Archaeology at Shuter's Hill Plantation

An ongoing excavation on Shuter's Hill near the Masonic Memorial is exploring the Mills/Lee/Dulaney plantation, built in 1782. The mansion house burned in 1842, and was replaced by a larger brick house that was used by Union troops during the Civil War.

Page updated on Mar 10, 2020 at 10:19 AM

Shuter’s Hill: A Wealth of History

Mills/Lee/Dulaney plantation, built in 1782

Alexandria Archaeology Institute image

Located on the grounds of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia, the Shuter's Hill site occupies a bluff overlooking Old Town, the city’s historic downtown on the Potomac River. The use of the name Shuter’s Hill for this prominent landmark dates back to the late eighteenth century, perhaps a reference to a “Shooter’s Hill” in London or to a local resident by the name of Shuter who lived in the area in the 1740s.

Registered as an archaeological site (44AX175) with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the property has been investigated by Alexandria Archaeology since 1995. Volunteers, field school students, and summer campers have worked with City archaeologists, slowly scraping away the more recent soil layers and peeling back the pages of history.

They found that this prominent landmark has been visited and inhabited by people for over 5,000 years. As the 20th-century deposits were scraped away, the archaeologists uncovered evidence of a mid-19th-century estate, artifacts associated with Civil War occupation, vestiges of a late 18th/early 19th-century plantation, and traces of Native American activities.

View a brochure to learn about some of the archaeological discoveries at this important site. 

  • Native American Occupation
  • The Mills/Lee/Dulany Plantation, 1780s-1840s
  • The Plantation Laundry
  • Profile of a Washerwoman: from Slavery to Freedom
  • The Final Dulany Years, 1850-1905
  • Civil War, 1861-1865
  • The Twentieth Century