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Youtube . . . the architecture of Fort Caroline with surprises

Youtube . . .  the architecture of Fort Caroline with surprises


A thorough analysis of French and Spanish archives was utilized to create the most accurate possible architectural model of Fort Caroline, from which numerous virtual reality images.  When I reviewed French archives, I found that all letters to the king, maps, books and memoirs placed Fort Caroline near the mouth of the Altamaha River in Georgia.  When I reviewed Spanish archives, I found the same situation . . . but the maps had been ignored.  The publicly viewed English translations of letters to the king of Spain from Governor Pedro Menendez had been altered so that the locations he described would be at the location of Fort Caroline National Memorial and present day St. Augustine.


“Puerto donde poder desembarcar junto a ellos, y a ocho leguas de su Puerto por mar, y a seis por tierra, encontré uno que había reconocido antes, día de San Agustín, que está en treinta grados y medio (30 1/2 degrees latitude) escaso y a los seis d’éste, desembarqué en él doscientos soldados, y a los siete, entraron tres navíos pequeños con otros trescientos y los casados con sus mujeres e hijos, y desembarqué la más de la artillería y municiones.   El río San Mateo (May River)  que pasa junto al fuerte que capturamos, se extiende setenta leguas tierra adentro y gira hacia el sudeste vaciando la bahía de Juan Ponce. En este río hay tres grandes ciudades indias … Este puerto tiene treinta y medio grados, y el San Mateo (Fort Caroline) que capturamos tiene treinta y uno grados  (31 degrees latitude)“.

Sealed letter from  Governor Pedro Avilles Menendez to the King of Spain


If you don’t know Spanish, what the document above says is that the “first Thanksgiving” and “first location of St. Augustine” between September 1565 and March 1566 was on Amelia Island, Florida.  There is a possibility that Menendez was slightly off in his calculations and the first St. Augustine was at St. Marys, Georgia . . . but he definitely was not at the present location of St. Augustine.  In another letter, he stated that his flagship could not enter the harbor at a bay with the latitude of present day St. Augustine. Another letter tells the King of Spain in February that he is moving the colony southward to present day St. Augustine Bay.  That’s right Florida university professors intentionally changed the numbers above to 29 1/2 and 30 so no once would catch that Fort Caroline was in the wrong place.




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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.




    Google > Racoon Key Georgia first site of Fort Augustine

    The article is being far the best evidence from contemporary accounts, deductive reasoning and satellite photographs I’ve seen on the latter. It’s a slam dunk. Promise!


    The story is a complete account of the entire episode right down to how Ribault’s French flagship La Trinite ended up being found just off Cape Canaveral a couple of years ago.

    The bad news for the salvors is that the wreck and it’s very valuable cargo belongs to the government of France according to US maritime law.

    Looking forward to seeing this on your new site! 😊

    • There is one problem. The Trinite was not carrying the marble column. However, in 1563, the Spanish raided Charlesfort at Port Royal, SC which had been abandoned by its colonists. They loaded the French cannons and a marble column on a Spanish ship, which sank off the coast of Florida on the way to Havana. That’s what you get when journalists turn into parrots rather than fact-checking and lawyers don’t do their homework. It’s a Spanish ship, carrying French cannons.



    Forget the La Trinite shipwreck for a second and let’s move on to the most probable location for Fort Caroline.

    If you check out the good reproduction sketch (to scale) of Le Moyne’s Fort Caroline you will see at the bottom the word “Occidens” which of course means West. That gives you the orientation of the side facing the depicted river. This means the west wall is North-South oriented. Next check out his sketch of the natives around the French column. You will see what looks like 2 French onion soup bowls with their distinctive knob handles. Hold those pictures in your mind for a minute while I explain the rest.

