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James Fort

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Fort reconstruction
National Geographic reconstruction of the fort
The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities

Within a few months of the Jamestown landing, the settlers built a wooden fort, James Fort. From contemporary accounts and the sketch of the fort by the Spanish ambassador, we know that the wooden palisade walls formed a triangle around a storehouse, church, and a number of houses. At each tip of the triangle was a bulwark with artillery, and the fort was constructed of a palisade of planks and strong posts.

Although the Jamestown Island was made a National Park in 1934, the exact location of the original settlement was unknown until 1994 when it was discovered. Since then archeologists have learned much about that first settlement and the people who lived there.

picture of site
The Jamestown archeological site.
The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities

drawing of Fort
Drawing of James Fort made by Pedro de Zuniga, a Spanish ambassador, in 1609.
The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities

They brought with them many comforts of home and even articles to keep up with fashion. There were no women, but men still fretted about their grooming - cleaning implements for the teeth and ears were found at the archeological site.

Disease, famine, lack of fresh water, and continuing attacks of neighboring Algonquians plagued the colonists and made that first winter a difficult one. The Indians, hoping that the settlers would give up and leave, raided their camps, stealing pistols, gunpowder, and other valuable supplies.

1602 sixpence pictre
sixpence dated 1602 found at James Fort
The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities

John Smith later wrote about early years of the colony, and their many tribulations. He hated the other leaders who he said were lazy and didn't want to work. People died of disease, and the shortage of drinkable water was serious.

1602 sixpence pictre
a copper spur which had been silvered - expensive - an important status symbol for gentlemen
The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities

Eventually they built a well inside the settlement, which helped reduce the deaths. Archeologists found the site of the well in 2002 and have only begun to recover artifacts from it.

Disease, famine, lack of fresh water, and continuing attacks of neighboring Algonquians plagued the colonists and made that first winter a difficult one. The Indians, hoping that the settlers would give up and leave, raided their camps, stealing pistols, gunpowder, and other valuable supplies.

 

 

 


Part of The Virginia English Colony at Jamestown exhibit

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