historical fiction, history

Jamestown Settlement & Historic Jamestowne

The Williamsburg area is rich with history – it is called the historic triangle: Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. We didn’t get up to Yorktown this time, but we did get a cab down to Jamestown Settlement. The Jamestown museum, Powhatan village re-creation, and Jamestown village rec-reation is actually a different sight from historic Jamestowne (aka the archaeological site; it’s about a mile walk down the road.)

What I didn’t know is that “historic Jamestowne”, although partly on government land, is owned, operated, and excavated by a private company. We took an archaeology tour and it was really informative in that it provided literally the most up to date information on historic Jamestowne based on current archaeology finds. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and engaging; I quite felt like I was back in college. He explained how they use a lot of 3-D printing to create examples of an excavated objects to be used on tours or in classrooms. One of the stories that really stuck with me was the story of “Jane”. This name was given to remains found basically in an excavated trash pit along with dog and horse bones. Those dog and horse bones, along with Jane’s skull, were found with the same knife markings, which means they were all eaten. Yes, survivalist cannibalism did happen at Jamestown. Jane’s skull had several trauma wounds…which can only mean her brains were likely extracted from her head for food.
What has stuck with me about Jane was the fact that through archaeological finds, they basically deduced she was a servant girl who came over right around the starving time (basically a bunch of new colonists showed up, but their supply ship got wrecked in Bermuda due to a storm–leaving a large group of people with no food and in the midst of a drought.) Jane was found to only be around 14 or 15 years old. Historic Jamestowne was able to re-create Jane’s visage based on her skull. Her chilling story still sticks with me now because I have looked upon her face and seen a young teenager who endured such harsh events only to be met with a brutal end.

Other cool findings: A small reliquary atop a grave within the church. This little box had become fused shut over time, so they had to use a really high powered x-ray to determine its contents (bones and blood, hence its being deemed a reliquary.) Also within the perimeter of the church – the spot where Pocahontas and John Rolfe got married.