Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 09:18 PM EDT
After years of excavations, archaeologists at a Burke County site are confident they've made a discovery of an early European settlement.
Within the past few weeks archaeologists are certain they have located the remains of "Fort San Juan." That fort was the first and largest effort to colonize what is now the American south. The discovery was thanks to Warren Wilson College's "Public Archeology Project".
They invite anyone to come work with them. This year there were close to 60 kids, ranging from fourth graders to high-schoolers.
Those taking part in the discovery, like Samantha Baker, say it's been thrilling. "It's been really exciting because you're finding things that no one has ever seen before. For hundreds of years, and it's like a little piece of the past."
Professor David Moore says they've been "working on houses at the other end of the site, where we know the Spanish men were garrison, but we haven't found evidence of fortifications, and now we have indisputable evidence." He says this one field in Burke county is a small piece of the colonial story, but a huge part of the colonial experience.
This project site alone has been studied for close to 30 years. It's estimated the site will be studied for another 10 to 15 years, so archaeologists can have the time to understand and interpret what they found.