Monday, October 15, 2018

Here's the latest update from the excavation at the Mission Nombre de Dios, courtesy of Dr. Kathleen Deagan:


Last week was our first full week of excavation at the Mission/Shrine building site. The weekend before we had two volunteer days, and the Sons of Our Lady along with the Flagler College archaeology students and faculty did an amazing job of helping us remove the 2014 backfill. Thanks!!

Despite nearly two full days of intermittent rain, we now have nearly all of the structure exposed. To everyone’s relief, the footings and tabby floor are in excellent condition. Gifford Waters’ 2014 team had lined everything with heavy plastic before the backfill started, and so even with two hurricanes flooding the site in 2016 and 2017, everything looks intact.  ]

While we were excavating, Prof. Tim Johnson and his students were digging into archival material. They have found plans of Catholic hermitages from the early 18th century that are very similar to our building, suggesting that the structure we are uncovering was a hermitage dedicated to Nuestra Señora de la Leche. Those of you who have read Michael Gannon’s The Cross in the Sand (1965, U. of Florida Press) may remember that he wrote that after the attack of James Moore destroyed the buildings at Mission Nombre de Dios in 1702, the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de la Leche was “patiently rebuilt from coquina rock….The reconstructed chapel ran north and south, 33 by 15 feet, and easily accommodated the forty Christian Indians who could still be found at the pioneer mission."   

The coquina portion of the building we are excavating runs north and south, and measures
approximately 35 feet north to south and 21 feet to west. We strongly suspect that the reconstructed chapel Dr. Gannon wrote about was built on the foundations of the original masonry shrine built in 1677 by Governor de Hita y Salazar - the coquina section of the structure. The rest of the building was built  of tabby, and is currently thought to have been constructed after 1702 as the remainder of the hermitage that served as living quarters for the friars. Time and associated artifact materials will tell.


In 2014 Gifford’s team uncovered a badly-deteriorated section of what looked like a foundation at the very southeast corner of the stone building, extending eastward. It was, of course, the last week of the dig when archaeologists always find the best things. We will turn back to that corner next week to investigate the possibility that it might be related to the 1677 – or even earlier – Chapel and Shrine. Stay tuned!

-Kathy Deagan, 10/15/18

Check back next week for on the dig or search #iDigNombreDeDios for updates from the field on social media!

All Notes from the Trenches at Nombre de Dios:
Week 1
Week 3
Week 4/5



Special thanks to the 2018 field season sponsors.
All text and images by Kathleen Deagan.

One Response so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you all for sharing this discovery and your knowledge about the discovery. I volunteer at the Shrine and am asked many questions
    than can now be answered by this explanation!

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