The Bernath site (8SR986) is located directly east of UWF across the Escambia Bay in Santa Rosa county. It consists of a single component Middle Woodland Santa Rosa-Swift Creek site with radiocarbon dates ranging from A.D.670 ±60 to A.D.350 ±50, as well as a post-Civil War farmstead on the property. The Bernath farmhouse and outbuildings date from the late 1880s and early 1900s.
Four archaeological investigations of the prehistoric component at Bernath have been conducted by UWF and the Archaeology Institute. A survey was conducted in 1991 to determine the site's boundaries and cultural components. Two archaeological field schools were conducted in the summers of 1992 & 1994 and students endured the cold, wet weather from December 1993 to January 1994 while doing extracurricular excavations.
All of the field school classes operate within the Anthropology Department, but the Archaeology Institute is involved in practically all facets of the archaeology program at UWF. The Archaeology Institute supplied all of the field tools (shovels, field screens, wheel barrows, water hoses and screens, transits, cameras & other survey/documentary tools) and provided storage facilities for the recovered materials. The archaeology field school and the Archaeology Institute at UWF provide students with opportunities for hands-on archaeological investigations. The work at Bernath was unique in that there are not many single component Santa Rosa-Swift Creek sites to be excavated. Graduate students were given a chance to learn more about lab analysis and supervisory work in the field and lab during and after the Bernath excavations.
Santa Rosa - Swift Creek in Northwest Florida by Dr. Bense provides an overview of the Bernath prehistoric cultural period.