The Colony Expands to the East

The initial triangular fort of 1607 was ultimately expanded toward the east. Evidence of the addition has been found in the form of two palisade sections branching off of the triangular fort’s eastern palisade. One of these additions begins at the southeastern corner of the fort and heads east for 60 feet before terminating at the western end of the factory. The other addition branches off of the eastern palisade at the northern bulwark and heads east for at least 40 feet. This addition was likely what John Smith referred to when he wrote the fort was reduced to a “five-square form” in 1608. Future archaeology will continue to explore this eastern addition to James Fort and potentially reveal more of the additions and help to date when these additions took place.

Alongside the 1608 features, archaeologists also found evidence of planting furrows. This is possibly the earliest English agriculture within the Americas. The rows, created by a shovel or hoe and spaced three feet apart, had additional mounds of earth placed upon topsoil. This technique allowed water to easily reach the plant roots. These archaeological findings align with historical documents in which both the Virginia Company and John Smith mention planting in the early fort years. Additional soil and pollen analysis will help archaeologists determine what types of plants grew within these rows and thus shed more light on the early colonists’ diets.