The Berry site is a large Native American town that was occupied from about A.D. 1400-1600. Archaeologists have identified the site as the town of Joara, which was visited by the Hernando de Soto expedition in 1540 and the Juan Pardo expedition in 1567. In 1566, Captain Juan Pardo and his army departed Santa Elena (on modern-day Parris Island, South Carolina) to claim the interior of southeastern North America for Spain. Pardo built Fort San Juan at the native town of Joara in 1567, making it the earliest European settlement in the interior of what is now the United States.
Spanish soldiers lived at Fort San Juan from January 1567 until about the spring of 1568. In June, relations between the Spaniards and the native peoples of Joara ended tumultuously, and the fort was burned and destroyed.
The Native American settlements visited by de Soto and Pardo and the forts built by Pardo are national and international treasures. They are witnesses to American and world history. They cannot be replaced. Help the Exploring Joara Foundation to unearth the forgotten past by becoming a member or donating today!
Archaeological fieldwork is conducted annually at the Berry site in Morganton, NC. The Exploring Joara Foundation partners with researchers at the Berry site to offer summer camps and other educational opportunities to the public.