    The location stated from the best sources is near the mouth of the Altamaha. When the Spanish took over Charlesfort they just rebuilt Fort St Helene on the existing structure because it was already at a good location. They did the same for Fort Caroline with San Mateo. My guess is that Olgethorpe did the same when he built Fort Frederica. That means Fort Caroline IS Fort Fredericka. The archeological artifacts unearthed there are also supportive of this hypothesis. There are very similar French ‘onion soup bowls with those knobby handles, quite a bit of French flint for the early flintlocks and an unidentified coin that of which the parts you can make out (the two ‘o’s and the distinctive marks on the edge) are identical to some Charles IX coins I have seen from the 1560’s.

    The pics of the artifact in question are at the official site with the GIS tag when you Google “Fort Frederica archeological”

    • That is an interesting idea because St. Simons Island is at the mouth of the Altamaha (May) River. Thank you!


        The article that starts … “view the new GIS ” Go to the artifacts section lower down.

        I checked out the French flintlock parts and they fit perfectly with the early period pieces from the 1640’s onward which replaced the inferior matchlock versions. Also the deep hole indicated on Google maps) where the ships would be at anchor is just offshore and visible from the south of St Simons Island so they could see the Spanish coming and cut their anchor cables before Menendezs’s huge 900 ton galleon could board them.

        If this is true then the anchors would likely still be there.

        The Spanish excavated their temporary digs with 390 slaves for the planned assault just to the south of Jekyll Island at Racoon Key. That sets the distances and timing of the attack on Fort Caroline up perfectly.

        Plenty more incriminating evidence for that site too to come later!


    Also remember that the French that overwintered at Fort Caroline did not plant a crop that year. Oglethorpe also found that the soil was very poor for agricultural purposes.

    They sold the fort’s cannons to a British vessel passing by that they hailed from the island since they were planning on leaving. They got a seaworthy vessel in exchange just before Ribault’s return. That would also point to a site close to the sea and not near the bluffs at Darien. The Altamaha has shifting shoals and that could be why sailing up it might have been hazardous.

    The old Fort Caroline site would have suited the Spanish well because they thought it would be far enough from the natives who were still upset about those numerous slave raids. Unfortunately they had no such luck lol!

    From Oglethorpe’s position the Fort Frederica would be largely impregnable from Spanish naval assault since they could not get close enough to hit it with their big guns. Let’s not forget that Fort Frederica was mainly there to protect the British southern flank. The water above the offshore sheltered deep “Hole” there was just too shallow on the lower stretch of the May river.

    Of course all those artifacts may have arrived there at a later period as anthropologists will try to claim but the timelines and distances of the Spanish records of the attack fit very very well.

    (Yes still much more to come at a later date lol!)


    No… we are both wrong.

    The ship is not the La Trinite OR a Spanish vessel. It is that damn English vessel that traded the french a seaworthy ship for the contents of the fort… literally ‘lock stock and barrels’ but also including their bronze cannons and that Fort Caroline COLUMN that they had no use for anymore.

    Hell of a fire sale Richard. That column which was the stupidest and most useless thing they bought is now priceless. Wow. It needs to come home I think.

    Like the RIGHT place perhaps for a change lol!

    • The Spanish did take the column and cannon from Charlesfort in South Carolina in 1563, but the ship was lost at sea on the way to Havana. I wrote the company that was salvaging the shipwreck with the specific passages in De Laudonniere’s book then later the professors hired by the State of Florida, when it was trying to get the contents of the ship. The owner of the archaeological salvage company at least said, “Thank you, but we know better.” The professors never replied. The current generation of “journalists” don’t fact check. I have a feeling that much of what is presented as media as history, is really propaganda.


        Makes sense. I hadn’t come across Laudonniere’s report. Been too busy looking at the archeological reports on Fort Frederica.

        There are references made to a 1736 site drawing of the area made by someone named Ausburger.

