Exploring the Remains of Fort San Juan

Working at the site of Fort San Juan


This week’s headlines have been filled with the news of the discovery of Fort San Juan by archaeologists associated with Warren Wilson College, Tulane University and the University of Michigan. The importance of this discovery can’t be understated. Here at Cultural Resources, it’s been our privilege to play a part in the research at Morganton from the very beginning. We gave the project’s researchers their first grant to start work in 1984, and our Office of State Archaeology provided technical assistance to the archaeologists, while our Research Branch helped find evidence of the fort in the historical record.

Helmets like these were worn by Spanish explorers in the 1500s. This particular one can be seen at the N.C. Museum of History.


Though our role was a relatively small one, this is a great example of the partnerships with academic researchers and local historical enterprises that we’re involved with every day. Several of our agencies have also produced some useful resources to help you learn more about Fort San Juan and its significance:

We’ve also featured the story of the fort and the Pardo Expeditions as part of our This Day in North Carolina project, and Our Historical Highway Markers Program commemorated the fort in 2008. Click here to see pictures of the site taken on a recent visit by Cultural Resources Deputy Secretary Kevin Cherry and here to read more about this momentous discovery. 

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