Thursday, December 13, 2007

Archeology at Ninety Six: Williamson's Fort

Williamson's Fort of 1775 (38-GN-2)
The trenches exposed in this area were found to enclose an area 85 by 150 feet. These trenches were found to end at three places with each of these places containing "footing holes" (post holes) for three structures. The south structure had seven footing holes that formed a rectangle 15 by 30 feet, the west structure was represented by six footings forming a square 19 by 21 feet, and the north structure had four footing holes and measured 21 by 32 feet. When matched with a 1821 map that portrayed Williamson's Fort of 1775, these three structures matched those structures identified as John Savage's barns shown on the map. A fourth building was also shown on the map, but South didn't investigate this; he simply extrapolated its location. A bastion was found just west of the south barn location. Most of the fort had been intruded upon by Holmes Fort. Very little excavation was done in the ditches (which were found to be one foot wide and two feet deep). Near the center of the area of Williamson's Fort, a rectangular pit was found measuring 3.8 by 8 feet, and 2 feet deep; thought to be a possible burial, there was no evidence of a body. A few feet to the north of the south barn, a larger shallow feature containing a two by six feet burial pit was found [pictured]. This pit contained human remains, a large pocket knife (at the hip), large brass coat buttons (near the center of the body), pewter buttons (near the rib cage), and brass wire eyes (near the ankles) (South 1972:30). It is possible that these are the remains of James Birmingham of the Long Cane Militia, who was the sole fatality in the brief conflict at the fort between Loyalists and Patriots in 1775.

(info: "A Research Design for Archeological Investigations at Ninety Six National Historic Site," SEAC 1996, by Guy Prentice)