Ever wondered about the story behind that slab of tabby standing inside an iron fence in Marion Square? Well, you’re not alone. For Charlestonians and tourists alike, that curious mass of oyster-shell cement seems to defy explanation. A small iron plaque from the 1880s provides the only clue to its history: “Remnant of Horn Work. May 1780. Siege of Charleston.” Those few words provide but a paltry testimonial of the importance and scale of what was once a major part of Charleston’s fortification history. That slab of tabby, measuring approximately six feet high and nearly ten feet long, is just a very small part of what was once a five to seven acre fortification that served both as the town gate, straddling King Street, and the centerpiece of Charleston’s defenses during the British siege of 1780. It’s actually a textbook example of a Horn Work—a type of fortification characterized by a pair of half-bastions or “horns” connected by a central curtain line. The foundation of the entire eastern half of the Horn Work lies just below the grassy surface of Marion Square, while the other half is now covered by buildings on the west side of King Street.

Horn_Work_flyer_2013Care to learn more about the Horn Work? Please join Dr. Nic Butler, public historian at the Charleston County Public Library, for an illustrated history of this “tabby fortress” from its creation in 1757 to its demolition in 1784. Information drawn from colonial descriptions, period illustrations, and recent archaeology, provide sufficient information to re-imagine the Horn Work in an exciting new three-dimensional rendering. Please join the Walled City Task Force for an exploration of its history, and become an advocate for the improved interpretation and protection of this important city landmark.



“The Horn Work: Charleston’s Tabby Fortress, 1757—1784”

Time: Wednesday, October  23rd at 6:00 p.m.

Place: Charleston County Public Library Auditorium, 68 Calhoun St., 29401.