A Multipurpose Pit

The first significant feature excavated by the Rediscovery team in 1994 was an amorphous pit, with complicated stratigraphy, located near James Fort’s south eastern corner. This feature, Pit 1, was 20’ by 16’ and contained five sub-pits related to activities during the first few years of the settlement. The general shape and straight side walls of the pit’s earliest component suggested that it initially served as a cellar for the structure above it: the barracks building. The later sub-pits, that cut through the early cellar component, were likely burrow pits used for gathering clay for construction purposes.

Like the barracks, Pit 1 was oriented parallel to James Fort’s south palisade wall, suggesting it was contemporary with the fort. Another indicator that the pit related to the fort period (1607-1624) were the presence of numerous early 17th-century artifacts. The artifact assemblage included arms and armor, copper and beads for trade, Virginia Indian pottery, and an array of European ceramic types. The pit also contained pieces of Bermudan limestone and faunal remains associated with a petrel bird species only indigenous to Bermuda. The presence of the limestone and the petrel bones suggest they were not deposited in Pit 1 until after the survivors of the Sea Venture shipwreck, who had been stranded on Bermuda for ten months, arrive at Jamestown in May of 1610. They were the first English colonists to have set foot on Bermuda before making their way to Jamestown.