Warren Wilson College News

WWC professor, colleagues discover remains of earliest inland fort

Part of Fort San Juan revealed at the Berry archaeology site


After years of excavations, archaeologists at the Berry site near Morganton, N.C., are confident they have now made a definitive discovery removing any doubt that the site is the location of the earliest European settlement in the North American interior.

Warren Wilson College professor David Moore and a team of archaeologists are certain they have located the remains of Fort San Juan itself, not just the houses in which Spanish soldiers lived in 1567-1568. The fort was the first and largest of the garrisons that Spanish Captain Juan Pardo established as part of an ill-fated effort to colonize what is now the American South.

“Our work at the Berry site helps us to learn more about the early and critical period of interaction between the Native peoples and European colonizers,” says Moore, field school director at the site. “It’s a complex and compelling story that foretells the troubles and tragedies faced by Native Americans over the next several centuries. At the same time, it is a story of native resilience, a story that also reflects the position of native peoples today.”

Read more and watch videos on The New York Times website and in The Charlotte Observer about the discovery of the fort’s remains. Learn more here about the foundation that supports continuing exploration at the site.


Archaeologists (l-r) Robin Beck, David Moore, Christopher Rodning

[Exploring Joara Project photos]


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