Limited explorations of some of the harborside fortifications were conducted in the early and mid 20th century in Charleston. While these excavations were were certainly informative, there have been no complete, systematic archaeological investigations that have focused on the early brick fortifications of Charles Town and many questions remain. An opportunity to find answers through excavation of one of the brick defensive features of the walled city currently exists at the intersection of East Bay Street and South Adger’s Wharf. This is the site of one of the brick redans. Inside this redan was located a governmental building, labeled “court house” in a 1739 engraving of the town. Just to the east of the redan was the lower market of the town. Excavations at this site have the potential to yield important information about the early fortifications as well as other significant aspects of life in colonial Charles Town.

The location of the redan is made clear through documentary sources like a highly detailed plat from 1784. The site of the redan is just opposite Tradd Street, where South Adger’s Wharf begins. The ballast stones in South Adger’s Wharf were taken up when work was set to begin on a public works project nearly. The city of Charleston and Charleston Water System made the decision to map, remove, and store the stones so that they would not incur damage from heavy machinery rolling over them. Currently, the first 60 feet of South Adger’s Wharf moving east from East Bay Street is covered with only a layer of asphalt. The replacement of the ballast (cobble) stones is scheduled to be completed in the Fall of 2007 at an approximate cost of $25,000.

The Mayor’s Walled City Task Force has proposed that a systematic archaeological dig be accomplished at the site before the stones are replaced. Both the City Engineers office and Charleston Water System have pledged to work with the Task Force in this endeavor with loan of equipment, issuance of permits, etc. The Walled City Task Force anticipates that a thorough, professional archaeological excavation can be accomplished within a few weeks and at an approximate cost of $50,000.The work will be conducted by in late October or early November by archaeologist Martha Zierden and by Brockington and Associates.

TheWalled City Task Force is committed to making the excavations and results part of an ongoing educational outreach program for the public, especially for school age children, to learn more about the walled city and colonial Charleston as well as the importance of historical archaeology.

The City of Charleston has donated $25,000 to the project and both Historic Charleston Foundation and the Charleston County Public Library have pledged staff time. However, we are still looking for additional funds. If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution, please contact Katherine Saunders at ksaunders[AT]historiccharleston.org.

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