Archaeology Magazine

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Team Finds 1662 St. Francis Xavier Chapel in Maryland

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

COMPTON, MARYLAND—Archaeologists Scott Lawrence and James Gibb, with the support of the Archaeological Society of Maryland and the modern St. Francis Xavier parish, have unearthed five post holes thought to represent the original St. Francis Xavier chapel, built in 1662 by Jesuit missionaries. “This is what we’ve been looking for two years,” Gibb said. The chapel measured 20 feet by 40 feet in size. The excavators have also found evidence of a domestic site next to the chapel, including pottery, a bed-curtain ring, a fireplace, a knife blade, and animal bones in the residential area. A courtyard paved with stones and oyster shells was probably used to keep mud from creeping into the buildings. The chapel was destroyed by 1719, but the land had never been farmed or otherwise disturbed.