Introduction

Project signage and flag, Patterson Park

We Dig Hampstead Hill sign in Patterson Park, 2014.

In 2014, Baltimore Heritage and our partners organized "We Dig Hampstead Hill" – an archaeological investigation searching for the 1814 fortifications in Patterson Park. In the weeks after the burning of Washington on August 24, 1814, thousands of Baltimoreans came together to build a line of earthworks protecting the city against the British invasion during the War of 1812. Hampstead Hill (today known as Pagoda Hill) stood at the center of this defensive line and served as the field headquarters for General Samuel Smith, commander of Baltimore's defense. This exhibit explores the story of Hampstead Hill and how the archaeological research expands our understanding of this site.

Greg Katz taking levels, Patterson Park

Archaeologist Greg Katz, 2014.

What is archaeology?

Archaeology is the study of the ancient and recent human past through material remains. It is a subfield of anthropology, the study of all human culture. An archaeological site is any place where physical remains of past human activities exist. There are many, many types of archaeological sites. A site can be as small as a pile of chipped stone tools left by a prehistoric hunter or as big as a place like Fort McHenry.

Battlefields and sites associated with wars on American soil, like Patterson Park, provide a way for us to understand and interpret various periods in our country’s history. Battlefield archaeology is a subspecialty of archaeology that can help us understand the history of the battle and help us preserve the site for future generations.