THE TOWN PLAN OF SIXTEENTH CENTURY ST. AUGUSTINE:
THE ARCHEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
Florida State University
Project report submitted to the St. Augustine
Restoration Foundation, Inc.
Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board
1 8 EC.
map, separated from the rest of the town at the northwest periphery (Figure
3). If all of the Trinity site wells were "late" 16th century (a
questionable but not impossible premise), Hoffman's interpretation may
indeed be correct. The closest early 16th century deposits in that event
would be the Public Library site trash pits, which is not inconsistent
with the "small town" hypothesis.
Summary of Evidence
The "large town" Hypotnesis A was tested through three test im-
plications. The first was that a roadway should be present at roughly
50 feet east of St. George Street. This was not negated, since several
lineally aligned deposits which could have been road deposits were lo-
cated. Neither was it strongly supported, because we have no confirmed
model against which to identify a road.
The second implication was that 16th century material should be
present to the north of Artillery Lane. Excavations here again did not
either reject or support this implication. Proveniences were found which
contained El Morro ware and Mexican Red filmed ware, which occur from the
16th to the 18th centuries in St. Augustine. No materials diagnostic of,
or dating consistently to, the 16th century were recovered, however.
The third implication was that material dating to the 16th cen-
tury should be present to the south of Bridge Street. This implication
could not be tested during the 1981 season because of the extreme com-
plexity of the other sites excavated which consumed all of the available
Burials located during the 1979 season at SA-28-1 (the Spanish
military hospital) indicated that prior to 1598, the sections of Aviles
and Charlotte Streets north of the northern extension of Artillery Lane
were the site of Christian burials. The burials, as evidenced by earlier
construction work in the area, extended from Aviles Street east to
Charlotte Street. The two intact skulls located in the 1979 season both
faced the east. Since Catholic burials (particularly medieval ones) were
buried with their faces oriented toward the church altar (see Koch 1980
for a discussion of this), it is suggested that the 16th century church
was in the vicinity of present-day Potter's Wax Museum. Unfortunately,
no evidence in the 1979 excavations was found to suggest whether the
burials were inside or outside of the church, and the street burials were
not recorded in a manner to make this determination possible. The 1979
burial was that of an Indian woman, however, and may not (for status re-
lated reasons) have been located inside the church for burial.
The "small town" hypothesis, Hypothesis B, was tested through two
test implications. The first of these was that Bravo Lane should have
extended toward the west, cutting through the present Block 35. The
presence of an "early" 16th century well in the expected location of the
road extension negated this test implication. If the well was a "late"
16th century feature (an assumption not supported directly by the arti-
fact assemblage), it could be suggested that the well obliterated an
earlier road area.
The second test implication for the "small town" hypothesis was
that a roadway should be present at some 88 feet to the west of Aviles
Street. A deposit in the Public Library site was located at this posi-
tion, which could have been a road. This evidence is weak, however, due
to the absence of a reliable road model, and also to the fact that
corroborating evidence was absent in the SA-34-2 excavations some 50
feet south of the Library test trench (King and Gaske 1981).
Charlotte Street was hypothesized as being present during the
16th century only if the "small town" hypothesis was correct. Evidence
to date can support only that Charlotte Street was present after the
"late" 16th century (although it cannot reject its existence during the
early 16th century).
Given the available pieces of evidence and their respective
strengths, the "large town" hypothesis (Hypothesis A) is the most strong-
ly supported. The most tangible (although admittedly amorphous) evidence
for a roadway was located at the predicted position in SP-34-l, and no
negative evidence was located to the north of Artillery Lane. Certainly
additional data from north of Artillery Lane and south of Bridge Street
will be necessary to strengthen this assessment. The presence of "early"
16th century contexts along present-day St. George Street is consistent
with the "large town" hypothesis, and inconsistent with the "small town"
hypothesis. This is also true of the fact that no evidence could be
verified that would place Charlotte Street in the "early" 16th century
(nor could any be verified which definitely placed it only in the "l'te"
A major problem in these interpretations is in distinguishing
"early" from "late" contexts. Two ceramic types are flimsy bases upon
which to construct such distinctions. A very important aid in this pro-
cess will be the assessment of the material assemblage of Santa Elena,
South Carolina, (presently being excavated by Stanley South). That site
was abandoned in the year that the "late" 16th century is presumed to have
begun in St. Augustine, and thus the assemblage from Santa Elena should
provide a guideline for the distinction between "early" and "late" pro-
veniences. (These guidelines, however, should be based on a whole site
sample of more than 1,000 sherds, since this has been the basis for
assemblage depiction in St. Augustine.)
A final possibility should be noted about the settlement data.
Once the guidelines noted above are available, the proposition that both
the "small town" and "large town" hypotheses are correct, and that the
"large town" was established following the influx of settlers from Santa
Elena can be tested. This would be predicated upon the possibility that
the Trinity site wells along St. George Street are a late 16th century
feature, a proposition that cannot currently be supported by majolica
data. If this were the case, however, we could suggest that the Palm
Row wells are the separate, anomalous lot in that location on the Boazio
map, and that these were destroyed in the 1586 raid by Drake. (This is
not inconsistent with the fill of the wells, which was primarily burned
house posts and wattle and daub fragments.) A road was then built in the
location indicated on the Trinity site, and structures would have been
located to the west of this road along the eastern portion of Palm Row.
The Trinity wells presently along St. George Street could have been
associated with such later structures, if they are "late" 16th century.
A Final Note--The 1784 Rocque Map
Mariano de la Rocque, noted by St. Augustine historians as one
of the most precise and reliable cartographers to have been in the colony,
prepared a map in 1784 which bears an interesting coincidence to the cur-
rent project. This map was not located until the final stages of this
AcHaRLO TE SVTRE I LESV STR EET
MAR NE STREET ---
srY LOCATION OF
-E E1T 16th CENTURY TEST SITES
ST. AUGUSTINE FLORIDA