Proposed Background Story for the 16th Century Portion of the Spanish Quarter


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Proposed Background Story for the 16th Century Portion of the Spanish Quarter
Series Title:
Archaeological Files for Aviles Street
Physical Description:
Mixed Material
Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program
Physical Location:
Folder: Research, Prior excavations


General Note:
BDAC # 10-3000

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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Proposed Background Story

for the 16th Century Portion of the Spanish Quarter



This is an official product of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, Inc. TM It may not be reproduced in whole or
part without advance, written permission of the Chief Administrative Director of LAMP, Inc.

Proposed Background Story for the 16th Century Portion of the Spanish Quarter

By Sam Turner, Ph.D.


It has been proposed to set the new 16th century segment of the Spanish Quarter up for an August opening. This calls for a quick execution of interpretation and site set up. At this time Sam Turner is preparing exhibit content suitable for the new interpretive center that is being planned on San Marco. The story line below is proposed as the first phase of the caravel project and serves to introduce a chronologically ordered story line that leads up to the astillero and building of the caravel.

Story Line:

This particular portion of ground was first settled by Francisco Camacho who arrived with Pedro Men6ndez as a soldier. He was a native of San L6car de Barrameda at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, where he learned how to fish. He married Teresa, a local Indian girl. A woman Catalina and her son Juan also resided with them. These most likely were relations of Teresa (Manucy, 1997:76). This information is derived from garrison records which document Francisco as a soldier and fisherman. This means that as a soldier he was on the presidio's payroll and so had some income in addition to his fishing sales.

For the purposes of our story he begins by building a small thatched house with windows. The windows may be shut with wooden shutters. Since he is a fisherman he has a canoe (supplied by the Spanish Quarter). Since this is his dwelling, he also builds a barrel well from which his family obtains all its drinking, bathing, washing, and irrigation water.

Francisco's family has a kitchen garden enclosed by a wattle work fence to keep out deer, chickens, and any other hungry animals that might eat the fruit of their labors. They build a separate kitchen for cooking out of the house especially in the summer. Francisco also has a smokehouse where he smokes his catch for the local market.

Francisco engages in building withy hurdles for fishing in the creeks of the Maria Sanchez creek and San Sebastian River and the numerous other tributaries of the Matanzas River. He also spends time making cordage and line for producing fish nets that he uses in the vicinity of the inlet. He builds a rack on his property to hang and dry his nets.

Desiring a more European craft, he engages a local sawyer to saw a number of logs that were floated to his lot from timberlands bordering the Matanzas River. These will be planked with a pit saw to provide building material for one or more barca chatas.

This is proposed as the first phase of the 16th century maritime landscape that will become the astillero where the caravel will be built.


Develop period clothing and personas.

Orient the lot to the sea and determine footprint of structures. Discuss these with Carl
Halbirt for potential impacts to archaeology.

Obtain three barrels for a barrel well.

Dig well.

Acquire timber for buildings and sawpit. Discussions are underway with a local
landowner for permission to cut young trees and saplings for building and wattle work.

Build buildings as ongoing historical reenactment.

Obtain necessary saw palmetto and thatch all buildings.

Obtain pine or Cyprus logs suitable for the pit saw.

Obtain block and tackle to hoist logs onto pit saw. Determine best placement of the saw
with relation to current trees.

Produce lots of cordage from saw palmetto for making fishing nets.

Make fishing nets.

Obtain some ceramics and other period household objects.

The timeline and order of acquisition and installation may vary given availability of material and labor.

First Spanish Period Archival Research

Analysis of Sixteenth Century Maps of St. Augustine
After moving for a brief period to Anastasia Island, the settlement of St. Augustine reverted back to the mainland, to the site of present-day downtown south of the original settlement site at Seloy (present-day Fountain of Youth Park). This settlement was established with streets and a plaza in 1572 (Gordon 2002:59) It grew until the year 1586 when the town was taken and burned to the ground by Francis Drake and the men of his fleet.

An Italian map maker and artist named of Baptista Boazio, who may have sailed with Drake's fleet, worked from drawings and sketches provided by expedition participants to produce the earliest known surviving map of St. Augustine. Published in 1589, the Boazio Map provides a good deal of information about the town, a number of which illuminate maritime activities in St. Augustine from the 16th century (Figure 9).

Upon Drake's approach, Spanish guards in the watchtower "at first signaled the fort of the approach of one friendly vessel, but upon seeing more ships they sent a hasty warning signal .. they then hurriedly paddled for the fort in a small canoe" (Convington 1965:86).

For their part, Drake reports that on "the eight and twentieth of May, early in the morning, we decried on the shore a place built like a beacon, which was indeed a scaffold upon four long masts, raised on end for men to discover the seaward, being in the latitude of thirty degrees, or very near there unto" (Biggs 1589:30).

