Archaeologists surveying land near Scott's Plantation in Anne Arundel County have discovered the site of decades-old slave barracks.
Maryland State Highway Administration (MDSHA) and Anne Arundel County archaeologists have been surveying the area since last spring for a federally funded transportation project in Crownsville, Maryland. The land they're focused on is part of Scott's Plantation, which had belonged to Francis Scott Key's grandmother.
Key wrote the lyrics to what would become "The Star -Spangled Banner" during the War of 1812. The poem was later set to music and renamed, and became the country's national anthem in 1931.
Archaeologists unearthed the stone foundations of an 18th-century building where they say as many as 35 enslaved black Americans lived.
"On the surface here, [it's] 20th century, but the very bottom, we're looking at [materials] over 200 years old," said MDSHA Chief Archaeologist Dr. Julie Schabiltsky.
Archaeologists also found dish fragments and beads believed to have been used in the 18th century. They say the discovery of the barracks could rewrite the narrative about this era in Maryland.
"We believe that the structure went up at least two stories," Schabiltsky said, pointing out a structure of that size is not typical of unearthed plantation life.
The land now belongs to Rockbridge Academy, a K-12 Christian school.
Nancy Matthews Daniels is closely following the excavation -- she said the slave barracks were the site of family stories passed down through generations.
"Now I thank God I know where it is," Daniels said. "I thank God for [the archaeologists]. They're doing a wonderful job."