Big archeological dig begins at Fort Caswell

FORT CASWELL, N.C. -- Digging nearly 200 years into North Carolina's history, the first ever archaeological dig at Fort Caswell in Brunswick County started about three weeks ago.

With shovels and sifters, archaeologists in training are digging through the layers of history buried at the fort.

"It made it that much more exciting because we didn't really have people saying this is what you're looking for, this is what is expected of you, it was more of a let's just get in there and try," said Tarecka Payne, a student.

While trying to peer into the past, Payne found her future.

"I felt like actually getting out in the field and experiencing would be the yea or nay of whether or not I stuck with it and it's definitely a yea," said Payne.

Career confidence isn't the only thing surfacing at the 2013 William Peace University Archeological Field School.

Over the last three weeks, around 20 students and some volunteers have discovered soldier barracks and one of the fort walls.

"We were all excited and a freaking out, trying to get it all uncovered and cleaned up," said Courtney Baum, a student.

"This is what makes archaeology really interesting because there aren't records of this, we don't have the nice document trail so archaeology helps explain this or at least gives us an idea of what's there," said Perry Grosch, a student.

And by mapping out their findings, future archaeologist can pick up where they left off.
The instructors said their work could help land the site on the National Register of Historic Places.

"We're interested in getting things out of the ground and we're interested finding what we see under the ground but our main priority is respecting the resources and preserving them for the future," said Vincent Melomo, co-director of Archaeological Field School.

With the fort's role in the Spanish-American War, the Civil War, both world wars, and even a vacation resort, Payne said they're just scratching the surface of what's out there.

"There's always that question is there something under the wall?" said Payne.

The month-long dig wraps up at the end of the week. The field school takes place every other year. Instructors said they hope to return to Fort Caswell to continue their research.