Return to Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

First Colony Foundation staff deployed at Fort Raleigh for six days in May 2017 to re-examine features originally identified by Jean C. Harrington in the mid-Twentieth Century and studied further by Ivor Noel Hume in 1991-92. Interpretation of this small area is believed to be a key to understanding the structure labeled the Science Center. An adjacent unit will be opened in October 2017, concurrent with the Historical Symposium that will take place in Manteo. Project Director Eric Deetz supervised and participated in the excavation while FCF board member Alastair Macdonald and two students from UNC Chapel Hill were the primary diggers and screeners. Assistance was provided by FCF friend Rob Bolling and FCF archaeologist Clay Swindell. Research leaders Nick Luccketti and Eric Klingelhofer were frequently available at the site for consultations.

  • Finding the Grid

    Tony Smith and Eric Deetz determine the precise location of the units excavated 25 years earlier.

    Finding the Grid
  • Excavation Begins

    UNC students Hannah Holtzman and Chris LaMack and retired NPS ranger Rob Bolling begin the slow descent to expose the undisturbed Sixteenth Century soil.

    Excavation Begins
  • Protective Mat

    After 3 days the team has reached the plastic mat laid down in 1992 to protect the area excavated at that time. The careful screening trapped small sherds of Elizabethan pottery that had been missed in both prior excavations.

    FCF-roanoke-island-dig
  • Detailed Cleanup

    The team lightly cleans the targeted layer, focusing on the features that cut into it.

    FCF-fort-raleigh-dig-roanoke-island
  • Visit from the Superintendent

    Eric Klingelhofer interprets the site for David Hallac, National Park Service Superintendent of the Outer Banks region

    National Park Service Superintendent
  • Meanwhile, in Hariot Woods

    Clay Swindell exposes naturally stratified soil to remove samples in and around a slot trench that was first identified in 2009. An “OSL” (optically stimulated luminescence) test will determine a date range for each layer’s last exposure to sunlight. The results of this test will be useful for determining priorities for future research

    first-colony-foundation-hariot-woods-dig
  • Final Day

    Eric Deetz and Clay Swindell examine and record features at the Science Center site. When the adjacent unit is excavated the researchers will have a more detailed view for further interpretation of this critical area

    first-colony-foundation
  • Finding the Grid

    Finding the Grid

    Tony Smith and Eric Deetz determine the precise location of the units excavated 25 years earlier.

  • Excavation Begins

    Excavation Begins

    UNC students Hannah Holtzman and Chris LaMack and retired NPS ranger Rob Bolling begin the slow descent to expose the undisturbed Sixteenth Century soil.

  • Protective Mat

    FCF-roanoke-island-dig

    After 3 days the team has reached the plastic mat laid down in 1992 to protect the area excavated at that time. The careful screening trapped small sherds of Elizabethan pottery that had been missed in both prior excavations.

  • Detailed Cleanup

    FCF-fort-raleigh-dig-roanoke-island

    The team lightly cleans the targeted layer, focusing on the features that cut into it.

  • Visit from the Superintendent

    National Park Service Superintendent

    Eric Klingelhofer interprets the site for David Hallac, National Park Service Superintendent of the Outer Banks region

  • Meanwhile, in Hariot Woods

    first-colony-foundation-hariot-woods-dig

    Clay Swindell exposes naturally stratified soil to remove samples in and around a slot trench that was first identified in 2009. An “OSL” (optically stimulated luminescence) test will determine a date range for each layer’s last exposure to sunlight. The results of this test will be useful for determining priorities for future research

  • Final Day

    first-colony-foundation

    Eric Deetz and Clay Swindell examine and record features at the Science Center site. When the adjacent unit is excavated the researchers will have a more detailed view for further interpretation of this critical area