The Building in the Center of the Fort

Located close to the geographic center of James Fort were six large structural postholes, remains of two walls of a building. The postholes were likely part of a substantial post-in-ground structure, possibly James Fort’s early storehouse. The building was oriented on a southwest to northeast axis that was nearly perpendicular to the south palisade wall of James Fort. These posts were spaced evenly on 10 foot centers along the long side of the structure and on 8 foot centers at the northern end. Future excavation will continue to search for more posts associated with this structure. As of early 2009, we know this building to be at least 40 feet long by 16 feet wide.

Several of the postholes have been excavated, and the artifacts found were of Virginia Indian manufacture. The lack of European artifacts in the posthole fill indicated that these postholes were likely from the early fort period. The area around the postholes probably had not yet been occupied by the colonists long enough to leave European artifacts on the landscape (i.e., artifacts that in turn may have found their way into the posthole fill at the time of construction).

The location and size of the six posts indicated they were associated with one of James Fort’s large public buildings. A document left by the secretary of the colony, William Strachey, suggested that the Virginia Company storehouse may have been located in the center of the fort. In 1610 Strachey wrote, “in the midst [of James Fort] is a market place, a storehouse, and a corps de garde.” At this point, it is believed that the posts were a section of this storehouse, but it is far too early to rule out the possibility that the posts were part of the corps de garde or guard house, or another James Fort building.