- The Washington Times - Monday, November 18, 2002

SPOTSYVLVANIA, Va. (AP) Archaeologists excavating the site where the old Spotsylvania Courthouse once stood have found a bayonet, animal bones and pieces of brightly painted ceramic bowls dating back to the late 1770s.
Three hundred cultural relics have been discovered at the site, including posts, structural remains and refuse pits.
Officials say the items will be cleaned and analyzed before being given to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. But the site soon will be gone to make way for construction of the state Route 208 bypass.
"It's going to run right over it," said Spotsylvania resident and local historian George Bond.
The site, which was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places but never nominated, was chosen for the Spotsylvania courthouse and jail in 1778, when officials wanted to move the facility out of Fredericksburg and closer to the center of the county.
The courthouse was built on the eastern side of Block House Road, and the clerk's office and jail were built on the west side.
The first session of court was held in 1781. Ten years later, the jail was burned down by an escaped convict and was rebuilt across the street, Mr. Bond said.
The courthouse remained in use until 1838, when it was moved to its present location in Spotsylvania.
The Virginia Department of Transportation identified the remnants of the old courthouse during an archaeological survey in 1995, and officials returned in 2000 for a site evaluation.
Construction is expected to begin on the $26 million bypass once the federally ordered excavation is complete.
Authorities say the road should be open by 2007.
Mr. Bond said he at least would like to see historic signs erected to commemorate the spot. "But I'm a screwball; I hate to lose any history," he said.


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