Park Authority

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

703-324-8700
TTY 711

12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia 22035

Kirk Kincannon,
Executive Director

artiFACTS

The Fairfax County Park Authority’s Museum Collections are home to more than 5,000 museum objects (chairs, quilts, baskets, machines, clothing) ,
thousands of archival items (photographs, maps, letters and other documents), upwards of three million artifacts (archaeological discoveries such as spear points, pottery) . They are the stories of Fairfax County.

Someone Lost Their Marbles, Literally!

Someone Lost Their Marbles, Literally!?

In 2014, archaeologists from the Fairfax County Park Authority’s (FCPA) Archaeology and Collections Branch conducted excavations in and around the Ash Grove meat house and made an unexpected discovery – marbles.

Ash Grove is an important link in the history of Fairfax County. Bryan Fairfax, a member of the family for whom the county was named, built the manor at Ash Grove around 1790. Unfortunately, some of the hand-hewn wooden framework at the meat house had rotted, potentially endangering the structure. FCPA carpenters, working under the direction of an FCPA architectural historian, devised historically accurate ways to save and preserve this significant aspect of the historic Ash Grove landscape.

Since the needed repairs had the potential to disturb intact archaeological deposits, FCPA archaeologists conducted excavations in advance of the preservation project. Exterior excavations provided information on when the meat house was first constructed and how. Inside the meat house, archaeologists had to document and remove the brick floor. Though attractive, the floor was not original and had been installed in the early- or mid-twentieth century. It was likely added for aesthetic purposes and to give a more “historic” look, but the porous brick retained moisture that helped to rot the framing, endangering the building.

Immediately below the brick, archaeologists found a thick layer of sand that was used to raise the historic floor to grade and to level the overlying brick. Within this layer, archaeologists discovered the cache of glass marbles.

Glass marbles date back to the 1800s. By the early twentieth century, American factories devised ways to mechanically create marbles that might include colorful patters and swirls. Though an ancient game, the period between the 1920s and 1930s is considered by enthusiasts to be the heyday of marble production and play.

We cannot say whether the marbles at Ash Grove had simply been discarded or if they had been intentionally stashed below the brick as a sort of hiding spot, abandoned and forgotten until their discovery nearly 100 years later. Regardless, the find provides some insight into the world of a population frequently overlooked in history and difficult to identify within the archaeological record -- children. Children leave little in the written record about themselves, and their activities are often seen as historically unimportant. This recovery allows parts of the mosaic that is the history of Ash Grove to be filled.

Other artiFacts

Photo or Drawing
Is It a Photo or Drawing?
We Found It! We Found…Clorox!
We Found It! We Found…Clorox!
Tracing the Origins of Silhouettes
Tracing the Origins of Silhouettes
Projectile Point Points to Ancient History of Mount Air
Projectile Point Points to Ancient History of Mount Air
Entertaining with Japanese Imari Ware
Entertaining with Japanese Imari Ware
Putting the Pieces Back Together
Putting the Pieces Back Together
The Curious Tales of a Jacket with No Tail
The Curious Tales of a Jacket with No Tail
Orange and Alexandria Railroad
Orange and Alexandria Railroad
Decoration or Symbol of Resistance?
Cookie Cutters Offer a Taste of History
Decoration or Symbol of Resistance?
Raise a Glass to “Air-Twist” Glass Stems
Decoration or Symbol of Resistance?
History Served Up at Great Falls Grange
Decoration or Symbol of Resistance?
Decoration or Symbol of Resistance?
Fans Serve Double Duty for Cooling and Advertising
Fans Serve Double Duty for Cooling and Advertising
More Than Meets the Eye: The Rigg-Buckley House
More Than Meets the Eye: The Rigg-Buckley House
A 3D Experience from the Past
A 3D Experience from the Past
Turning the Dirt
Turning the Dirt
Before the Era of Prom-posals, there were Dance Cards
Before the Era of Prom-posals, there were Dance Cards
More Than Just a Pretty Face
More Than Just a Pretty Face
A Wintery Look at Historic Green Spring
A Wintery Look at Historic Green Spring
Mystery Metal Pieces Keep Archaeologists Guessing
Mystery Metal Pieces Keep Archaeologists Guessing
A Christmas Day Wedding Gift that Gives a History Lesson
A Christmas Day Wedding Gift that Gives a History Lesson
Poking into History with Straight Pins
Poking into History with Straight Pins
A Summer Wedding for Clark House's First Residents
A Summer Wedding for Clark House's First Residents
Innovative American Art Form Made Art more Affordable
A Thimble Sheds Light on the Lives of Women in History
Innovative American Art Form Made Art more Affordable
Innovative American Art Form Made Art more Affordable
Newspaper Discovery Shines Light on Suffragette Movement
Newspaper Discovery Shines Light on Suffragette Movement
Ellanor C. Lawrence Time Capsule
The Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Time Capsule
Dried Sediment Ready to be Examined
Glass Beads Provide Connection to Our Past
Frying Pan Meeting House Bible
Meeting House Bible
Tin Glaze Ceramics
Tin Glaze Ceramics
Lincoln Portrait
Lincoln Portraits Enjoyed Popularity in America’s Past
Staffordshire Slipware
The Origin of Staffordshire Slipware
Christmas Quilt
Christmas Quilt has Ties to Dranesville Tavern
Violin
Milling and Music in Fairfax County History
Hand-Wrought Nails
Hand-Wrought Nails in Early America
Family Gazette
Newspaper Provides Insight into Past Residents of Green Spring
Stoneware
Stoneware Offers Insights to Time Periods and Activities
Sully Car
Photo Prompts Cruise Down Memory Lane
Gun Flint
Gun Flint
Buttons
Buttons Attach us to History
Church Pew
Church Pew Offers Lesson on County’s Cultural and Racial History
Tobacco Pipe
White Clay Tobacco Pipe
Agate
An Agate & The Grange
Glass Fragments
Glass Fragments Provide a Window into the Past
Child’s Tea Set
A Child’s Tea Set
Colonial Hinge
Hand-wrought Colonial Hinge
Commencement Invitation
Floris Vocational High School Commencement Invitation
Colonial Padlock
Colonial Padlock
Silk Top Hat
Silk Top Hat
Tobacco Promotional Pipe
Lorillard’s Tobacco Promotional Pipe
Long-distance Education before the Internet
Long-distance Education before the Internet
Fire Screens
The Purpose of Fire Screens
Broken Glass
More Than Broken Glass
Sully Mirror
Reflections of History
Cryptic Note
Mysterious Object, Cryptic Note
Tobacco Pipe
Sully Tall Clock

 

Fairfax Virtual Assistant