Even the ground under our feet has stories to reveal

The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum sits atop a treasure trove of artifacts stretching back centuries. Famous archaeologists such as Kathy Deagan of the University of Florida and St. Augustine City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt have led more than 15 digs to investigate who lived here long ago and find clues to how they lived. For example, discoveries from the boarding house period have helped historians interpret this long-forgotten era. We look forward to more important findings from future digs at the site.

Key archaeological finds

#1. Caravaca Cross

Caravaca Cross

An intricate white bronze double-barred cross discovered during a 2002 dig dates to 17th century Spain. It appears to have been lost on the property, and may be the only example of this valuable historical curiosity to have been found in North America.

#2. Antique china

Antique China

The colorful “Bandana” china displayed in the dining room is from a pattern that belonged to owner Sarah Petty Anderson. Shards found during a dig helped identify it. The Dames subsequently tracked down place settings of this beautiful and long-discontinued pattern.

#3. Silver button

Silver Button

In 1990, a large cache of pins and buttons was discovered beneath a foundation that was probably a laundry shed. One rare silver button may be even more valuable than the Caravaca Cross.

#4. Pre-Columbian artifacts


An ancient Timucuan settlement predates the House by thousands of years. Archaeologists from the University of Florida have excavated tens of thousands of artifacts from this indigenous pre-Columbian civilization on the property.

XF DIG 450

IMG_3273IMG_3079Digging History!

Last week began our biggest event of 2015! We kicked off with an invitation only garden party, hosted by the NSCDA-FL and attended by St Augustine’s mayor, various city officials, historians and members of the Aviles Street Merchants Association. Since the first ceremonial shovel of dirt, our archaeologists have set about their tasks of digging, sifting, sorting and collecting data.

Veteran Archeologist, Carl Halbirt has returned to the helm as he guides his crew of volunteers through layers of dirt to uncover St Augustine’s colonial history. Carl is very familiar with the Ximenez-Fatio house as he led the dig that produced our now famous, Caravaca Cross. The purpose of the excavation is twofold, both to discover more about our historic property (and thus by extension the City’s history) and to give the public a chance to get up close to archaeology as it happens. In an interview with Jacksonville’s First Coast News, Carl tells us that-

“When people come to St. Augustine, they only see what’s above the ground. They don’t see whats below the ground, yet most of St Augustine’s history is below the ground”

No one knows this better than Carl, who has uncovered many of our historic sites, including one of the original wooden Forts built by the Spanish prior to the Castillo de San Marcos. So far the dig has brought over 1200 people through our gates and we expect an increase in the weeks ahead, especially as we move toward spring break. Even though we have just broken through the first layers of earth (and an old driveway) already we have recovered some very interesting pieces, including a 19th century blue glass “raspberry bead,” part of a bone knife handle, and an early bullet, as well as a host of pottery shards, nails and glass pieces.

We were very excited to be featured by local news channels and you can see the features here:

CBS News WJAX 47

NBC First Coast News 12



As always, we encourage you to follow up to date photographs and news from the dig as it happens so look for the #XFDIG450 hashtag on Facebook.

The dig continues through March 14th, and is open Tuesday – Saturday from 11am until 3pm. For more information, contact Julia Vaill Gatlin, Executive Director at 904-829-3575 or email

See you at the Dig!