Fort at Joseph Edwards's land grant represents a very important
mid-eighteenth century Virginia frontier archaeological site. It
is both the homestead of a prominent early settler of Hampshire County
(now West Virginia's oldest county), and the site of a frontier fort of
the French and Indian War. There are very few early frontier sites
of this era in either Virginia or West Virginia now being interpreted
for the public. There are even fewer fort sites that are precisely
known; ours is the only one owned by a foundation committed to
preservation, study and interpretation.
Although nationally there are many French and Indian War fort sites now
open to the public, these sites are, for the most part, related to
British garrisons and campaigns or to the French military. There
were no regular British soldiers garrisoned on the Virginia frontier, so
there are not the usual archival materials to give us a picture of what
existed at any Virginia site. Designs and narrative descriptions
of most major forts exist in libraries and archives. Our design is
a secret that has lain buried for over two centuries. This makes
the Fort Edwards site a unique opportunity to learn about and interpret
a colonial fort and the associated colonial military life and
Because of the uniqueness of this site, The Fort Edwards Foundation is
committed to completing extensive investigations. Although The
Foundation's resources are very limited, we recognize the importance of
getting the most professional assistance available to preserve, protect
and interpret our site. Therefore, several years ago we developed
a Comprehensive Site Resource Management Plan. Part of the plan
called for extensive exploration of the site.
The 1990 Dig
of Joseph Edwards's fort had lain undisturbed for over 200 years except
for the farming of the site. However, in the last decade of the
twentieth century it faced a modern hazzard - development. A developer
had bought the land and had plans for a 70 unit townhouse development.
In order to encourage preservation of this important site a small grant
was secured to do a brief archaeological investigation to see if the
location of the fort site could be documented. Dr. Bill Gardner of
Thunderbird Research Corp. who had a personal interest in the
colonial forts of Virginia, graciously agreed to undertake a quick
investigation. [See first three photos in the archaeology photo gallery] Fortunately, on the
third and last day of his work the trash pit was discovered that
revealed artifacts verifying mid-eighteenth century occupation and some
post molds were found. In light of this evidence the developer set aside
two and a half acres to protect the fort site. Fortunately, he was
unable to get all the services he needed for a development, so the site
again went on the market. In 1995 The Fort Edwards Foundation was
founded with the sole purpose of buying and protecting the site.
The 2001 Dig
2001, The Foundation started more extensive archaeological investigation
of the site. The work was carried on under the direction of Dr.
Stephen McBride of Wilbur Smith Associates. Dr. McBride has
extensive experience with later frontier forts of West Virginia having
done an inventory of the Greenbrier Valley forts and having worked at
Fort Arbuckle and Logan's fort. The dig uncovered over six
thousand artifacts and about fifty features including a stockade wall
segment with an in-wall bastion. Unfortunately, the investigation
did not discover the entire outline of the fort. In fact, we came
to the conclusion that information will probably come only after far
more extensive work.
A Second Dig
September 2004 The Foundation contracted with Dr. McBride to do a second
dig in October. The goal of the first dig was primarily to find
the complete outline of the fort. We were not successful in doing
that for several reasons. The goal of this second dig is to do more
critical investigation of the features we have already found but not
fully understood, rather than to find more features. The first dig
found over fifty features, but we were not able to determine what many
of them were. The search for the fort outline did not leave us
much time to evaluate each feature we found. The 2004 dig is to take the
time to go back and look at these features including the two foundations
and analyze them more fully.
Results of 2004 Dig
October 2004 dig exceeded our expectations; it discovered a second
bastion that gives a unique and interesting imprint to our fort.
It also found what may be the Edwards's house site. Other
features were discovered and some formerly discovered features were
restudied; our understanding of many of these features is still
inconclusive. See the reports listed above for a detailed account of the
dig. See the Dig Summary for an artist's conception of what our stockade wall looked
we will not get the final report and have all the artifacts in hand
until after Christmas or later, we hope to have a few items to put on
display in our current exhibit. There will be some photographs of
the work available for viewing. However, it will be next year
before we have a full display of the artifacts that will be unearthed in
October. The daily reports
that we put on this web site will be the best source of information
available on the dig. Please check each day for reports!
Fort Edwards Foundation expects to continue studying the site. It
is hoped that we will be able to secure funding to have archaeology
projects on site every few years. The investigation of this unique
site will take many years to complete. Please check back
occassionally to find out about upcoming projects.
Protecting the Site
trenches and pits have now been covered. All areas that were
investigated have been protected for future reinvestigation. No
one will be allowed on the site unless escorted by a Foundation
official. We ask your assistance in protecting the site.
This site is registered with the West Virginia State Archaeologist
and is protected by state law. Any unauthorized person found on
the site may be prosecuted for trespass.