Archaeology in the Parks: Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site

Today we continue our ongoing park series with a blog entry by Dorchester State Park Archaeologist Mary Wightman.

Figure. Photograph of the brick bell tower of St. George’s Anglican Church at Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site.

From 1697 until the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the trading town of Dorchester flourished along the Ashley River, inland from colonial Charleston. Today, the remarkably preserved archaeological remains at Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site provide visitors a glimpse into the early history of colonial South Carolina.

Figure. Group of volunteers screening soils for artifacts

Most archaeological investigations at Colonial Dorchester SHS have been conducted as public outreach programs and have heavily relied upon the recruitment of volunteers to conduct research tasks in order to meet project goals. Volunteers regularly assist the on-site archaeologist with the varying activities that occur in the field and the lab; such as mapping, archaeological test unit excavation, feature documentation, and artifact recovery.

Field investigations are generally conducted as day-long activities over a several week period during the spring and fall months when visitation to the park is more active. This provides volunteers an opportunity to assist with the process of archeology while allowing visitors to learn about the site’s significance and latest discoveries.

Figure. Volunteers Bob Welch and Josh Chaplin assist with screening the excavated soils to recover artifacts at Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site.

Volunteers and avocational archaeologist make field investigations possible at Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site. We are incredibly thankful for all those individuals who have dedicated time and energy to participate in our investigations and help broaden our understanding of colonial life in the town of Dorchester. 

Lot 52,38DR03,crew,30APR13 (3)
Figure. Volunteer Sue Bird assists with excavations in Lot 52 at Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site

For more information about Colonial Dorchester visit

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