silver medallion with a cross and square base
Cape Henry commemorative medallion

This 1 3/4″ metal badge or medallion was found in 2001 during excavations of the mixed soils covering the brick foundations of Jamestown’s statehouse that stood from ca. 1665-1698. Although not an artifact left by one of the colonists, this modern-day object lost by a visitor is a reminder that all who visit Jamestown become part of its history.

The badge is a replica of the marker on the wooden cross erected in 1896 by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities or APVA (now Preservation Virginia) at Cape Henry, Virginia. One of the first of many markers or plaques erected by the APVA, the Cape Henry monument commemorated the first landing on April 19, 1607 of the English colonists who went on to establish Jamestown. According to colonist George Percy, three days after their first landing the English “set up a cross at Chesupioc Bay and named that place Cape Henry.” In 1935, the APVA’s wooden cross was replaced by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Colonists with a more durable one of granite which still stands on the site.

The commemorative medallion found at Jamestown was probably lost by its owner when the attachment point to a chain or suspension ring broke at the top of the cross. The plaque beneath the cross bears the following inscription:

NEAR THIS SPOT
LANDED APRIL 26, 1607
CAPT. GABRIEL ARCHER, CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT
HON. GEORGE S. PERCY, BARTHOLOMEW GOSNOLD
EDWARD MARIA WINGFIELD
WITH TWENTY FIVE OTHERS
WHO
CALLING THE PLACE
“CAPE HENRY”
PLANTED A CROSS
APRIL 29, 1607
DEI GRATIA VIRGINIA CONDITA
THIS TABLET
IS ERECTED BY THE
ASSOCIATION FOR
PRESERVATION OF VIRGINIA ANTIQUITIES
APRIL 29, 1896

The back of the medallion has the mark of Whitehead and Hoag, a Newark, New Jersey company established in 1892 that specialized in printing and casting commemorative items and advertising novelties into the mid-20th century.

You can still visit the Cape Henry Lighthouse of 1792, which stands close to the “First Landing” site. Owned and operated by Preservation Virginia, it is one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in the United States.