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HomeNews400-Year-Old Underground Workshop/Kitchen Found at Historic Jamestowne
400-Year-Old Underground Workshop/Kitchen Found at Historic Jamestowne

HISTORIC JAMESTOWNE, Virginia -- Archaeological excavations at the site of historic 1607 James Fort at Jamestown, Virginia ended the 2007 digging season with the discovery of an original underground workshop/laboratory that eventually became a large basement kitchen, possibly for serving the first resident Governor and his councilors.

The cellar and church tower
The cellar and church tower
"This cellar marks one of the most significant building sites yet found inside the wall lines of James Fort" said APVA Director of Archaeology, Dr. William Kelso. "The architectural remains and individual artifacts read like a history book of the entire life of James Fort."

Archaeologists found at least three successive cellar floor levels. The earliest containing iron tools and a spread of metal particles, evidence of the workings of a blacksmith. Also the discovery of high fired clay cups known as crucibles, fragments of ceramic drug or chemical pots, and piles of wood ashes all suggest that the 1608 experiments of metallurgists looking for precious metals, glassmakers, and soap makers may have taken place in this building.

The later 20' x 14' kitchen conversion included two bake ovens sculpted into the clay walls and a brick chimney fireplace foundation. The fireplace remained mostly intact which could represent the oldest surviving brickwork in English America. Located near a cobble footing that likely was the location of Governor Sir Thomas Gates half-timber house, it is possible that food for Gates and successive governors was prepared there until the early 1620s.

Then the building was abandoned and disappeared leaving an open cellar hole that colonists finally filled with clay and discarded objects including suits of body armor, a face guard from a helmet known as a close helmet, and over two dozen sword parts.

Contact Tina Calhoun, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for APVA Preservation Virginia for further information. 804-648-1889, x 316.

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