mysteries, theories, and archaeological challenges

For two decades, the Jamestown Rediscovery Project has brought to vivid life the stories of early James Fort. As early as 1837, eyewitness accounts claimed that the fort built in 1607 by Captain John Smith and the first English settlers was submerged in the James River. But when Dr. William Kelso visited Jamestown in 1963 as a graduate student at the College of William and Mary in nearby Williamsburg, he was skeptical of that theory. He wondered if the standing 17th-century brick church tower would have been constructed near the center of the original fort, where an earlier church once stood. Under his leadership, the Jamestown Rediscovery Project launched in 1994 and within three archaeological seasons had uncovered enough evidence to prove the remains of James Fort existed on dry land near the church tower. Since then, Jamestown Rediscovery’s mission has evolved into a more challenging undertaking. Today more than a dozen staff members excavate, interpret, preserve, conserve, and research the site’s findings. Read more about the history of the project and the historic preservation of the site.