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Public Archaeology Field Day at the Berry Site

A Sixteenth-Century Native Town and Spanish Settlement in the
Upper Catawba Valley
Western North Carolina

Near Morganton and Worry Crossroads in Burke County
Saturday, July 13, 2002
9:00AM until 1:00PM

open to the public
no admission fee

Come join us at the Berry site on Saturday, July 13, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm to see the results of the 2002 Warren Wilson College and Western Piedmont Community College Archaeology Field School.

Archaeologists David Moore, Chris Rodning, and Rob Beck will be on hand to talk about the Berry site. Visitors will be able to view the evidence for one of the burned houses believed to be associated with Fort San Juan, built under the direction of the Spanish in 1567 (20 years before the first English settlement at Roanoke Island).

See artifacts and exhibits and meet participants of the 2002 Archaeology Field School. Hear about our plans for the field school in 2003 and beyond as a part of the Upper Catawba Archaeology Project.

Hope to see you there!

For more information about the 2002 Archaeology Field School, please visit the Warren Wilson College archaeology web site. Also see below for directions to the site.


DIRECTIONS TO THE FIELD DAY AT THE BERRY SITE

From west of Morganton.

  • On I-40, take the Jamestown Road Exit (Exit 100). Turn left and follow Jamestown Road to US 70. Continue straight (road changes to Freedom Dr.). Turn left at the Hardees onto NC 181. Go about 0.1 mile and turn right at the traffic light at Bost Rd (one map says this is Spainhour Road but it is really Bost Road. The K-Mart Plaza will be on your right). Follow Bost Rd. to its end at Piedmont Rd. Turn left on Piedmont and go about 1.8 miles. You will pass Arney's Chapel Methodist Church on the right and turn left at the next road - Henderson Mill Rd (Worry Crossroads). Go about 0.7 miles; you will pass Cherry Fields Nursery on the left and then a small bridge over Upper Creek. The road will curve to the left and then sharply to the right. Drive slowly and be careful of traffic in this curve since you will turn left into the farm road just as the curve straightens out. Follow the dirt road about 200 feet and there we are. Welcome!
  • From east of Morganton.

  • On I-40, take Exit 105, turn right and follow NC 18 into City of Morganton. In town, NC 18 will become S. Green St. (one-way). Follow NC 18 when it turns to the right; you will follow NC 18 outside of Morganton to Piedmont Road (about 2.9 miles from the right turn) where you will turn left. Follow Piedmont Road about 4 miles. You will pass Arney's Chapel Methodist Church on the right and turn left at the next road - Henderson Mill Rd (Worry Crossroads). Go about 0.7 miles; you will pass Cherry Fields Nursery on the left and then a small bridge over Upper Creek. The road will curve to the left and then sharply to the right. Drive slowly and be careful of traffic in this curve since you will turn left into the farm road just as the curve straightens out. Follow the dirt road about 200 feet and there we are. Welcome!
  • From Lenoir.

  • Follow NC 18 south from Lenoir and turn right on Piedmont Road. Follow Piedmont Road about 4 miles. You will pass Arney's Chapel Methodist Church on the right and turn left at the next road - Henderson Mill Rd (Worry Crossroads). Go about 0.7 miles; you will pass Cherry Fields Nursery on the left and then a small bridge over Upper Creek. The road will curve to the left and then sharply to the right. Drive slowly and be careful of traffic in this curve since you will turn left into the farm road just as the curve straightens out. Follow the dirt road about 200 feet and there we are. Welcome!
  • Any questions?

  • Please contact David Moore at (828) 771-2013; email: dmoore@warren-wilson.edu. You may also wish to visit our web site, where you may read about the Berry site and view images from last year's field school.

  • WHY IS THE BERRY SITE IMPORTANT?

    Following the conquest of the Aztecs in Mexico and the Inka in South America, Spain looked to 'La Florida' for more land and riches. Hernando de Soto and his army traveled from Florida through North Carolina in 1540 on their way to the Mississippi River. In 1566, Juan Pardo left the Spanish town of St. Elena on the South Carolina coast and traveled into North Carolina in search of an overland route to Mexico. Scholars have debated the routes of Soto and Pardo for years but archaeological investigations at the Berry site (31BK22), north of Morganton in Burke County, provide evidence that both of these Spanish expeditions passed through the upper Catawba River valley. We believe that both de Soto and Pardo visited the Berry site; De Soto referred to it as the Indian town of Xualla, while Pardo referred to it as Joara.

    The Berry site is a large (nearly 12 acres) Mississippian site that dates to the Burke phase (15th and 16th centuries A.D.) and is believed to represent an ancestral Catawba Indian town. Archaeological investigations began at the Berry site in 1986. For the past two years, archaeologists from Warren Wilson College have returned to the Berry site, located north of Morganton in Burke County, to investigate what is believed to be the Spanish settlement of Cuenca, associated with Fort San Juan. The archaeologists have now identified four burned structures that are thought to have housed some of the Spanish soldiers stationed at Fort San Juan.

    Fort San Juan was built in 1567 by Captain Juan Pardo at the Native American town of Joara in an attempt to establish a line of support for the Spanish capital of Santa Elena on the coast of South Carolina near present-day Parris Island. Fort San Juan and its associated town of Cuenca pre-date North Carolina's Roanoke Colony (the 'Lost Colony') by 20 years, and represent the earliest European settlement in the interior of North America.


    FUTURE ARCHAEOLOGY AT THE BERRY SITE

    It is difficult to overstate the importance of the Berry site. There is compelling archaeological and documentary evidence that the Berry site is indeed the native town of Joara (see the Warren Wilson College archaeology web site for additional bibliographical and background information on the Berry site). Our investigations over the past two years make it clear that much of this fascinating site is well preserved - even following more than one hundred years of plowing. As the presumed site of Joara and the location of Fort San Juan, the site offers us the opportunity to study the direct interaction between sixteenth-century native peoples and soldiers of the invading Spanish armies. Although archaeologists and historians previously have been able to study such interaction in the coastal sites of Santa Elena and St. Augustine, the Berry site is currently the only site in the interior Southeast where such study can take place.

    It also seems clear from the archaeological evidence that the Berry site is one of the two or three largest sixteenth-century towns in the region. There is also evidence that chiefs in the upper Catawba Valley controlled the trade for salt between its source in southwest Virginia and chiefdoms in South Carolina and Georgia. Investigations of the Berry site should enable us to learn far more about the Native Americans who established this powerful chiefdom in the region. We hope to examine the evolution of the settlement and its relation to other sites in the upper Catawba valley.


    UPPER CATAWBA VALLEY ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT

    The investigations at the Berry site are part of a long-term research project concerned with the sixteenth-century settlement of Native Americans in the upper Catawba River valley. Over the next several years we hope to conduct archaeological investigations at the Berry site and other sites that that will help us to learn the answers to these research questions:


    4 July 2002 | David Moore | Warren Wilson College Archaeology | Field School 2002