Sunday, October 28, 2007
The day after we visited historic Yorktown, VA and the site of the 1781 Siege, we went back in time to 1607 and toured the nearby archaeological site of James Fort, the first English settlement in Virginia. Until 1994, scholars believed that the original fort was washed out to sea and lost. But recent excavations have uncovered a wealth of relics from the colonists and the local Algonquian Indians. Due to the rain, the sites were covered with tarps during our visit. But an Archaearium, constructed next to the fort site, displays many relics, including the skeletal remains of two people along with compelling evidence of who they might be. This fascinating museum also displays pottery, coins, buttons, arrowheads, and much more. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited James Fort in May of this year to commemorate the 400th anniversary of its founding. Her state gift of a chair, made with wood from both England & America, is on display at the Archaearium. Under the seat is a carved image of one of the three original sailing ships that founded the Virginia Colony. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photographs of any artifacts in the museum building, including this magnificent chair.
The original triangular James Fort site encompasses only about an acre. This sign posted in the fort display shows an overview of the fort's original layout.
As you walk through the gate, a church and tower stand to your left. The church was not a part of the original fort. A clear view of the tower can be seen in the photo of Capt. John Smith, further down the page.
Just inside the gate, young girls posed with the statue of Pocahontas. I though that was great! How many historical statues of a woman have you ever seen? Pocahontas was kidnapped from the Indians, converted to Christianity, and married John Rolfe. The marriage helped ease tensions between the Virginians and the Indians. Pocahontas deserves much of the credit for the colonists' survival.
The fence and the framing for the barracks have been reconstructed. The barracks was probably done in "Mud and Stud" with a thatched roof, a common construction method in England.
Near the river's edge stands a statue of Capt. John Smith, leader of the colony.
The official web site for Historic Jamestown, administered by the National Park Service is http://www.nps.gov/jame/index.htm. This is a separate entity from Jamestown Settlement, a living history museum, which is run by the state of VA.