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College of Arts & Sciences
Maritime Research Division


Satellite imagery of Port Royal Sound

Port Royal Sound

The Port Royal Sound Survey is an ongoing project for the Maritime Research Division. The objective of the survey is to record submerged cultural resources such as shipwrecks, abandoned vessels, landings, and other sites to the State Archaeological Site Inventory. The results of the survey assist the MRD in the management of these resources and in the development of research projects. The project was originially funded in 1997 by a National Park Service Historic Preservation Survey and Planning Grant administered by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Since conclusion of the NPS grant, the survey has relied on private funding from the Archaeological Research Trust, the R.L. Stephenson Archaeological Research Trust, and the Underwater Archaeology Research Fund to continue the project. A Department of Defence Legacy Management Program grant administered by the Naval Historical Center also provided funds to survey the sound for submerged components related to the American Civil War. Additional private funding from individuals and organizations has also aided in project investigations.

Besides conducting general archaeological prospecting throughout the sound region, the project also focused in on specific search areas that included the Le Prince search and Callawassie Island.

The Le Prince was a 16th century French vessel that wrecked on the shoals at the entrance to Port Royal Sound in 1577. Since 1998, the MRD has launched historical research forays in the archives in France and Spain as well as intensive marine remote sensing operations of the area to locate the physical remains of the shipwreck.  The location of the vessel still remains a mystery.

The objective of the Callawassie Island survey was to document intertidal and submerged cultural resources along the waterways and shores around the island. Remote sensing operations began in the summer of 2004 and concluded with ground-truthing operations in summer of 2005 to visually identify the source of magnetic and acoutic anomalies recorded during the initial survey. This survey was partially funded by the Callawassie Island Stewards, Inc., an affiliate of the homeowner's association of the island. 

Related Information

2005. Spirek, James. "Port Royal Sound Survey: Result From the 2003 Field Season." Legacy. Vol. 9, No. 1 & 2. March. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina. pp. 25-28.

2003. Spirek, James. "Le Prince Search Continues in Spain and in Port Royal Sound." Legacy. Vol. 8, No. 1. July. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina. pp. 10-12.

2001. Spirek, James. "Port Royal Sound Survey: Search Begins for Le Prince." Legacy. Vol. 6, No. 2. December. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina. pp. 28-30.

2001. Spirek, James. "Le Prince Research Project: Searching the Archivo General de Indias." Legacy. Vol. 6, No. 1. July. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina. pp. 18-19.

2000. Spirek, James. "Storming Normandy: A Recovery Mission to the French Archives of Rouen and Caen." Legacy. Vol. 5, No. 3. December. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina. pp. 14-15.

1999. Spirek, James, Amer, Christopher F., Beatty Joseph, Harris, Lynn, Naylor, Carleton, and Von Harten, Laura. "The Port Royal Sound Survey, Phase One: Preliminary Investigations of Intertidal and Submerged Cultural Resources in Port Royal Sound, Beaufort County, South Carolina." South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Columbia, South Carolina.

1998. Spirek, James. "A Search for Le Prince: Underwater Archaeological Prospecting in the French Archives." Legacy. Vol. 3, No. 3. December. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina. pp. 24-25.

1998. Spirek, James. "The Fort Frederick Barrell Well." Legacy. Vol. 3, No. 2. July. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina. pp. 24-25.

1997. Spirek, James & Amer, Christopher F. "SCIAA's Underwater Archaeology Division Completes First Phase of the Port Royal Sound Survey." Legacy. Vol. 2, No. 3. December. South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. University of South Carolina. Columbia, South Carolina. pp. 10-13.