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Researchers discover original site of St. Mary’s Fort built by Maryland's founders

Historical St. Mary's City 1634 Fort Site
Posted at 2:59 PM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 14:59:31-04

ST. MARY'S CITY, Md. — After decades of digging, researchers have discovered the original site of St. Mary’s Fort, built by the European settlers who founded Maryland.

The newly uncovered site in Historic St. Mary's City is about the size of a football field.

Constructed in March of 1634, St. Mary's Fort was the fourth English colony in the country following Jamestown (1607), Plymouth (1620), and Massachusetts Bay (1630).

According to English colonial records, about 150 colonists initially arrived in Maryland on two ships, Ark and Dove, in an area that was home to the Yaocomaco, a tribe loosely allied with the Piscataway paramount chiefdom.

Little more is known about that period in time. Researchers hope the archaeological study of St. Mary’s Fort reveals new information about Maryland’s colonial past.

Researchers have been conducting fieldwork in the area since 1971, but definitive traces of the fort weren't found until 2018, with a grant from the Maryland Historical Trust.

Those funds made it possible for Dr. Travis Parno, Director of Research and Collections for Historic St. Mary’s City, to hire geophysicist Dr. Timothy J. Horsley to survey two suspected locations using magnetic susceptibility, magnetometry, and ground-penetrating radar.

The plan is for the fort to be integrated into Historic St. Mary’s City's living history program in time for the state’s 400th anniversary in 2034.

In the meantime, the excavation site is open during public visitation hours.

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