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College of Arts & Sciences
Maritime Research Division


Reports of Folly Beach Renourishment Finds Spur MRD Survey

By Nate Fulmer, MRD

     The recent renourishment of the sands on Folly Beach generated a handful of interesting reports from Hobby Divers and beachcombers during the 1st quarter of 2015.  Sourced about 3 1/2 miles offshore, these sands  have offered up a piece of a historic sailing vessel and even a glimpse into the coastal paleolandscape when sea levels were significantly lower and the coast was much further out to sea than today.

      The first report was a brass artifact found on Folly Beach in February. It was brought to us by licensee Sherri Jacobs after she found it a few inches beneath the surface near the Washout. The object measured just under 6 inches long, the diameter is approximately 2.25 inches, and weighs just over 10 pounds. It is fractured on one end. This artifact has been identified as a snapped rudder pintle pin that may date to the 19th century. For comparison, two upturned pintles are shown at top-left and bottom in attached diagram.  A pintle has a pin or bolt, usually inserted into a gudgeon, which is used as part of a pivot or hinge to hold the rudder onto the vessel (diagram top-right). This piece of the pin was most likely deposited on Folly during the recent sand re-nourishment there. We'd like to thank Sherri, her husband Jacob and daughter Annabelle (pictured) for bringing this interesting find to our attention.        In early March, Byan Phillip, a retired dentist in Mount Pleasant, found an Early Archaic corner notched point (pictured) just north of the Folly Beach fishing pier. In response to Dr. Phillip's report - and rumors of other prehistoric artifacts emerging from the new sands on Folly - myself and a team of MRD volunteers (Pictured at top of article: Carl Naylor, Bruce Orr, and Roddy O'Connor) conducted a survey on the beach at low tide on Monday March 16th.  Although we didn't find any Archaic period artifacts during our survey, we did locate plenty of fossils from a variety Pleistocene terrestrial creatures, including a handful of fossilized horse teeth. Alan Shirley from the USACOE met us out there to pinpoint the GPS coordinates of this material and is pulling their logs to provide us with specific offshore source location of the sands in the approximate vicinity of your find.  Dr. Scott Harris from the College of Charleston Geology Department conducted a geophysical survey of that area in 2013 prior to the renourishment, and we hope to pair the Corps location with his data to tell us more about the terrain and geology in the dredge source field. After learning about the Hobby Diver License program, Dr. Phillp promptly applied for and recieved a license. We thank him for bringing this intriguing find to our attention. Reports like this can and do contribute to our understanding of South Carolina's prehistoric past. 

If you or someone you know has found an artifact on Folly recently, we'd love to see a photo and a description of where you found it. Feel free to post a pic on our Facebook page or email us at mrd@sc.edu