Archaeologists uncover first Maryland colonial web site after decades-long search

After an exhaustive search, archaeologists at Maryland’s Historic St. Mary’s museum have situated St. Mary’s Fort, the state’s first European settlement and the USA’ fourth English colony.

In 1634, the primary wave of settlers who based the state constructed the Southern Maryland stronghold. 


Greater than 100 residents arrived aboard two ships, the Ark and the Dove, in late March 1634, in accordance with Historic St. Mary’s Metropolis.

Archaeologists had been in search of the fort because the Thirties, The Washington Publish reported on Monday. Very like the historic Jamestown Fort in Virginia, its precise place had been “misplaced.”

Conjectural drawing of St. Mary’s Fort based mostly on the geophysical survey (Drawing by Jeffrey R. Parno)

Like Jamestown, the St. Mary’s settlement was deserted and the state capital moved to Annapolis within the 1690s. The location — which is in regards to the dimension of a soccer area — was left alone and right now seems to be simply an empty meadow owned by the town.

Virtually 400 years later, Historic St. Mary’s Metropolis Director of Analysis and Archaeology Travis Parno, geophysical archaeologist Tim Horsley and their group have discovered the outlines of the fort’s buildings utilizing ground-penetrating radar, magnetic susceptibility and magnetometry.


After the search was paused for a number of years, Parno took up the mantle in 2017 and their 2018 discovery of an imprint of timbers was confirmed in 2019, in accordance with the Publish. 

The wooden used to construct its palisade had reportedly left telltale stains. 

Nevertheless, because the world got here to a screeching halt as a result of devastating influence of the coronavirus pandemic, so did their work. 

However, final summer time Parno returned to the location and uncovered the highest of what may very well be the cellar of a constructing contained in the fort. They’d additionally discovered a number of artifacts together with a 4,500-year-old quartzite arrowhead and the set off guard for a musket.

Parno advised Fox Information through e-mail on Tuesday that the group was thrilled to have the ability to share its discovery with the general public and that he believes it may be argued that this is without doubt one of the most vital discoveries in Maryland’s archaeological historical past.

“The location represents a interval of monumental change when European colonists inserted themselves into a various, politically and socially complicated world of Native peoples,” he stated. “The ramifications of the preliminary colonial settlement and interactions between the colonists and the Yaocomaco, Piscataway, and different Native teams would form the course of Maryland’s colonial historical past.”

Geophysicist Dr. Timothy J. Horsley conducting the ground-penetrating radar survey (Credit: Historic St. Mary’s City)

Geophysicist Dr. Timothy J. Horsley conducting the ground-penetrating radar survey (Credit score: Historic St. Mary’s Metropolis)

“Because of this we’ve labored arduous to have interaction members of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe, Piscataway Indians Nation, and different Native teams to create the Folks to Folks Mission, a collaborative initiative that can embody the archaeological examine and public interpretation of St. Mary’s Fort and close by Native websites courting to upwards of 5,000 years previous,” Parno added.

Subsequent, the excavation group will proceed exploring parts of St Mary’s Fort.


“We’re presently excavating an intriguing giant constructing with a cellar that is stuffed with colonial trash,” Parno acknowledged, who was fast to notice that archaeologists “love trash!”.

Ultimately when the stays of the constructing are uncovered Parno stated his group will “start excavating the cellar and hopefully be taught a bit about what the constructing was used for…and what it may possibly inform us about life in St. Mary’s Fort.”

Parno and Horsley will conduct one other ground-penetrating radar survey simply outdoors of the fort to have a look at a number of the Native websites to be included of their Folks to Folks Mission. 

Historic St. Mary’s City archaeologists Stephanie Stevens and August Rowell consult with Director of Research and Collections Dr. Travis Parno (center) at the St. Mary’s Fort dig site (Credit: Historic St. Mary’s City)

Historic St. Mary’s Metropolis archaeologists Stephanie Stevens and August Rowell seek the advice of with Director of Analysis and Collections Dr. Travis Parno (middle) on the St. Mary’s Fort dig web site (Credit score: Historic St. Mary’s Metropolis)

The pair credit score the Maryland Historic Belief and the Historic St Mary’s Metropolis Basis for serving to to jumpstart their analysis with grant cash.

“This discover is not going to solely converse to the early days of those that arrived in what was to be named Maryland however will give vital clues to the previous in regards to the indigenous peoples who lived within the space lengthy earlier than they arrived,” Historic St. Mary’s Metropolis stated in an announcement


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan agreed. 

“Discovering the placement of Maryland’s authentic settlement is really thrilling information for our state and can give us a possibility to reconnect with our pre-colonial and early colonial years,” he advised WTOP Information. “The state has been proud to help the examine of St. Mary’s Fort and appears ahead to additional excavation of the world as we strategy our state’s four-hundredth anniversary.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *