MHT File Photo
Church Road, , Ferry Farms, , Anne Arundel County
Fort Nonsense is a 19th century earthen fortification consisting of two arcs of embankments and ditches separated by a gorge or gate on the west side and by a berm on the east-southeast. It is 64.9m in circumference (measured on the crests of the embankments). The ends of the two embankments, on either side of the berm, are 12.2m apart. Immediately north of the southern arc is a circular borrow area, and along the northern wall there are three conspicuous depressions, possibly embrasures. The overall maximum dimensions of the fort are 34m north-south by 30m east-west. The flat interior measures 16 by 14m . The embankment was constructed by inverting the natural stratigraphy from the borrow pit and ditches. Thus, the yellow and pale brown sandy loams of the B horizon became mixed with the underlying clay in the embankment fill and were capped by the orange, gravelly, clayey subsoil. The fort was investigated by excavating portions of two perpendicular trenches, one meter wide, in the center of the interior through the interior, borrow pit, walls, and ditches. The number of artifacts recovered were few. Shovel tests extracted wire and nails of recent vintage. The trenches yielded a variety of items, including an 1824 Capped Bust type dime, a 1900 Colt .38 cartridge casing, nails, late-19th century bottle and window glass, and a 19th century pipe stem. Conclusions drawn from the excavation data suggest that the southern arc was constructed first, in the early 19th century. The northern arc may have been built at the same time, but was apparently reconstructed later in the century by moving the ditch farther out and heightening and steepening the wall. The fort is in excellent condition. Its location is a hilltop which has remained undisturbed by the surrounding Annapolis Naval Ship Research and Development Center.
The significance of Fort Nonsense lies in its possible relation to important events, i.e., the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War; in its distinctive characteristics because it is a roughly circular and entirely earthen redoubt; and in its potential for yielding information, since it is the last vestige of Annapolis Harbor fortifications.