LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Hatfield and McCoy descendants came armed – with digging tools. Side by side, they worked together to help archaeologists unearth artifacts from one of the bloodiest sites in America’s most famous feud.

The leader of the dig says they have pinpointed the place where Randolph McCoy’s home was set ablaze in the woods of eastern Kentucky during a murderous New Year’s attack by the Hatfield clan.

Two McCoys were gunned down in the 1888 ambush on Randolph McCoy’s homestead. It marked a turning point in their cross-border war waged in Kentucky and West Virginia, led by family patriarchs William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield and Randolph “Ole Ran’l” McCoy.

The 10-day excavation focused on a back corner of the homestead. Archaeologists and volunteers – including descendants from the two families – uncovered charred timber, shell casings, nails, a pulley and fragments of glass and ceramics.

Eddie McCoy had made earlier pilgrimages there, but he said sifting through his ancestral soil was especially poignant.

“When I was digging through the mud and big chunks of burned wood started coming out, it just made it so real,” he said this week. “I had to actually pause for a moment. I just could not believe I was being able to literally dig into my family’s past.”

In a region slammed by a slumping coal industry, better identifying the McCoy homestead could help lure visitors.

The property is owned by Hatfield descendant Bob Scott, who would like to build a replica cabin on the same spot. “We’re trying to preserve the heritage of the Hatfield-McCoy feud,” he said. “People like to get off the beaten path sometimes.”

A tour group from Georgia visited the site this week, he said. Visitors from Hawaii stopped by recently.

A 2012 History Channel miniseries about the feud helped stir up new interest, while the National Geographic Channel series “Diggers” will have an episode on the feud.