The Boazio map features the watchtower and shows that there was also an associated structure, most likely housing for those on lookout duty. The depiction on the Boazio map shows a tower with four posts and a square box on top. The drawing suggests a relatively flat roof, likely thatched with palm fronds (Figure 273).

The English fleet anchored off the bar and sent in small boats and pinnaces loaded with troops, landing them on the shore of Anastasia Island along the southern margin of the inlet. A number of artillery pieces were landed on the same margin and placed further to the west and were able to open fire on the fort of San Juan del Pinillo before the fall of darkness that same day.

Detail was a highlight of Boazio's cartography. On occasion however, the artist changed his prospective in order to better depict certain details. Thus the canvas was rotated 90 degrees to show the landing of troops from a northern prospective. Changing the prospective permits a more accurate and intelligible rendering of certain features or events being illustrated (Figure 274).

In the water alongside the fort is a small Spanish craft "lying hard by their fort" and under the protection of its guns. The craft is described by Boazio as a pinnace, a name applied to a variety of English made small craft. On shore directly behind the anchored craft are a couple of buildings and an elevated covered area supported by five pairs of tall poles. This structure may well be a boat shed (Figure 275). A similar structure is shown in the following photograph taken in Bahia, Brazil in the late 1980s during the building of the Sarsfield caravel replica built for the 500th anniversary of the Columbus's voyage of discovery in 1992. The simplicity of the structure is only matched by its utility in keeping the sun off both carpenters and craft during building, maintenance work or storage (Figure 276).


Figure 273. Detail of the watchtower from the Boazio map 1589

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Figure 274. Landing of Drake's troops on Anastasia Island, 1589 Boazio map.



Figure 275. Moored Spanish vessel called a pinnace by Drake's men, and a possible boat shed.

Figure 276. Brazilian boat shed used to construct a replica caravel. Courtesy of Morgan Sanger.

The structure would normally be oriented 90 degrees to that shown so that a craft could be launched directly into the river. However, the artist can more easily render it accurately when shown in this prospective. This is perhaps another example of the artist changing prospective in order to convey a clearer picture of a feature being illustrated. Adjacent buildings, apparently shaded by trees, may have been the dwellings of boat carpenters, fisherman, or mariners attached to the presidio. They may also have served as storage for ship and boat equipment such as sails, yards, oars, anchors, and line. Clearly, whether the tall structure is a boathouse or not, the structures near the foreshore in conjunction with the anchored craft suggest that this is a maritime activity area associated with the presidio north of 395

town. This area likely serving as a landing where supplies requisitioned from the King's Factor were brought from the warehouse in town, as well as serving as the point of departure for trips to town and the surrounding environs.

Another part of the waterfront is depicted further to the south directly in front of the town. The town is divided into eleven blocks of buildings to the south of the rudimentary Plaza. At the east end of what would be the principal east-west street of the town lies the waterfront. Clearly depicted on the beach is a small boat hauled out and apparently resting on four timbers, or chocks, most likely used to launch and recover the craft (Figure 277).


Figure 277. Detail from the Boazio map of the town landing, with a boat hauled up on chocks.

This timeless manner of launching and recovering beached craft is probably as old as boats themselves. The method is still practiced in Malaga, Spain today where substantial and heavy craft are launched and recovered from the beach utilizing chocks of wood that are splashed with a mixture of recycled or waste olive oil and water just before use to ease friction between the keel and the chocks (Figures 278 and 279). Like the boatshed described above, the artist has likely rotated the craft and timbers 90 degrees in order to make clear to the viewer what they are looking at. This area was likely a principal landing for the town and likely was witness to moderate to heavy marine traffic (Figure 277).

There are additional details regarding maritime activity and infrastructure in the Boazio map. Across from the town of St. Augustine on Anastasia Island are two features shown along the shoreline in the water. The artist is clearly trying to depict something in the water (Figure 280). Near these is depicted the principal landing of Drake's men and the taking of St. Augustine. Accompanying the landing boats is a sailing vessel that was likely used to provide covering artillery fire during the landing. Such an operation would best be undertaken at high tide when the currents were still and there was as much water depth as possible for all craft but especially vessels underway in a confined waterway such as the Matanzas River directly in front of town.


1 igure 278. Traditional alaga craft resting on two chocks.

I igure 279. Landing a boat with first chock in position.

This is an important point with regard to the structures shown along Anastasia Island. These are shown as in the water and depicted with the same colors and similar line thickness as the water is, as if they were part of the bay. It seems likely that what are depicted in these two cases are submerged features, specifically, timber hards used for beaching and launching craft at low tide. Unlike the sandy beach waterfront in front of town or the fort, exposed to strong northeasterly seas and storms, the western shoreline of Anastasia is sheltered from and therefore has a heavier load of fine sediments. The accumulation of these marine sediment forms thick mud deposits that can severely hamper the landing and launching of boats, especially if loading or unloading supplies or cargo of any kind.

