Croghan at Aughwick: History, Maps, and Archaeology Collide in the Search for Fort Shirley

Burns, Jonathan A.; Drobnock, George John; Smith, Jared M.
October 2010
Pioneer America Society Transactions;2010, Vol. 33, p14
Fort Shirley was an important colonial era frontier site erected by George Croghan as a trading post but later reconfigured as a provincial fort in October of 1755 to facilitate trade and to protect English colonists against the aggressions of the French and their Native American allies. The archaeological remains of the fort lies somewhere in the agricultural fields north of the town of Shirleysburg, Pennsylvania; however, its exact location remains a mystery. Local historical accounts differ from period land surveys and maps. Much more than just an outpost, the site was a hub of activity for travelers, traders, and emissaries of the commonwealth and Native Americans; therefore it is mentioned often in historic accounts. A few early attempts to locate the fort have been made in the past based from journals and manuscripts, but modern scientific techniques been never been applied towards the goal. This research demonstrates how archaeology may be used to complement and even correct the historic record, as confounding historical references collide with archaeological inquiry to locate the traces of the fort. The historical record can be a paradox for researchers as it is often proven that the past was not necessarily as it was recorded.


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