A close up of James Fort on the Zuniga map

A Spanish Spy Map of James Fort

This hand-drawn map depicts the only known illustration of 1607 James Fort and its surroundings. The rendering was delivered to King Philip III of Spain by his ambassador in London, Pedro de Zuniga, in 1608. Zuniga’s job was to keep the Spanish king informed of English progress in colonizing North America. Prior to the rediscovery of James Fort, historians and archaeologists took this drawing as a representative icon only; a simple sketch of a fort with a very out-of-scale flag. Excavations of the fort site have helped clarify what the map intentioned to represent.

While the archaeological evidence that survives matches the depictions of the enclosed triangle, there are discrepancies with the shape of the bastions at the corners. In 2010, Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists uncovered the church of 1608 in the approximate location of the “x” or cross drawn in the fort sketch; suggesting that it was intended to mark the church. The flag-like projection, protruding north, possibly represents an enclosed settlement or garden. Because this area was mined to gather soil to construct the Confederate earthwork fort in 1861, no evidence of any archaeological features remain at the site’s present elevation to help illuminate what that map feature represented.

This image of James Fort from the Zuniga map is used as a logo for Jamestown Rediscovery Project and Historic Jamestowne.