        The layout of the 35 acre (+/-) town site lots inside of the fortified enclosure was accompanied by another very curious cluster of regularly laid out 60 by 90 foot lots OUTSIDE of the town enclosure. This assumed residential development is called “the Strands” in the report. They are just south of the fort along the Frederica river. I am thinking that “the Strands” lots might predate Ft Frederica and belong instead to the Fort Caroline/Fort Mateo settlements.


    Apologies… I forgot to explain the context to your readers.

    The British ship left with the contents of the fort. The bronze cannons and the other 17 or so iron cannon were WELL worth the price of a ship at that time. The column was probably a last minute gag joke departure gift by the French lol!

    The British vessel left JUST before Ribault’s arrived with the supplies and backup. He must have been pissed. Anyway… the Spanish now arrive in a fleet with a 900 ton galleon… 5 times larger than the La Trinite. The Trinite is faster than Mendez’s storm damaged beast so he disembarks at Racoon Key or thereabouts. The Trinite fleet is caught in the same hurricane as the British vessel and all ships perish. The British vessel at Cape Canaveral and the french vessels further north closer to Menendez. The rest is history


    Final comments. Promise

    The paper you are looking for is Honerkamp’s 1985 report “On the Waterfront”. A La Moyne illustration of the fort shows the pedestrian access to the fort was located on the south side of the fort in the vicinity of where the Strands start. They excavated a grid of test pits along the riverfront with numerous post holes in them. Also one La Moyne inspired illustration shows the existing elbow bend of the river in front of the fort. Also Oglethorpe found 40 acres cleared and inhabited by natives at the site. The ground there unlike most of the island was rich in organics and fertile.

    I will find you the Charles IX coin match for the unidentified 29 mm coin with the two “O’s” positioned in the same place (Carolvs XI Moneta Nova) and the disticlnct rim shortly.



    What are late medieval to 16th century artifacts doing in the Fort Frederica National Monument museum collection?

    Specifically one artifact FOFR2336 which is a classic earthenware pipkin of late medieval to post medieval style and substance ( Google > earthenware pipkin). Secondly there are 2 brass ‘musket hammers’ that are NOT musket hammers because brass is too weak to withstand repeated hammering against a frizzen to produce a spark. These two artifacts, FOFR898 and FOFR2336 are actual flint holders for a wheelock musket circa 1500 to 1600.

    All three artifacts found at Google >Fort Frederica GIS. Download the entire 302 artifact collection and check these out when you get time. Pages 11 and 12.


    • My guess is that they are some of the 16th century artifacts found at the real site of Fort Caroline and Fort San Marco in 1935 by National Park Service archaeologist Jame Ford. Thank you for the info! I am getting up at 5:30 AM because of a deadline, but will look at the pages later this week.


    Apologies… The second brass ‘musket hammers’ is FOFR906.

    Also I read your article on Fort Caroline resending by the highway across from Darien but Laudonnierre was stated to have walked a short distance from the creek to a bluff where Fort Caroline was built. That close creek still exists at Fort Frederica. The walls and linear moat remains you can still easily see on Google Maps. The orientation of the Fort is perfect (north wall just off North) as are the distances stated by both Ribault’s and Menendez.

    More substantially pre 1736-artifact s from the NPS museum collection to come .



    We have definitely found Fort Caroline.

    Google > The Fort at Frederica Albert C Manucy 1962.

    The NPS download shows you the work Shiner did in excavating the fort. They actually found 2 fort’s there as you will see.

    There are 2 wells… the oldest barrel well has wooden barrel hoops just like Spanish built at Fort Santa Elena. The well was filled prior to Oglethorpe’s ‘gaurdhouse’ building there being built atop it. The second well in the parade grounds used tabby from Caroline/Mateo in its casing.

    There are 2 forges. The first is Fort Caroline’s the second that they removed is Fort Frederica’s. Also two sets of Palisades/stockades. Also the two storehouse buildings are completely dissimilar structures etc.

    There is way more evidence in that paper for you … too much to discuss here.

