Archaeology assistant Amanda Snyder takes a close look at a rock Monday at the site of a Revolutionary War-era prisoner camp in Springettsbury Township.
Archaeology assistant Amanda Snyder takes a close look at a rock Monday at the site of a Revolutionary War-era prisoner camp in Springettsbury Township. (John A. Pavoncello — jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com)

Amanda Snyder paused by an orange marker flag to pick up a small, mostly dirt-covered rock lying in a Springettsbury Township field on Monday.

The rock is actually a small piece of brick — but with no buildings nearby, how it ended up in the field is a mystery.

"No idea where it came from or how it got here," the archaeology assistant said, placing the bit of brick back on the ground.

The brick was one of many artifacts a group of volunteers found on the first day of an archaeological dig at the site of the Revolutionary War-era Camp Security.

The group, headed by former state archaeologist Steve Warfel, hopes to find other artifacts that could provide clues about the camp.

Volunteers walk a plowed field at the site of a Revolutionary War prisoner camp in Springettsbury Township looking for possible artifacts as the
Volunteers walk a plowed field at the site of a Revolutionary War prisoner camp in Springettsbury Township looking for possible artifacts as the archeological survey of Camp Security begins, Monday August 25, 2014. John A. Pavoncello - jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com

Day one: During the first day of the five-week dig, volunteers walked a 4-acre area, scanning the ground for artifacts.

Nancy Godfrey of Dallastown spotted a screwdriver with a plastic handle.

It wasn't the relic from the 1770s she was hoping to find.

"I don't think we've missed the 18th-century stuff. I just think it's below the surface," Warfel told the group of eight volunteers.

By the end of the search, orange flags — one for each found object — dotted the cleared ground in the massive field along Locust Grove Road.

The preliminary search was just the first step in a series of searches slated to take place in the coming month.


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Additional volunteers with metal detectors will scan the ground Tuesday and Wednesday before digging starts Thursday, Warfel said.

In October, volunteers will clean and catalog any artifacts that are found.

The camp: Though he grew up in Springettsbury Township, Warfel said he didn't learn about the camp, or York County history for that matter, in school.

He's hoping the dig will "bring a little awareness of local history."

What is known is that the camp was used from 1781 to 1783 to house about 1,500 British prisoners of war and their families.

Snyder and Warfel said the dig could help provide a layout of the camp, such as where walls and structures were located. It could also help show what life at the camp was like.

"It's the closest thing to time travel as you can get," Snyder said of archaeology.

Despite the field being plowed for decades, Warfel said, any artifacts lying below the surface should be near where they were dropped more than 230 years ago.

Studies have shown that artifacts shift only a few feet during plowing, he said.

"That's how we know (an artifact won't be) moved more than five feet from where it was dropped," Warfel said.

Volunteer effort: Apart from Warfel and Snyder, everyone taking part in the dig is a volunteer.

Godfrey said she joined the effort because it's something she always found interesting and always wanted to do.

Tim Moyer of York Township was between jobs as a field tech — someone who searches for artifacts before construction projects, such as the building of a new road — and opted to volunteer for the dig.

"I'm hoping I can get back (here for) a few days when they start digging," he said.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.