After two decades of searching, archaeologists have finally discovered the location of a Spanish fort missing for 450 years: a golf course in South Carolina, the Beaufort Gazette reports. According to the AP, Fort San Marcos—built in 1577 and occupied for five years—was discovered last month under a golf course on Parris Island by two researchers. They used improving technology, included radar and magnetic waves, to succeed where years of old-fashioned hole digging had failed, the Post and Courier reports. While the remains of Fort San Marcos are still buried, the location in itself is a hard-won and important find. “This work will allow us to tell the story of the land that would eventually become the United States,” one of the researchers says.
Fort San Marcos was built more than 100 years before English settlers arrived in what is now South Carolina. Spanish documents give a description and drawing of the fort, but not its location—that was finally given away by the fort's old post holes. Fort San Marcos was built in the settlement of Santa Elena, which was discovered in 1979—nearly 100 years after it was abandoned in the midst of attacks by the English. It consisted of barracks, storerooms, and 11 cannons. Researchers employed the same method used to discover the location of Fort San Marcos to learn a little more about Santa Elena, mapping its shops, taverns, a church, and more. (Read more archaeology stories.)