Examining the Moat
An archaeologist examines the moat feature of Fort San Juan, built in 1567-forty years before the establishment of the English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. Image courtesy of the Warren Wilson College Department of Archaeology.
An archaeologist holds a projectile point from the Native America village of Joara which was adjacent to Fort San Juan. Image courtesy of the Warren Wilson College Department of Archaeology.
The Berry Site
Archaeologists excavating the site of Fort San Juan at the Berry Farm, north of Morganton, North Carolina, in the summer of 2013. Image courtesy of the Warren Wilson College Department of Archaeology.
Between 1566 and 1567, Juan Pardo, a Spanish explorer and conquistador, following the earlier example of Hernando DeSoto, led two expeditions into the Carolina and Tennessee mountains. His objective was to claim land for Spain, and especially to discover an overland route to Spain’s silver mines in Mexico. Pardo constructed Fort San Juan near present day Morganton, North Carolina, along with two other forts. But faced with the threat of an Indian attack on the Tennessee slopes of the Great Smoky Mountains, he decided to turn back. His retreat marked the end of Spain’s attempt to find a land route to Mexico through Appalachia, and his three forts were slowly abandoned. By the 18th century, Britain replaced Spain as the colonial power in southern Appalachia.
This map was created by Hieron. Chiaves (or Geronimo de Chavez) shortly after Hernando de Soto’s expedition of 1539-1542.
This map depicts the Native American town of Joara, or Xuala, between the mountains in the central portion of the map. First visited by Hernando de Soto’s expedition in 1540, the town was selected by Juan Pardo as the site for Fort San Juan.
Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio:
- Fort Discovered in Morganton, NC – About the Berry Site
- Papers Published on the Berry Site
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