A small knoll overlooking Deer Creek near Green Bank is a pastoral hayfield now, but was a pretty busy place in the last several thousand years. The site was a settlement for Native Americans in prehistoric times, and also the site of a frontier fort in the Revolutionary War era.
Husband and wife archeologists Kim and Stephen McBride have conducted several excavations at the site over the last 10 years. They returned last weekend to direct a history and archeology program for the Calvin Price Appalachian Enrichment Series. The purpose of the event was to allow the public to visit and learn about the site, and give students hands-on experience in an actual archeological excavation.
William Warwick’s Fort was constructed at the site in 1774 and became an important local defensive position and refuge during the Revolutionary War. Previous digs have discovered
archaeological remains of the fort’s stockade, a building cellar, a hearth, and numerous colonial period artifacts.
On Friday, students from Pocahontas County High School and Green Bank Middle School assisted with the excavation. Under the direction of the McBrides and graduate assistants, the students scraped dirt from a grid square marked on the the ground, while other students sifted the dirt through screens to locate artifacts. The students found several interesting artifacts throughout the day, including a gunflint from the Pyrenees Mountains in France.
On Saturday, students from Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, Virginia, assisted with the excavation.
LHS history teacher Bill Terry said his students felt a connection to the site.
“The fort that was built here was built by the militia from Staunton, and I found some happy youngsters who wanted to be a part of this,” he said. “They’ve been taking it down to the sub-soil and sifting it through. Most of the things we’re finding are prehistoric, whether it be flint or arrowheads or spearheads. We have had some historic things, mainly nails. One of the kids found a buckle form a shoe.”
“I’m kind of a history freak, so I like going back and seeing things from the past,” she said. “I actually want to work as a National Geographic photographer, so, it would be a good idea to have some knowledge of archeology and anthropology and stuff like that.”
Virginia Kilborn, another LHS sophomore, appreciated the military aspect of the site.
“It’s been really cool,” she said. “I’ve really been enjoying it because all of my family are big history geeks, so it’s really nice coming and seeing this. It’s right up my dad’s and my brother’s alley, because they’re big into military history. And my dad’s National Guard, so it’s really cool to see this.”
Kim McBride said future studies at Fort Warwick could be done if funding becomes available. The former fort is located on property owned by retired schoolteacher Bob Sheets. Sheets has expressed interest in creating an historic site, open to the public, on his property.