Santa Elena Fort, one of the first in La Florida, 1576 (today, Parris Island, South Carolina).

Nearly 40 years after finding the remains of the 16th-century town of Santa Elena on present-day Parris Island in Beaufort County, South Carolina, archaeologists have discovered San Marcos, one of five Spanish forts that operated during the town’s 21-year history.

University of South Carolina archaeologist Chester DePratter along with Victor Thompson, an anthropologist from the University of Georgia, have conducted research at Santa Elena since 2014 to find the fort that was founded in 1577 by Pedro Menedez Marquez, the governor of Spanish La Florida.

Chester DePratter (left) and Victor D. Thompson (right) run ground penetrating radar at Santa Elena.

Chester DePratter (left) and Victor D. Thompson (right) run ground penetrating radar at Santa Elena. (University of Georgia)

Their discovery, which will be published this week in the Journal of Archeology Science Reports, sheds new light on the oldest, most northern Spanish settlement in the Americas, built to thwart French exploration into the New World.