The Walled City of Charleston
Friday, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Charleston is the only British walled city in built North America. A formal plan to enclose 62 acres of settlement within a brick and earthen fortification was launched in 1690 and realized by 1704. The landward walls, likely of earth, were abandoned by the second quarter of the 18th century, but the massive brick seawall along East Bay Street remained intact through the Revolution. Today, no above-ground traces remain. Portions of the brick seawall were exposed in archaeological excavations in the 1920s, the 1960s, and in 2008.
This self-guided tour takes you around the southern half of the walled city, guided by our Walled City Task Force brochure. Begin at Historic Charleston Foundation (Granville Bastion) for flyer pick-up and light refreshments. Walk the southern half of the city wall at your own pace, map in hand. Archaeologists will be stationed at key points (bastions, redan, gate) to describe archaeological projects there. We’ll return to 40 East Bay for more refreshments, then we’ll head some place to eat or drink.
The Charleston Museum
The Charleston Museum is America’s oldest, founded in 1773. The Museum preserves and interprets the cultural and natural history of Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry. Since the 1970s, The Charleston Museum has been a leader in historical and urban archaeology, holding vast collections from both urban and rural sites. Archaeological materials are part of all permanent exhibitions. Curator Martha Zierden will lead a guided tour of collections in the storeroom, and attendees can peruse the exhibit galleries at their own pace.
The 1780 Siege of Charleston and the Aiken-Rhett House
Saturday, 3:00-5:00 p.m.
The Aiken-Rhett house, one block from the Museum, stands alone as the most intact mansion and associated outbuildings showcasing urban life in antebellum Charleston. Built in 1820, the property was greatly expanded by Gov. and Mrs. William Aiken, Jr. in the 1830s and 1850s. A successful businessman, rice planter, distinguished politician and governor of South Carolina, William Aiken, Jr. was one of the state’s wealthiest citizens. Following a well-established tradition among Charleston’s elite, Governor Aiken and his wife, Harriet Lowndes Aiken, traveled in Europe and returned with magnificent fine art and furnishings. Today, visitors will find many of these objects in the same rooms for which they were purchased. The property also includes the only preserved examples of urban slave quarters, as well as a full retinue of service buildings. More recently, the Aiken-Rhett yard produced archaeological evidence of the British approach lines for the 1780 siege of the city. This is the only site in Charleston where the trenches have been identified. Curators and archaeologists will answer questions about archaeology after the self-guided audio tour.
Civil War Defenses on James Island
The Charleston Museum operates the Dill Sanctuary on James Island as a wildlife refuge and historic site. The most visible are extensive Civil War earthworks guarding the Stono River. including Battery Pringle, Battery Tynes, Battery Leroy, and an extensive breastwork. The 580-acre property also includes archaeological sites from the Woodland period through the early 20th century. Museum archaeologist Ron Anthony has excavated the plantation sites on the property for two decades. He will lead a tour of the earthworks and other archaeological sites.