The Germanna Foundation held a public access day Saturday in conjunction with the 300th anniversary of the founding of Spotsylvania. The history organization hosted its annual public access day to Germanna’s archaeological digs sites, educational opportunities regarding colonial life and a visit from Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood, himself.
Spotswood was the guest of honor and proclaimed the formation of Spotsylvania County at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Fort Germanna archaeological site located across the highway from the Fort Germanna Visitor Center in Locust Grove.
Spotswood was born in 1676 and served in the British Army, before being named Lt. Gov. of Virginia. He is remembered in history for a number of initiatives, including exploring the Virginia frontier, establishing the first colonial ironworks and negotiating the Treaty of Albany with the Iroquois Nation.
In 1714, Spotswood commissioned Fort Germanna and the first Germanna colony migrated from the Siegerland area of Germany. More than 40 Germans were greeted by Spotswood, building and inhabiting Fort Germanna (Ger- to honor the German colonists and Anna to honor Queen Anne).
Saturday, approximately 130 visitors were given the chance to see archaeological progress in the search for the fort that Spotswood commissioned.
“Although we had a short season, we dug deeper than ever before and found a ground surface with ash and nails that predate the construction of The Enchanted Castle (Spotswood’s house),” said head archaeologist Dr. Eric Larsen.
Germanna staff archaeologists engaged with visitors and allowed them to see active excavations while event staff educated visitors about frontier life within the fort. Information tables included subjects like how colonists made clay pots, wrote with quill and ink and shaped rocks.
The event was free to the public, but because of health precautions the foundation required visitors to book times for hourly tours. Hand sanitizer was available on site and masks were recommended, but not required.
“In a normal year, we would’ve had four our five events like this one,” said event coordinator Ashley Abruzzo. “Today’s event was successful because of good weather and good turn-out.”
The Fort Germanna Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is closed Saturday and Sunday. For more information about Fort Germanna and the Germanna Foundation, visit: www.germanna.org.
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