Town halls set for Tyrrell County, Hammocks Beach projects

A shell midden on Bear Island eroding into Intercoastal Waterway in 2023. Photo: Office of State Archaeology
A shell midden on Bear Island, part of Hammocks Beach State Park, erodes into the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in this 2023 image. Photo: NC Office of State Archaeology

North Carolina Office of State Archaeology staff are completing two projects to identify resources and communities on state-owned, coastal lands impacted by 2018 hurricanes and that remain at risk of damage from future storm events.

Called the North Carolina Shorescape Survey, the public will have a chance to learn more about what they discovered during two town halls on the projects aimed to identify, document and assess archaeological resources on the shorelines of the Scuppernong River Dedicated Nature Reserve, Alligator River Game Lands, both in Tyrrell County, and Hammocks Beach State Park in Swansboro.

The first town hall is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, at the Tyrrell Senior Center, 406 Bridge St., Columbia, and the second 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at the Swansboro Area Heritage Center, 502 W. Church St., Swansboro.

Organizers said that the public is encouraged to share their knowledge of any historical sites, cemeteries, or stories about the history of these places, family or community ties or observations during the town halls.

Fieldwork at all locations was complete in December 2023 and data analysis is currently underway. Several new sites were discovered and paint a picture of long-term use of these lands. The fieldwork also revealed major impacts to sites in barrier island systems.

“The results of these studies are helping the state develop better management strategies and share the rich community and cultural histories of the North Carolina coast,” officials said.

The project was funded through the Emergency Supplemental Historic Preservation Fund appropriated by Congress in response to hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018 and administered by the National Park Service.

More information on these and other projects related to changing systems can be found on the projects website or this past report, “Surveys to guide moves to save cultural sites on state lands.”

Anna Harden

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