After decades of waiting, York County history buffs will soon learn what lies beneath a portion of a site of a Revolutionary War-era prison-of-war camp.
The preservation group Friends of Camp Security recently received a grant of nearly $10,000 to conduct an archaeological dig at the Springettsbury Township site that once housed British soldiers.
Though the dig won't happen until September, group members will hold an informational meeting later this month to drum up support from would-be amateur archaeologists, said Carol Tanzola, president of the preservation group.
"It's not just something to go in and start digging," she said.
The meeting, to be headed by group members and archaeologist Steve Warfel, will be held at the Springettsbury Township building on Wednesday.
Bring your artifacts: Tanzola is also asking residents in the area of 162-acre Camp Security, along Locust Grove Road, to bring artifacts they may have found on their properties.
"Over the years, I've had people say off-handedly, 'I found something in my rose garden,'" she said.
The group doesn't want to take ownership of the 200-year-old-plus bounty, they just want to examine what people have found to help piece together what life at the camp was like, Tanzola said.
Little is known about the camp, the last of its kind not fully lost to modern development. It was used from 1781 to 1783 to house about 1,500 British prisoners of war and their families following the battles of Saratoga and Yorktown. American soldiers who guarded the British and their families also lived at the site.
No maps from those two years exist and diaries mainly tell of friendships formed at the camp, said Becky Roman, a founding member of the preservation group. Since its wartime use, houses were built on a portion of the site, but further development was halted when state and local government, the preservation group and private donors contributed money to purchase the final piece of land for preservation last year.
"I'm still so happy we were able to save it," Roman said. "I'm excited we can start to interrupt it better."
Where to search: The preservation group received a $9,565 grant from the National Trust of Historic Preservation for the upcoming dig. The group has to match some of that money.
This will mark the first substantial archaeological dig at the site in 35 years. The last major excavation in 1979 turned up tens of thousands of artifacts and a surface exploration in 2000 indicated there is likely much more under ground.
When volunteers descend on the site for the dig over of the course of four weeks in September, they will be doing so at the direction of a magnetometer that showed some promising spots on where to dig, Roman said.
A company worked pro-bono to detect the promising location.
"This is the one hot spot were no work was done," she said. "It's never been covered for archeological purposes."
— Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go:
The Friends of Camp Security will hold an informational meeting about the upcoming archaeological dig.
The meeting will be held at the Springettsbury Township building, 1501 Mount Zion Road, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
To contribute to continuing fundraising efforts, go to campsecurity.com.