A centuries-old Spanish fort lost to time on Parris Island has been reborn.
The footprint of Fort San Marcos, one of several forts built on the Santa Elena settlement during the 16th century, was discovered by archaeologists last year.
A three-dimensional scaled model of the fort was unveiled Friday at Santa Elena History Center on Bay Street in Beaufort. The model will become a permanent part of the center’s Santa Elena exhibit. The exhibit will eventually include a virtual reality experience of walking through the fort, center director Megan Meyer said.
University of South Carolina archaeologist Chester DePratter and model-maker Alex Coplo worked to recreate the fort and its contents.
“Fort San Marcos was an important landmark in Spain’s attempt to reclaim and hold on to Santa Elena, its northernmost colonial outpost and former capital in the 16th century,” DePratter said in a news release. “Working on this model brought the past to life for me.”
DePratter and Coplo began sketching the model soon after the discovery last July. Design software transformed the sketches into digital models by the end of the year, and the final model was complete in January.
The model includes several rooms inside and openings in the walls to accommodate about 10 cannons. The details were drawn from a map of the fort found in Spanish archives, a description of the fort penned in 1578 and the archaeology results.
DePratter’s search for San Marcos began in 1993. Working with University of Georgia’s Victor Thompson, the men solidified the discovery last July.
The fort was built in 1577 and founded by Pedro Menendez Marquez. The outpost went up in six days, with large pieces already made off-site to protect against an attack by Native Americans. A description of the fort and general location was known from the archived documents, The archaeologists use ground-penetrating radar and magnetometers to nail down the parameters.
Though the actual wooden materials have long become part of the earth, the fort could be found by identifying the large post holes required to support the two-story structure and from other signs of human interaction.
Camp Dig-it Summer Archaeology Program
Operator: Santa Elena History Center
Dates: Sessions June 28 and July 19
Times: 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Getting there: 1501 Bay St , Beaufort 29902
Fee info: $30