The Tolomato Bar Anchorage site (SJ4801), several miles up the Tolomato River and during the British and Second Spanish Periods, contains archaeological evidence for just such timber hards in the same


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Figure 280. Two probable hards on Anastasia Island, as shown on the Boazio map.

sort of sheltered estuary environment as the west side on Anastasia Island (Figure 280). It seems likely that the method used by the British to make soft land hard would have been the same as that used by earlier colonists attempting to build maritime infrastructure in the same muddy estuarine setting with abundant timber resources. Such timber hards, like chalks, may have been lubricated with some oil or lard mix to reduce friction during launch and recovery when necessary.

When one observes the location of these two landings relative to the opposite town landing across the river one notices that they fall to either side of it. The town landing is therefore centrally located in relation to the landings on Anastasia Island. This may well be the result of having to deal with strong tidal currents that prevail in the vicinity of this inlet. A craft traveling from town to Anastasia Island on an incoming tide would likely row against the current and land on the southern timber hard. If crossing on an outgoing tide, the northern landing might have been more suitable. It is also likely that people took into consideration the anticipated state of the tide when returning to town. If leaving town at slack high tide and expecting to return on a strong outgoing tide, they may have preferred the southern landing. It seems very likely that craft would have also traveled between these two landings and the presidio, again, taking the state of the tide into consideration in determining where to hug the shoreline where the current was less powerful, and where to strike out across the channel where water flow was at its maximum.

Careful study of the Boazio map has revealed a system of landings that connect the town, presidio, and Anastasia Island, as well as providing some insight into how craft were launched and recovered with wooden timbers or chocks. The map also shows what may be the location and layout of the boat yard, including associated structures that served the town. Taken together, the map details the principal Spanish transportation routes, marine infrastructure, and disposition of craft both on shore and at anchor at the time of Drake's raid in 1586.


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Figure 281. Timber hard at the Tolomato Bar Anchorage site (SJ4801).

Upon departure, Drake and his men cut down the orchards and burned the town to the ground, in an attempt to eliminate its threat to the nascent English colony at Roanoke. In their wake they left an impoverished and starving Spanish population which had to begin all over again.

The next map of St. Augustine is known as the Hernando Mestas map and dates from 1593, only seven years after Drake's devastating raid. It is more of a conceptual map showing a number of principal buildings in detail, the new fort, and contains annotations regarding distances between certain features on and off the map. One of its primary values is that it depicts how Spanish interests in St. Augustine rebuilt a number of the town's defensive features as countermeasures to Drake's attack (Figure 281).

The principal and most obvious of these is a hardened waterfront. A defensive palisade ran along its entire length from the outer wall of the fort up to and beyond the town itself. The beachfront to the north of town where Drake and his men had landed and waded ashore in 1586 was completely blocked by the new defensive palisade.

Where the town's central landing was located, a wooden pier was built with a small fortified guardhouse or blockhouse just to its south (Figure 282). This blockhouse housed a garrison and had a bell to sound an alarm when necessary. It contained at least five or so cannon that gave direct covering fire for the pier making it impassable to an invading enemy while protecting any craft that might be tied there. Numerous craft are shown tied to the pier and at least one is tied off ashore indicating that the foreshore was still used by watercraft.


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Figure 283. Detail of the 1593 Mestas map showing a fortified blockhouse, a pier, a sailing vessel
and small craft, and a possible live well built under the pier (Manucy 1997).

The small craft either appear to be canoes or barca chatas, a small vernacular flatboat that has been documented in St. Augustine for this period (Fleetwood 1995:19). A larger craft, with a raised quarter deck and forward bulwarks supporting a bowsprit indicates a vessel that was fitted with a sailing rig apparently omitted for clarity and to avoid confusing the drawing of the guardhouse (Figure 283). It is also likely the craft represents a fagata or bergantin. Both of these craft are well-documented for the period and both sailed and rowed for maximum maneuverability and speed.

The drawing of the pier is very detailed showing diagonal cross bracing between pilings along the south side of the pier and horizontal cross bracing along its front as well as a lighter timbered structure added to the pier's north side (the right side of the pier in the figure above). This structure may represent a lightly built live well for which there is a probable archaeological parallel at the Tolomato Bar Anchorage site, possibly from the Second Spanish Period (Figure 283) (Morris et al. 2006:38-39). Such a live well, properly caulked and maintained, would retain water during periods of low tide but refresh with fresh water during high tides. This suggests the obvious likelihood of a local fishing industry. Having lived with and learned from Native Americans who were very reliant on fishing and mollusks, and having a long and ancient fishing tradition from their native Spain, the residents of St. Augustine no doubt took advantage of these rich resources as well.

The governor's house was apparently located just a short distance inland from the pier giving him close proximity to the town's principal defenses for enhanced command and control in the event of an emergency. A second story balcony on the east side of the house afforded the Governor a clear view of


the entire waterfront, pier, blockhouse, and the larger fort to the north. The watchtower on Anastasia Island would also have been clearly visible.