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 southeastern corner. This feature, designated 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 barracks structure above it. The later sub-pits, which cut through the early cellar component, were likely borrow 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 known as a cahow that is only indigenous to Bermuda. The presence of the limestone and the cahow 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.


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