Saturday, April 5, 2014

Jamestown

After a good breakfast we headed off to nearby Jamestown, the site of the first permanent settlement by the English in America.





We took the Colonial Parkway which is an interesting road built in the 1930's through 1950's which was designed to be a beautiful drive to link the historic places in the area. It certainly is a pleasure to gently meander along with very little traffic to mar the pleasure.


Jamestown was built on an island and to get to it you have to cross a swampy area.



We used my National Parks Senior Pass which reduced the cost of entry from $14 to $5 and followed a guide into the site of the settlement.



Crossing the swamp.


Since this was the first permanent settlement back in 1607, it was decided to erect this huge monument in 1907 which towers over everything else.



Spring blossoms.


A large crowd waiting to enter the recreation of the church. Just by chance, we arrived on the 400th anniversary of the marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe. Naturally there had to be a reenactment and there were big crowds expected to witness the event.


The James River. I have no idea what the pilings are for. I suspect they date from the American Civil War when the Confederates built a fort here.


The guide talked about the wedding 400 years ago and asked if there were any descendants. The lady in the pink top raised her hand.


Virtually everything here is a reconstruction, including the palisade. It was thought until recently that the site of the fort was submerged in the river but excavations just a few years proved that it was in fact mostly on dry land. The palisades now stand in their original positions.



A cannon from the appropriate time period.




Reconstruction of the barracks.


Ruins of the tower from the original church.



The red bricks of the reconstructed church above the original foundation.


Inside the reconstructed part of the church which was first constructed in 1639.


Grave stones.


The crowd waiting for the wedding.


Archaeologist at work.


More digging.


Actors getting ready for the big event.


Model of the original fort.



The archaeologist spoke about what they had found in the pit. I think he said they had found where they made bread.


A new dig starting.


Old well.





Earthworks from the Civil War time.


A museum has been built recently to house the archaeological finds. 



The site of a graveyard with many bodies. While there was some initial cooperation between the settlers and the local Indians during the time when John Smith was in charge, relations deteriorated badly when he had to return to England to be treated for a bad wound.  The winter of 1609 - 1610 was particularly hard and along with Indian attacks resulted in only 60 colonists surviving out of 500. It was known as the Starving Time and the museum displays some skeletons that show evidence of cannibalism.

You can read John Smith's account of his time in America here.


The wedding was about to begin and the actors approached in a line.


No doubt they had practiced but they all looked quite bored.



Pocahontas at the rear. She was to be married at least three times this day as they would repeat the ceremony for visitors later in the day.






A statue of Pocahontas who probably did not look anything like this girl.



On out way back to the car, we noticed that these turtles had emerged from the swamp to sun themselves.



We headed south by taking a car ferry across the James River. It took about 15 minutes and was a pleasant boat ride.

Marianne and I have now been to the settlement three times. Each time it has been quite different. The last time we were there was in 2001 and there have been big changes during that period as a result of the archaeology digs.




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