Jamestown National Park (Jamestown, Virginia)
Another location I haven’t been to since childhood, and a site dear to my heart of inspirations that were just one more brick in the road of my childhood that led me into Archaeology as a life passion. I remember vividly when my father took me to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Mesa Verde, and a dozen other Archaeological parks. Jamestown is much more the historical “archaeological” section of Virginia’s famous “Historical Triangle”. While Colonial Williamsburg is much more popular (and certainly more touristy) in many ways, Jamestown is much more textbook and on-hands educational and informative (in my opinion). So I knew I’d be spending most of the day at this park. I was also inspired upon entrance that instead of paying the $10 entrance fee, that I would purchase an Annual pass to the National Parks ($80) as I know I’ll be hitting quite a few of them through the year. I always felt I should have been given a life pass to them since I used to work for the National Park Service, but I suppose that’s one perk they just don’t give to their employees.
Jamestown Colonial National Historical Park, Virginia
In 1893 the landowners Mr. and Mrs. Edward Barney donated 22 1/2 acres of land which held the archaeological remains of the original Jamestown settlement, the 1639 tower of the Jamestown Church, and the original fort that encompassed most of Jamestown Island. They gave it to APVA Preservation Virginia which at that time was known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. In 1934, the National Park Service teamed together with APVA and created the National Park Site that exists now that is often called “Historic Jamestowne”. It was designated the “Jamestown National Historic Site” on December 18, 1940 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966 protecting it forever. This was the original site of the 1607 James Fort that was the first permanent British colony in North America and the later 17th century city of Jamestown that became the capital of the Virginia Colony that is located on Jamestown Island on the James River. Through the years erosion from the river had dissolved most of the western shore and visitors to the area just deduced that the site of James Fort was underwater. Thanks to federal assistance, a sea wall was constructed in 1900 to prevent furthere erosion and the archaeological remains were excavated and discovered in 1994. Evidence soon showed remnants of Bacon’s Rebellion that occured on this site in 1676 when the statehouse was burned and after its 2nd burning when the capital was relocated to higher ground at Middle Plantation (1699) which became the site of Colonial Williamsburg. After the relocation, this site reverted to little used farmland and became the site of Confederate earthworks during the Civil War with the intention to provide river defenses against Union gunboats. The Ambler Farm was then burned by escaped slaves and the remains slowly sunk into the vast marshes and wooded lands of the Island until its rediscovery and scientific explorations that made it the site that exists today. A very popular tourist spot, even Queen Elizabeth visited on May 4, 2007 for her second visit (the first being October 1957). Jamestowne is one of the three popular locations that comprise Virginia’s famous Historic Triangle that is nestled along the National Park Services scenic 22 mile long biway known as the Colonial Parkway.
Historic Jamestowne Island, Virginia
ongoing excavations (5/21/08 view) on Jamestowne Island, Virginia
Governor Yeardley’s Lot, 1620’s
[ insert from the interpretive display at Jamestowne park ]
“… for his conveniency and the more Commodity of his houses and dwellings.” (Yeardley’s land patent, 1624)
“George Yeardley arrived in Jamestown in 1610, was appointed captain of the guard, and eventually lieutenant governor. Later knighted and appointed Governor of Virginia in 1618, he issued the Great Charter in 1619, establishing the first representative government in Virginia. In 1620, Yeardley acquired a seven-and-a-quarter-acre lot extending east of this location. A 1625 muster roll listed the member’s of Yeardley’s large household: Yeardley, his wife Lady Temperance Yeardley; their three children; and 24 servants, including three African men and five African women (8 of the first 9 Africans documented at Jamestown). Their muster also listed 50 cattle, 40 swine, and 11 goats and kids on Yeardley’s lot. In addition to three dwellings, Yeardley owned three boats … a barque, four ton shallop, and skiff. At this location, archaeologists excavated the brick foundations of a structure that may have been Yeardley’s. Scattered building materials along Back River suggest that two additional dwellings, perhaps for servants, may have been located at the eastern end of his lot. ”