Iron leading staff piece
Conserved leading staff

Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists discovered a 3-inch long iron fragment, the terminus of a leading staff, which had been placed alongside Captain Gabriel Archer’s coffin. In the 17th century, a leading staff was an indicator of a captain’s ceremonial rank, helping to confirm the identification of the individual as Archer. This is the second leading staff associated with a burial at James Fort as in 2004 archaeologists discovered the remains of a complete example in the grave of Captain Bartholomew Gosnold. However, Archer’s leading staff was likely placed into the ground broken as there was no evidence of the original wood shaft or the languets for attaching it to the shaft. Burying him with an incomplete leading staff could be a reflection of the brutal “starving time” conditions during which Archer was buried.