East of the Fort

Jamestown began expanding eastward as early as 1608, with the construction of an addition to the original fort. Over the course of the 1610s and 1620s, the settlement continued to spread out into the area that came to be called New Towne. Archaeology on the eastern side of the fort may help us to understand more about Jamestown’s early growth and its transition from fort to town.

The 1607 fort’s East Bulwark was first discovered in 1995. Subsequent excavations explored most of the area around it and along the East Palisade. The Dig Deeper episode below discusses what was found. However, there are still some units left to be excavated, which in the 1990s were underneath a temporary viewing platform.

In 2020, archaeologists again began excavating new units in this area and re-examined some previous finds to learn more about how this part of the site was used by the early colonists. Before the extension to the fort was constructed, this location was outside the palisade but was enclosed within the fort when it was expanded in 1608.

Planting furrows had previously been identified in this area that pre-date the 1608 extension to the fort. The earlier excavations also documented a large pit feature containing early 17th-century artifacts, which the current team revisited along with several 17th- and 18th-century ditches identified in previous excavations. Exploring these features has helped to expand our understanding of the colonial landscape. These units were completed in May 2021, but the artifacts and findings are still being analyzed.

Want a closer look? Several episodes of our Dig Deeper series on YouTube feature updates on the current excavations.

Aerial view of excavations and viewing platform
The east side of the fort in the late 1990s. Note the unexcavated areas beneath the ramp for the viewing platform. The platform itself occupies the area of the East Bulwark, and the Memorial Church is just visible in the upper right. (click to expand the image)