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 working in this area south of the Memorial Church. They will be excavating new units as well as returning to some previous finds to learn more about how this area was used by the early colonists. Before the extension to the fort was constructed, this area was outside the palisade, and the expanded fort enclosed it.

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 hopes to revisit along with several 17th- and 18th-century ditches identified in previous excavations. Exploring these features will expand our understanding of the colonial landscape. Excavations along the shore near the East Bulwark will also provide data that can inform upcoming work being planned to improve the seawall.

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

Excavations are taking place in between the Memorial Church (#9 on the Visit Map) and the James River. Weather permitting, archaeologists are on site daily from 9:00am to 12:00pm and 1:00pm to 4:00pm.

Dig Updates
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020

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)