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HomeThe DigSeptember 2005
Where are We Digging Now?

The Northern End of the Cobblestone Building with Brick Addition
The Northern End of the Cobblestone Building with Brick Addition
Some very early features--from the first few years of the fort--have been discovered in the past month. At the northernmost end of one of the cobblestone buildings a possible well has been found. Closer to the river a pit filled with iron slag may suggest attempts at iron manufacturing. Also, close to the center of the fort three large postholes forming a straight line have been excavated. Evidence suggests these postholes are very early and supported a substantial building--perhaps a storehouse.

Floor of Brick Addition Collapsed Into Possible Well Feature
Floor of Brick Addition Collapsed Into Possible Well Feature
Archaeologists have continued their excavations northward just inside the western palisade wall. They are following the footprint of a large cobblestone building and a brick addition to the building that approaches the northern bulwark. The brick addition has a chimney that was attached to the outside of the structure, unlike the chimneys from the main part of the building which were all inside the structure itself. A very interesting discovery has been made at this northernmost point of the excavations. Many of the bricks have fallen several feet below the floor level of the building. According to the archaeologists, this usually indicates the presence of a feature underneath the building such as a well, a cellar, or a pit. Because of the size and shape of the feature, archaeologists think they may have found a very early well.
Cobblestone Building Showing Cobblestone Foundation, Dark Horizontal Floor Joists, and String Connecting Excavated Nails to Indicate Size of Floorboards
Cobblestone Building Showing Cobblestone Foundation, Dark Horizontal Floor Joists, and String Connecting Excavated Nails to Indicate Size of Floorboards
Due to the fact that this feature was underneath the brick addition to the cobblestone building--itself a fort-period structure--the possible well feature dates to very early in the fort's history. The settlers didn't build the first well until 1608 and had been drinking the brackish river water since landing. If this feature does turn out to be an early well, it might suggest a realization that digging wells far from the river provided healthier water. This feature is about as far from the river as possible while still remaining inside the fort's walls.

Closer to the river, but underneath the cobblestone foundations of the same structure, a test pit of a feature has yielded many pounds of iron slag, a byproduct of attempting to smelt iron. Again, because this feature is underneath the cobblestone foundation, it predates it, and suggests a very early attempt to produce iron, perhaps by refining the naturally occurring bog iron found in the area.

Three Large Postholes Near Center of Fort
Three Large Postholes Near Center of Fort
Near the center of the fort three large postholes indicate the presence of a substantial building, perhaps a storehouse. The postholes are around three feet in depth and the complete lack of any historical artifacts suggests that this building was one of the first to be built. Structures built later usually yield artifacts when their foundations are excavated. This is a sign that the land being built on had been occupied previously. The postholes from this structure showed a complete lack of evidence for previous occupation by the settlers, suggesting this was the first building to be built on this spot inside the fort.

Coin Weight for a French Ecu from the Reign of Henry II (1546-1559)
Coin Weight for a French Ecu from the Reign of Henry II (1546-1559)
The conservators for Jamestown Rediscovery are busy preserving artifacts that will go on display in the Archaearium when it opens in 2006. Some of the objects currently in the conservation process are a number of coins and coin weights. Brass coin weights were used to test the authenticity of coins by placing the weight on one side of a scale and the coin in question on the other. One French weight being conserved was used to authenticate a gold coin known as an ecu minted during the reign of Henry II (1546-1559). On the reverse of this weight are the letters "O" "V" and "X." An English coin weight has three "I"s on one side, the top one being crowned for "King James." A silver penny of James I's reign, minted between 1619 and 1625 is nearing the completion of its conservation process. The coin shows the Tudor rose on one side and the Scottish thistle on the other. A few of the other copper alloy objects being conserved include a 1601 Irish penny, a Harrington farthing ca. 1613-1614 and a Hans Krauwinckle jetton minted in Nuremberg in the late 16th century. Finally, an iron lockplate from a matchlock musket is also being conserved.

More Images:
Another View of the Brick Addition Collapsing into the Possible Well Feature
Another View of the Brick Addition Collapsing into the Possible Well Feature
Archaeologists Remove Trunk of Cedar Tree Felled by Hurricane Isabel.  Removal Will Enable Them to Continue Cobblestone Building Excavation
Archaeologists Remove Trunk of Cedar Tree Felled by Hurricane Isabel. Removal Will Enable Them to Continue Cobblestone Building Excavation
Reverse of French Coin Weight with Letters 'O', 'V', and 'X'
Reverse of French Coin Weight with Letters 'O', 'V', and 'X'
Front of English Coin Weight with Crowned 'I'
Front of English Coin Weight with Crowned 'I'
Silver Penny of James I's Reign, Minted between 1619 and 1625, with Tudor Rose on One Side...
Silver Penny of James I's Reign, Minted between 1619 and 1625, with Tudor Rose on One Side...
...and a Scottish Thistle on the Other.
...and a Scottish Thistle on the Other.
...and a Scottish Thistle on the Other.
Hans Krauwinckle Jetton(late 1500s) in Foreground, Irish Penny(1601) at Top Left, Harrington Farthing(1613-1614) at Top Right
Map of the Excavations at James Fort
Map of the Excavations at James Fort
Matchlock Lockplate from a Musket...
Iron Lockplate from a Matchlock Musket...
...and a Contemporary Illustration by Jacob De Gheyn II Showing a Complete Flask
...and a Contemporary Illustration by Jacob De Gheyn II Showing a Similar Iron Lockplate on a Matchlock Musket
 

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