For those of us with gold pans and that live in the area (150 miles)...... Where are you talking about
US 221 between Marion & Rutherfordton.
This is one of the places. There’s also a campground north of there where folks live & pan in the warmer weather.
I've been acquainted with David Moore, the archaeologist on this project, for 30 years.
The story I heard from him was that local lore told that a fort used to be in the area but no one knew exactly where. The Berry family bought the land for farming and discovered some European origin artifacts in the fields decades ago. The younger generation of that family are the ones who narrowed down a possible location for the fort and allowed access for the archaeologists to got it to where it is today.