Map of NC counties in Inner Coastal Plain
Map of North Carolina counties showing the Inner Coastal Plain region. This area includes the following counties: Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, Edgecombe, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, Northampton, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Wayne, and Wilson. (Image by NC Office of State Archaeology, 2022)


The Inner Coastal Plain consists of the area between the Tidewater and the fall line marking the edge of the Piedmont. This area is filled with low-lying areas and slow, winding rivers. Higher than the rest of the Coastal Plain, the inner region has a rolling environment, including the sandy hills of the southeast. Archaeological sites in the Inner Coastal Plain range from plantations and homesteads to historic cemeteries, battlefields, and pre-contact occupation sites.

While facing similar climate threats as the Outer Coastal Plain, their impacts differ because of the distance from the ocean. For example, sites along waterways in the Inner Coastal Plain will experience the effects of sea level rise and changes in ocean properties. But as these sites are further inland, the impact of these changes will be less severe than those of other climate threats. Sites along riverbanks of the Inner Coastal Plain are more impacted by changes in upriver precipitation. Increased rainfall in the west leads to overflows downriver that erode riverbank sites and flood nearby sites.

There are also many archaeological sites on the Inner Coastal Plain that are not on riverways or in floodplains. These sites are further inland and face threats from changes in temperature, precipitation, and extreme weather events. The combination of changes in temperature and precipitation encourages new and expanded plant growth on archaeological sites. For example, at both Aycock Birthplace and Halifax State Historic Sites, the increased humidity and temperature have facilitated the growth of moss and other plants on the stone structures.

Headstone from the cemetery at the Charles B. Aycock Birthplace in Fremont
Headstone from the cemetery at the Charles B. Aycock Birthplace in Fremont. The headstone shows signs of deterioration that are associated with increased temperature and precipitation that facilitates biological growth and chemical erosion of the stone. (Image by NC Office of State Archaeology, 2021)

Increased rainfall and extreme weather events can cause lands in interior locations to become saturated with water. This saturation leads to water pooling on archaeological sites. Continual pooling can contribute to a change in environmental conditions that may result in the degradation or corrosion of archaeological site materials. For example, at Halifax State Historic Site, water pools in Magazine Spring, filling it with mud and sediments. This changes the environment of the site and leads to different decay processes. These heavy rains and extreme weather events also bring along heavy winds that topple trees and affect exposed site elements.

The magazine at Halifax State Historic Site in Halifax. The magazine fills with water and eroded sediments during heavy rains
The magazine at Halifax State Historic Site in Halifax in 2019 before sediment removal and after removal in 2021. The magazine fills with water and eroded sediments during heavy rains. Increased precipitation and temperature also support plant growth on the magazine walls and floor. (Images by NC Office of State Archaeology, 2019 and 2021)


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This material was produced with assistance from the Emergency Supplemental Historic Preservation Fund, administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.