Sampling of North Carolina's Archaeological Sites
Survey of the Shelly Point Site (31CR53)
Carteret County, North Carolina
The Cultural Resource
Group of Louis Berger & Associates, Inc. (LBA), recently conducted
an intensive archaeological survey of the Shelly Point Site (31CR53),
located on the Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field, Bogue (MCALF
Bogue), Carteret County, North Carolina. Project objectives were
to establish site boundaries, identify cultural affiliation, document
the integrity of archaeological deposits, and assess site potential
with respect to National Register of Historic Places eligibility.
The work was conducted at the request of the Wilmington District,
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with funds administered by the Mobile
The Shelly Point Site
is located on the southeast-facing shoreline of Bogue Sound, within
the reservation of MCALF Bogue, a facility administered by the U.S.
Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. Artifacts
previously recovered from the site, which was originally recorded
by Littleton and Mattson in 1969, suggested the presence of Early,
Middle, and Late Woodland as well as eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and
twentieth-century historic occupations. Concern about the continuing
impact of military activities and shoreline erosion on these cultural
deposits prompted the survey. I served as the principal investigator
while Mark Whitby performed crew chief duties. Kay Simpson was the
LBA project manager and Richard Kimmel was the Wilmington District
representative. Fieldwork was conducted from October 4 through 15,
The survey strategy
included mechanical excavation of a series of 30 trenches, 1.7 meters
in width by 5 meters in length, to a depth which exposed the surface
of culturally sterile subsoil. Trenches were placed in the vicinity
of the shoreline, near the tip of the peninsula, as well as away
from the apparent shell midden. This approach, based on Mark Mathis'
findings at the Broad Reach Site, was intended to identify habitation
areas believed to be located beyond the midden area. Mr. Mathis
also visited the site during the fieldwork and provided helpful
insights on matters relating to artifact types, site patterning,
and formation processes. Additionally, shovel tests were excavated
in those areas where dense growth restricted machine operation.
A pedestrian examination of the shoreline was also conducted.
As a result of these
activities, 40 features were identified. Lithic and ceramic diagnostic
materials recovered indicate the presence of Early, Middle, and
Late Woodland components at Shelly Point, although artifact density
suggests that the most intensive occupation occurred during the
Late Woodland period. A Middle Archaic Morrow Mountain projectile
point was also located, which suggests the possibility of the presence
of a pre-Woodland component at the site. The paucity of artifacts
predating the Woodland period occupation, however, argues against
the presence of such a component. One sherd of 19th century historic
ceramics was also recovered from the shoreline.
An examination of the
distribution of ceramics recovered from the site indicates that
greater than 60 percent of the small number of Early and Middle
Woodland sherds were recovered from the shoreline while only 25
percent of the Late Woodland materials were so located. Although
inconclusive, this occurrence suggests that the earlier occupations
at the site may have been centered near the tip of the peninsula,
and been most effected by erosion and sea level rise. No discernable
concentrations of artifacts were noted relative to features, inferred
structures, or postmolds.
Three features were
excavated to confirm their cultural origin. The features were basin-shaped
pits which contained large amounts of oyster and clam shell and
faunal material associated with duck, deer, frog, box turtle, rat,
possible dog, unidentified fish, unidentified bird, and unidentified
small and medium mammals. Radiocarbon dates of 910 +/- 60 AD (Beta-69589),
1120 +/- 60 AD (Beta-69588), and 1250 +/- 60 AD (Beta-69590) were
derived from shell samples taken from the three features. Additionally,
several large sherds of shell-tempered, plain surface, Late Woodland
White Oak ware were recovered from two of the features.
Trench excavation found
evidence of intact midden deposits in several areas of the site.
Also uncovered as a result of opening the trenches were 274 postmolds,
many aligned in linear and rectangular patterns. Several were excavated
to confirm their cultural origin. Close examination of the postmold
patterns confirmed the presence of at least three prehistoric structures.
Based on the data gathered
during this investigation, the Shelly Point Site (31CR53) appears
to occupy the entire peninsula and, although areas of disturbance
were noted, substantial portions of undisturbed midden as well as
intact cultural features remain. The site is considered eligible
for the National Register of Historic Places.
by William H.
Reid, Louis Berger & Associates, Inc.
by permission from the NEWSLETTER of the North Carolina
Archaeological Society, Spring 1994, Volume 4, Number 1. ©
North Carolina Archaeological Society 1994
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