The past shapes the present, and the study of past is the key vision into explanations over how we got here, why we are the way we are, and what exactly our ancestors were like. Sure, some of that past is just explored for fun, or a glimpse into completely foreign ways of living, but when key discoveries are made in our own state, it’s truly fascinating to unearth the vast history of North Carolina. From pirates and forts to even mysterious petroglyphs – a lot of strange things have been discovered in North Carolina, and some are just downright fascinating, like these 8.
1. Judaculla Rock, Sylva
Archaeologist discovered the rock deep within the mountains of Jackson County, they estimated it to date back 2,000-3,000 years. The rock is covered with mysterious ancient petroglyphs and has perplexed archaeologists since first discovered. Native Americans claimed it to be the work of a slant-eyed giant named Judaculla (who controlled the area) while the more realistic believe it to be a hunting map.
2. Queen Anne's Revenge, Beaufort
In 1995, a ship and several artifacts were discovered off the coast of Beaufort. It wasn't until 15 years later that archaeologist confirmed it was in fact Queen Anne's Revenge, the flagship of infamous pirate Blackbeard. The ship was run aground on a sandbar in 1718 (some speculate it was on purpose by Blackbeard so he could keep the most valuable plunder).
Some finds that led to the discovery include apothecary weights stamped with tiny fleur-de-lis (a royal French symbol). The original ship was named Le Concorde, a French ship captured by Blackbeard and his crew. Other finds include a syringe, a cannon, gold, and a bell engraved with 1705. It's no doubt Blackbeard preferred to call North Carolina home, taking residence in Bath and later being killed in battle in the Pamlico Sound. It's only appropriate that his signature ship would appear years and years later. Today, you can see the discovered remains at the NC Maritime Museum.
3. Town Creek Indian Mound, Montgomery County
The original site of Town Creek Indian Mound has been extensively excavated and restored by archaeologists. Today, you can experience the reconstruction of Pee Dee Culture dating back to 1000-1600 AD. The Indian Mound is open year round and includes a platform mound, circular mortuary house, sacred square ground, and a reconstructed ceremonial center.
4. Morrow Mountain State Park, Stanly County
While Morrow Mountain makes for a beautiful day trip, there's tons of history here. The main archaeological interest is the number of quarry sites. These sites were used for thousands of years by Native Americans as sources for raw materials and chipped-stone tools. The stone, rhyolite, is found on Morrow Mountain's summit. Examples of this discovery can be seen today at the Visitor Center.
5. Lake Phelps, Pettigrew State Park, Washington County
Lake Phelps, a shallow, clear lake was the site of discovery of 30 dugout canoes dating back 4,400 years. The canoes were used by Native Americans to navigate the waters. Today, you can see an original canoe on display in the Exhibit building.
6. Bethabara Historic Park, Forsyth County
While extensive remains of Moravian settlements have been found in Old Salem and Bethania, Bethabara was one of the first Moravian settlements in North Carolina. Archaeological discoveries date back to the late 18th century. Many foundations of buildings and homes were discovered along the site, and reconstructed buildings turn your trip to the park into a walk through history.
7. Fort Raleigh, Dare County
Fort Raleigh is predicted to be the exact location of The Lost Colony, a group of 115 men, women, and children who ventured to America, settled, and vanished without a trace. Archaeological discoveries by J.C Harrington indicate a settlement dating back between 1585-1590. While no one knows the mystery of The Lost Colony, today, this section of Roanoke Island has been set aside and reconstructed as an example of where they would have lived.
8. Brunswick Town and Fort Anderson, Brunswick County
While there's not much 'discovery' to these historic ruins, it's still a fascinating piece of history left behind. Brunswick Town was an early settlement from 1720-1780 before it was ravaged by British Troops. During the Civil War, Fort Anderson was constructed on the site.
Archaeological discoveries took place in the 1950s and 70s. The ruins of 25 structures were found, including houses, churches, and craft buildings. You can see the remains of St. Phillips Church, the tomb of "King" Roger Moore (pictured above), hang out in the 'stocks,' and wander through the wooded path to more archaeological ruins.
Wow, how truly fascinating, and the best part is you can experience all of this history for yourself. Have you been to any of these sites or have any you want to add to the list?