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Cobb ’ s Point-Culpeper Rebellion Archaeology Team. Member: Donquel Davis Member: Kevin Brodie II Mentor: Dr. Malcolm LeCompte. Members. Donquel Davis. Kevin Brodie II. Dr. Malcolm LeCompte. Abstract.

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Cobb s point culpeper rebellion archaeology team

Cobb’s Point-Culpeper RebellionArchaeology Team

Member: Donquel Davis

Member: Kevin Brodie II

Mentor: Dr. Malcolm LeCompte


Donquel Davis

Kevin Brodie II

Dr. Malcolm LeCompte


  • During the decade of 1670 to 1680, political maneuverings were initiated by prominent property owners north of Albemarle Sound with the ultimate intent of obtaining control of the lucrative tobacco trade developing between New England and the mother country. These activities, aggravated by severe weather and low crop yields, and a perception of excessive crown taxation erupted in a bloodless rebellion against the laws and governance of the crown. The rebellion was ultimately resolved peacefully and without significant bloodshed. The center of activities during these events was the courthouse and customs house reported to be located on the Pasquotank River at Cobb’s Point, South of the current center of Elizabeth City. Early maps show a building near the shore with another rumored to be nearby, not far from the foot of a dock at which shipments of tobacco were sent to customers. Anecdotal evidence and local tradition hold the two buildings to be located near or incorporated into structures located on the Winslow Farm which was developed into a subdivision around 1960. This land has recently become available and accessible for an exploratory survey to ascertain the location of any historically significant structures and to determine the extent of any remains that may yet exist.

Abstract continued
Abstract continued…

  • Aerial photos of the Elizabeth City area, made prior to and just after World War 2, were examined to determine the location of the original shoreline and any structures that may have contained elements of the original colonial era buildings. Modern Digital Orthographic Quarter Quad (DOQQ) aerial photographs were used to provide geo-referencing of the early aerial photographs. The geographic coordinates of structures formerly occupying the Cobb’s Point site defined an area that allowed a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey to be made. The purpose of the survey was to reveal whether any remains of earlier structures are present. The area was covered in transects enabling linear data to be collected. Transects were made at sufficiently small separation to allow computer processing aided re-construction of a three-dimensional visualization of what lies beneath the surface to a depth of about 3 meters. The features appear to be present within the soil depth probed by GPR, their nature and exact location may be determined by a trained archaeologist using a probing device to physically penetrate the soil at locations revealed by the GPR survey. Sufficiently interesting results prompted a request to the property owners to allow excavation of any structural remains that have been discovered.

Map of cobb s point 1775
Map of Cobb’s Point 1775

Courthouse was the center of the

Culpeper Rebellion


  • Use modern technology to discover remnants of the buildings/structures that were critical to these historic events.

Methodology to the historical site survey
Methodology to the Historical Site Survey

  • Old maps from 1775, 1850 (UNC Archive)

  • Aerial photos from 1938 (provided by R.B. Long) and 1993 DOQQ (USGS)

  • Anecdotal Stories confirm and connect the structures

  • 1938 photo and geo-rectified it to 1993 DOQQ

  • Relayed info back to lead Archaeologist Edward “Clay” Swindell

  • GPR survey on the site slightly adjacent to our original findings led by the lead Archaeologist

  • Processed data readings from GPR survey

  • Created a 3D image and analyzed data using RADAN 6.6 software

  • Reported results to Edward “Clay” Swindell for further GPR surveys of the surrounding areas and future excavation on the site

Map of cobb s point 1850
Map of Cobb’s Point 1850

Actual aerial images
Actual Aerial images


1993 DOQQ

Exelis envi 4 7
Exelis ENVI 4.7

  • The team then used Exelis ENVI software to find common geographic points so they would be co-registered and we could begin warping the photos.

  • ENVI is the premier commercial software solution for processing and analyzing geospatial imagery.

Geo referencing and warping
Geo-Referencing and Warping

  • With the aerial photos now warped and co-registered they share geographic coordinates.

  • The team then enhanced the images to increase the contrast & lighting.

Shore line and structure overlay
Shore line and Structure Overlay


1993 image with 1938 features

Field work
Field Work

After all our images were processed the team then visited the site to begin marking with flags where the two barns were using the geo-coordinates given by ENVI.

Change of plans
Change of Plans

  • The team then relayed this information to Edward “Clay” Swindell; the Archaeologist that directed our data collection.

  • Edward Swindell pointed out a change in surface appearance on land adjacent to the location our analysis had indicated for the barn-like structures.

  • The team followed the archaeologist’s lead and set up a 25x25 m grid. In this area the team commenced the GPR survey.

New area of interest
New Area of Interest

New area for GPR Survey




1 meter apart




Actual shot of the grid
Actual Shot of the Grid

Infamous bush that gave the team issues

Stopping line

Radan 6 6


Gpr readings
GPR Readings

16 meters between subsurface features

16 meters between subsurface features

Data readings and results
Data Readings and Results


Possible foundation for chimneys

(16 meters apart)

A typical early colonial home, roughly contemporary to the courthouse and customs building at Cobbs Point.

After maximizing the quality of the files, the team then created a 3D image.


.68 m depth

Shows the chimney foundation persisting almost 2 feet into the ground

1 m depth

1.34 m depth


  • All in all, the GPR survey gave the team promising results that there were subsurface features. It revealed the presence of a structure whose identity remains unknown until future work.

Future work
Future Work

  • Led by Edward “Clay” Swindell (Archaeologist) additional GPR surveys may be taken in areas surrounding the original GPR survey grid.

  • Also sonar may be done in the surrounding water areas to reveal relics of the dock. (e.g. dock pilings or piling holes)

  • Physical probing or excavation may be done of the subsurface features revealed by the team’s work.

Problems encountered
Problems Encountered

  • ENVI 4.7: angle of observation, sunlight, and shadows caused ground control points uncertainty

  • Field Work with GPR: inconsistent lengths of the transects, GPS coordinate uncertainty, battery failure and rebooting issues

  • RADAN 6.6: graphics card wouldn’t allow RADAN to be accessed on Mac, incorrect approaches to rendering a 3D Display