During a building demolition project six years ago, the 1940 bronze plaque marking the approximate location of Carteret Bastion mysteriously disappeared. The plaque and the bank building being demolished were then located on the southeast corner of Meeting and Cumberland Streets in downtown Charleston. For many years, that site was thought to have been occupied by Carteret Bastion, one of the corner bastions of the earliest phase of the “walled city,” which stood from late 1703 to the early 1730s. When the historical plaque was first minted in 1940, however, it was placed at the northeast corner of that intersection, and moved to the southeast corner in 1970. Since the plaque disappeared around 2002, Katherine Saunders and I have enjoyed a number of conversations about the evidence for the “real” location of Carteret Bastion, pondering which corner might be appropriate for a newly-cast marker. When the 1940 plaque resurfaced this summer, we were in agreement that the northwest corner of Meeting Street and Horlbeck Alley was the most appropriate home, and we’re pleased to see that has now been re-mounted there.

Our reasoning behind this decision? First, we know that Meeting Street, between Tradd and Cumberland Streets, was an active thoroughfare in Charleston during the period 1703–1730, when we know Carteret Bastion was standing. Thus the bastion must have been located on the west side of the street, approximately at the present site of Horlbeck Alley. Second, some archaeological investigation has been performed at the southeast and southwest corners of that intersection, but no evidence of a wall or bastion was located at either site. Third, anecdotal evidence supplied by construction workers digging in the early 1980s at the northeast corner of the intersection, the original location of the plaque, suggests that no traces of fortifications rest at that site. In short, the northwest corner is of Meeting and Horlbeck Alley may not mark the precise location of Carteret Bastion (named for Sir John Carteret, Earl of Granville, who was one of the Lord Proprietors of Carolina at the time the wall was erected in 1703-4), but in the modern streetscape of Charleston it represents the most appropriate site to commemorate this historical feature. You can read more about this story in Robert Behre’s article “Bastion marker resurfaces in new locale” in today’s edition of the Charleston Post and Courier.

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