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Posted on: July 21, 2022

The Search for Stuarts Town dig gets underway in August

Hannah Hoover digs at Morrall ParkBEAUFORT, S.C. (July 21, 2022)  – Plans for The Search For Stuarts Town in The Point neighborhood of Beaufort are well underway. Dr. Chester DePratter, of University of South Carolina (Columbia), and Dr. Charles Cobb, of the Florida Museum of Natural History, will bring their crew of nine archaeological excavators to dig approximately 250 small shovel test holes in their search for the lost Scottish colony. This work will take place Aug. 8-12. 

Stuarts Town – whose exact location is not known but is in this area -- was settled by a colony of Scots in 1684. A town plan containing 220 lots was laid out, but it is likely that no more than 50 or 60 of those lots were taken up by settlers. The town contained a church, a fort, and an unknown number of houses by the summer of 1686.

In August 1686, Stuarts Town was attacked and burned by Spanish soldiers and their Indian allies, who sailed up from St. Augustine, FL. The archaeology team will be looking for evidence of the buildings and fort that were all burned during that attack.

Shovel tests will take place on approximately 30 house lots, four city parks, and The Green, courtesy of The Open Land Trust, all within The Point. 

Visitors can observe shovel tests, and obtain more information about the project, in two public spots:

  • The Green, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 8-9
  • Morrall Park on Craven Street, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 10 -11, and 9 a.m. to noon on Aug. 12.

Other events include:

  • Lunch and Learn: The Cultural District Arts Board is sponsoring a Lunch-and-Learn at the Beaufort History Museum from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 8. Dr. Larry Rowland of USCB and City Councilman Phil Cromer will discuss the project and take questions. 
  • Identifying artifacts: On Aug. 10, an archeologist will be available to identify artifacts that Point homeowners have found in their yards. The event, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Morrall Park, is free.

The archaeology crew will stay at City Loft, on the edge of the search area, which includes properties east of Carteret Street, and south of Prince and Laurens Streets. 

Dr. DePratter has hired a videographer to record all aspects of the search including the excavations, interviews with property owners, field crew members, and visitors. This footage will be turned into a number of products that will inform the public about this project. 

An exhibit of recovered artifacts and their stories is being planned by the Beaufort History Museum in the coming months. Also, DePratter and Cobb will produce a report on the search within a year of completion of the excavations. 

Finally, a free public symposium will be held on Feb. 4, 2023, at the USCB Center for the Arts. It will include papers on the history of Stuarts Town and the archaeological search for its remains, as well as a paper on the history of the Yamasee Indians who were allies of the Stuarts Town colonists, and another on archaeology of the Yamasee town of Pocotaligo, the nearby place where the Yamasee War began in 1715.

This project is publicly funded by donations provided by interested persons and groups, in Beaufort and beyond. You can help, by making a credit card or check donation to this project, through City of Beaufort website Pride of Place page. For more information on The Search for Stuarts Town, please visit www.stuartstown.com

(Photo: Archaeologist Hannah Hoover demonstrates the size of the holes that will be dug in various Point spots at an event to launch the Search for Stuarts Town in June.)

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