    An architect like yourself should have no difficulty figuring out if I am wrong or right lol!

    • Are you aware that the Spanish built two forts closer to the ocean, when they constructed Fort San Mateo near the ruins of Fort Caroline?



        One was downriver at Gascoignes Bluff and the other was on the southern point of St Simons Island near the lighthouse. The one at the point controlled the 50 foot deep anchorage hole with the hard bottom. Even Bartram used the harbour there for his journeys south. The problem with the Altamaha is that it has a massive shallow sandbar off its mouth and the river is too shallow and winding to navigate easily. That’s why the southern branch of the Altamaha known as St Simons Sound was called the “May River” by none other than Bartram himself in 1774. They built the ship canal at Darien to get their downriver cargo to the port their.

        Check out those barrel wells at Sta. Elena and Fort Caroline/Mateo/ Frederica when you get the time. The British also made barrel wells but NEVER with wooden hooped barrels in the 18th century.


        Almost forgot…

        They turned all 3 of those same locations into missions several years after they where massacred at Fort Mateo when the locals cooled down. It was a great plan to keep control of the island since it was so close to the galleon routes back to Spain. The ocean could be seen from the southern point of St Simons.

        Also they apparently built another mission directly opposite Darien.



    Google > Spanish Artifacts From Santa Elena Stanley South

    The barrel well depicted is a match for the one found in the northeast bastion on Shriners dig at Fort Frederica. The wooden barrel hoops found in both is yet another smoking gun as well as their size. The outer barrel casing of the NE bastion well of Fort Frederica is the comparable. The second well the British built when they filled in Fort St Caroline/Mateo’s well and moved it to the center of the parade grounds is built in a completely different fashion… it probably used tabby bricks from the remains of the northern Spanish/french warehouse in the fort.

    Also try to find the 1980 magnetometer survey performed offshore of Fort Frederica by the NPS. I am reading they found some targets. This is important because as de Laudonnierre was swimming for the three ships offshore the Spanish managed to sink one with the fort’s cannons. My guess is that the Spanish filled the sunken hulk with earth to make another mooring/defensive platform. That would help explain why DeBry’s illustration of the native/french counterattack at Fort Caroline/Mateo a couple of years later shows an island there.

    Way more to come as always lol!



    Le Moyne’s 1591 map which illustrates an island (St Simons) at the mouth of the Altamaha is very interesting. The map clearly shows the original landing site of Laudonniere written in Latin. “Hic appulit” means here it lies the landing site of Laudonniere.

    This places Patica was at Cannon Point and one of Satourionas villages just south of Butler Point closer to Fort Caroline.

    Le Moyne stated that the Spanish landing site was 5 or 6 leagues south of Fort Frederica through the inland channel and 8 by sea. He called it a 2 hour sail. A two hour sail from the Darien area will not get you there.

    Check it out when you get time.

    • The island in the mouth of the Altamaha River is Sapelo Island.


        It can’t be. The island depicted on le Moyne’s 1591 map is on the south bank of the May river. Sapelo Island is north of the Altamaha.

        • Excuse me, I answered before without looking up the passage that you are referring. He was referring to Wolf Island which is slightly moe than a French league in width.


    Just to update… Shiners trench has quite a collection of ceramics that fit the 16th century period. A recent reanalysis shows 30 or more fragments of majolica in addition to period Rhenish salt glaze stoneware. Since there was a Spanish mission near Fort Frederica however anything found could be interpreted as belonging to that occupation rather than Fort’s Caroline/Mateo.

    Also Laudonnierre’s landing site appears to have been on the south side of St Simons Island. Check out the notch in the island on both le Moyne’s 1591 map and on Google maps. Also check out the nautical charts and topographic maps for the area. Turns out that you could walk through the the marsh from your prefered site across Darien all the way to St Simons Island with only one 3 foot deep crossing where the Frederica river meets the Intercoastal channel.


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