Marking Time highlights one of the more than 2,500 markers that have been installed throughout the state since 1914 as part of the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program, operated by PHMC's State Historic Preservation Office.

Around 1610 a group of Susquehannocks, an Iroquoian-speaking Native American tribe, established a village perched on a bluff overlooking the Susquehanna River in what is today Lemoyne, Cumberland County. Fast forward to 2007 when archaeologists began excavating that site in advance of a proposed railroad connector project. There they uncovered evidence of the village, including a wooden palisade, a longhouse, and several food storage pits filled with more than 800,000 artifacts — among them glass beads and pieces of incised pottery that help to precisely date the village’s occupation to the years between 1610 and 1624.

The Susquehannocks are among the most researched tribes in Pennsylvania. Historical records suggest that they built a number of villages in the Susquehanna River valley and dominated trade in the region during the 16th and 17th centuries. Until the village at Lemoyne was discovered, much of what archaeologists knew about Susquehannock culture in the Lower Susquehanna River region came from excavations at two other villages from that period, both in Manor Township, Lancaster County: the Schultz and Washington Boro sites. In addition to distinctive glass beads, the iron and brass artifacts found at these sites show that the Susquehannocks were trading with the Dutch in the Delaware Bay region and the English settlement at Jamestown. The village at Lemoyne was also well-positioned to take advantage of trade routes extending to the Seneca Nation in the north and Native American groups in the Ohio River valley to the west.

A sherd of incised pottery, glass beads and a bear effigy are among the artifacts uncovered at the site of the Susquehannock Village at Lemoyne. The State Museum of Pennsylvania

A sherd of incised pottery, glass beads and a bear effigy are among the artifacts uncovered at the site of the Susquehannock Village at Lemoyne.
The State Museum of Pennsylvania

The Lemoyne site is significant for expanding what we know about the Susquehannocks and their settlements outside of Lancaster County. In particular, archaeologists employed more precise methods of investigation at this site, including water screening, or flotation, to recover tiny and microscopic evidence of the plants and animals used by the village’s residents. At the conclusion of the excavation, its artifacts and the field records were graciously donated by the Borough of Lemoyne to PHMC and are now among the collections at The State Museum of Pennsylvania. A detailed discussion of the recoveries from the excavation can be found in Andrew Wyatt’s article, “Reconsidering Early Seventeenth Century A.D. Susquehannock Settlement Patterns: Excavation and Analysis of the Lemoyne Site, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania,” in the 2012 edition of Archaeology of Eastern North America.

The Pennsylvania Historical Marker for the Susquehannock Village at Lemoyne was approved in 2020, but the official dedication was delayed until June of this year to accommodate concerns about public gatherings during the pandemic. It stands at the east end of Herman Avenue at the entrance to the borough’s Memorial Park.


Bryan Van Sweden is a community preservation coordinator for the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office. He has worked for PHMC since 1992 and is temporarily helping to manage the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program. Karen Galle, who previously wrote this department, retired recently as the marker program’s longtime and successful coordinator.