The St. Albans site, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, contained some of the most important archeological deposits yet discovered in the eastern United States. Identified in 1963 by Samuel D. Kessell, the site was recognized when artifacts were found on the eroded bank of the Kanawha River at St. Albans. Exploratory investigations indicated that cultural deposits extended to a depth of perhaps 35 feet below the surface. Extensive excavations were conducted by the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey in 1964–66, and again in 1968. Archeologists from Marshall University, Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc., and colleges in Michigan and North Carolina conducted smaller-scale excavations in the 1990s.
The importance of the site was based on a sequence of stratified Archaic occupation periods, recognized primarily by projectile points, knives, scrapers, drills, and adzes made of flint, and larger implements including hammerstones and anvils made from river cobbles. Hearths and other types of thermal features were possibly used for processing food. The density and distribution of remains suggest the occupations represent seasonal camps of highly mobile hunter-gatherer bands.
Because the stratified occupations contained hearths with charcoal, it was possible to date them and their associated artifacts. Thus, for the first time archeologists were able to establish relatively precise ages for the Charleston Corner Notched, Kessell Side Notched, Mac-Corkle Stemmed, St. Albans Side Notched, LeCroy Bifurcated Base, and Kanawha Stemmed projectile point types, and obtain better information for the age of the poorly dated Kirk Corner Notched point type. The suite of radiocarbon dates available for the site indicates a period of Early Archaic occupation spanning from approximately 8000 to 6000 B.C. Earlier occupations might be present in more deeply buried deposits.
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This Article was written by C. Michael Anslinger
Last Revised on January 19, 2017
Brashler, Janet G., et al. "Recent Research at the St. Albans Site," in William S. Dancey, ed, The First Discovery of America. : Ohio Archaeological Council, 1994.
Broyles, Bettye J. Preliminary Report: The St. Albans Site, Kanawha County, West Virginia. West Virginia Archeologist, (Fall 1966).
"Second Preliminary Report: The St. Albans Site, Kanawha County, West Virginia." Archaeological Investigation 3. West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey, 1971.
Cite This Article
Anslinger, C. Michael "St. Albans Archeological Site." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 19 January 2017. Web. 23 February 2017.