Excavation now underway on St. Augustine's Charlotte Street, reveals links to earliest settlers

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Tiny grains of dirt have already uncovered pieces of history deep underneath Charlotte Street.

St. Augustine archeologist Carl Halbirt and his team of volunteers have been busy excavating since Tuesday.

“We have found pottery that dates to the 19th century,” said Halbirt.

The work is drawing the attention of tourists of all ages, with some even using it as a teaching opportunity.

Brandon Frizzell, 10, is getting a very visual history lesson.

“Mostly hundreds of years ago, you can find stuff that people have actually touched and done,” said Frizzell.

Last Thursday, Action News Jax reported on how the city is looking to lay down a new water line but a more in depth dig was needed after Halbirt discovered ancient human remains in Charlotte Street last year.

“Those were people that predate 1702 and may have gone back as early as original settlers that came with Pedro Menéndez in 1565,” said Halbirt.

Crews are now working to see if any more remains were buried in the projected path of the new water line.

So far none have been found, but if they are, the discovery could delay the water line project.

“We would have to actually remove those human remains from the right of way corridor,” said Halbirt.

Halbirt said they’d also have to work with the state to develop a mitigation plan. The Catholic Church would also have to be notified because it’s likely the remains were those of Catholic Spanish settlers. Finally, a forensic archaeologist would need to study the remains to find out more about the individual beforethe remains can be permanently preserved in another cemetery.

No matter what they find, the work will go a long way to telling a much clearer story of the nation’s oldest city.

“St. Augustine's primary economy is heritage tourism, and archaeology is part of that heritage tourism,” said Halbirt.

The small stretch of Charlotte Street is one of two locations the team will be testing over the next two weeks.