GARS excavations at Fort Daniel reveal trench, hearth

ft_daniel_trench_n_hearth

Figure 1. Trench feature with hearth feature in background, both at the bottom of the plowzone.

The Gwinnett Archaeological Research Society (GARS) has put excavations at Fort Daniel on hold until analysis of recovered artifacts, representing more than one year of investigations at the site, and preparation of a technical report are completed. On the last day of field work in September, it was determined that two features, which had been the focus of the summer’s fieldwork, were definitely a hearth with probable toppled firebox, and a stockade wall trench (Figures 1 and 2). In his 1813 letter to the Commander at Hog Mountain, giving specific instructions about how to rebuild the circa 1790s fort, Major General Allen Daniel had stipulated that the stockade wall be constructed of timbers sunk 3 feet into the ground. The bisected trench feature, completed on the last day in the field, exhibited a post mold about 36 inches deep that was filled with surface soils, charcoal and brick fragments and ceramics, suggesting that the wall’s timbers had been pulled when the fort was abandoned sometime after 1815.

ft_daniel_trench_section

Figure 2. Bisection of trench feature with post mold outlined.

GARS archaeological advisor and site archaeologist, Jim D’Angelo, believes these features represent the west end of a stockade wall where it abutted a corner block house within which was the fireplace. The block house timbers would have been horizontal and sitting on the ground, perhaps on a brick foundation, accounting for the brick that has been found. Based on other results across the site, if this interpretation is correct, this would be the southwest corner of the fort.

In October, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation announced that Fort Daniel is one of 10 sites included on its 2009 Places in Peril list. The Trust, together with GARS and Friends of Fort Daniel, a local group organized to save the site from development, will host a “Spotlight on Fort Daniel,” at the Fort Daniel Elementary School, which is located near the site. Speakers at the December 8 event will include Mark McDonald, President of the Georgia Trust, Dennis Blanton, President of the Society for Georgia Archaeology, and State Archaeologist, David Crass. Jim D’Angelo and Shannon Coffey, site historian and conservator of Fort Daniel glass and ceramics, will give presentations on the archaeology of Fort Daniel and the site’s artifacts. Beverly Paff, chairperson of the Friends of Fort Daniel will speak on efforts to purchase the site and adjoining tracks to create a passive park where continuing archaeology can take place.

Progress on work at Fort Daniel can be followed via the GARS website.