The Walled City of Charleston: Archaeology and Public Interpretation

Author(s): Katherine Pemberton; Martha Zierden

Year: 2014


Charleston, South Carolina is the only walled city in British colonial North America. Fearing the settlement’s position “in the very chap of the Spaniard,” the English enclosed roughly sixty acres of high ground in thick walls of brick and earth. As these threats diminished and Charles Town expanded economically, the fortifications were abandoned and demolished. This defensive feature is largely invisible, in both landscape and imagination. Recently the Walled City Task Force excavated the brick sea wall and redan along East Bay Street. The project provided an opportunity to gather details on construction, maintenance, and abandonment of the city’s early defenses. It also provided unparalleled opportunities for public engagement, from the dig itself to onsite, museum, and digital exhibition, supported by the 2012 Public Outreach Grant from the Southeastern Archaeological Conference. This project led to heightened awareness and subsequent small-scale explorations of the wall on both public and private land.

Cite this Record

The Walled City of Charleston: Archaeology and Public Interpretation. Katherine Pemberton, Martha Zierden. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437176)

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-63,01