house's evolution, the lifestyles of its
occupants, and the layout and transformation of the surrounding landscape.
Archaeological evidence has revealed slave quarters, fence lines, and a large formal
Ongoing excavations will enable the
Fairfield Foundation to interpret the evolution of this
plantation and the lives of the many diverse people who lived and worked there.
The top map (detail), drafted by an anonymous cartographer,
is from 1783. (Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation).