Historic Jamestowne, Williamsburg
Categories: History Museums, Historic Sites, Museums, Tourist Spots
Situated on the banks of the James River, Historic Jamestowne represents the site of the first English colony in North America. You can wander among reconstructed buildings of the original James Fort, which resemble their 17th-century appearance. Dig deeper by exploring the archaeological museum that displays items from the original English colonists, local Native American tribes, and the Africans who called the region home. Facing the river, catch a glimpse of the statue of John Smith, a leader in the development of the Virginia Colony in its early years. Before you head to Williamsburg, plan trip itinerary details with our user-friendly Williamsburg holiday planner, to make sure you see all that Williamsburg has to offer, including Historic Jamestowne.
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Spent about 3-4 hours here with good talks from a ranger and an archaeologist. Not a vast site but worth visiting
This place is as much about England as it is the the USA. As an English man I am impressed by the detail, affection and enthusiasm of everyone involved. The original 3 ships sailed from Blackwall in L... read more »
The museum is very well done. The fort and tall ships were great. We spent more than a half day there and then drove over to the National Park for some more great history. Love the area, the view on t... read more »
This is living history. Most of the buildings are completely ruined, so it's worthwhile to complement this site with the full sized model of the Jamestown Fort that is just 5min away, especially if you have kids who may not be impressed by some old ruins. However, the island is really beautiful and a great place to just stroll along for the day and learn some history. The visitor center building closes at 5pm, but you can actually stay as late as 8:30pm. I enjoyed the evening doing some reading with my dog by my side on a shady bench, under a tree, overlooking the water. Also, the café has a dog-friendly patio area. They brought my dog a nice big bowl full of ice water!
This is the actual site of the Jamestown Settlement of 1607. There are ongoing archaeological excavations, with new discoveries every year. You can see the sites of the original settlement buildings. The ruin of the original Brick Church Tower is still standing, with a reconstruction of the Old Brick Church. Site was continuously inhabited for 300 years, and the ruins of the brick home of the last time habitants is still visible. There is a civil war fort. There is a place to get a light meal. There are two interpretive museums on the site. There are walking trails and a road through the forest for a driving tour.
The Jamestown settlement is a incredible display of what the very first European settlers had to endure to survive in the new world, how they lived, and where many of them perished. One of the first things you’ll notice when you walk into the original settlement is a number of wood crosses marking the graves of some of the original settlers. You’ll also see that they are excavating and still finding artifacts to this day. Look around and take notice to the size of the initial settlement, it seems extremely small for how many buildings and people lived there. The view from the encampment is stunning. The settlement sits on the water and must have been a great defensive position at the time. The park has two distinct sections the old/original and the newer more developed section. The newer section showcases the progress made as the years went by, with large brick homes and some foundations available to walkthrough. Traveling to the settlement from the South using a GPS, we were surprised to come upon a ferry to take us to the park. It is a free ferry and took about 30-45 minutes total, with loading, the trip across the water, and unloading. The park was clean and the rangers were informative and polite. Well worth a visit to see this important part of American history.
I am a writer and photographer for National Park Planner and I visited Historic Jamestown in May 2016. The park, a unit of Colonial National Historical Park, includes the original James Fort and settlement site (Old Town) and the subsequent town site known as New Town. Soon after the English colonists arrived in 1607 they set out constructing a fort around their settlement site for protection against the Indians. Two men had been wounded when they first set foot on the North American continent at Cape Henry, so needless to say, relationship with the Indians was bad from the very start. The original colonists were the investors from the Virginia Company, mainly upper class “gentlemen,” and their hired men. Once the settlement was established, additional colonists arrived, including women. By 1620, the population had grown to the point where the colonists left the fort to settle and farm larger tracts of land on the island. Called New Town, the first homes sprang up just outside the fort walls, and over the years the town grew farther and farther to the southeast. Jamestown prospered until 1699, when the capital of Virginia, which was Jamestown, was moved to Willamsburg. This sent the town into a rapid decline and most people were gone by the mid 1700s, when two families owned most of the island. A visit to Historic Jamestown begins at the National Park Visitor Center. This is where you must first come to pay your park entrance fee. A large museum that covers the history of Jamestown is on the premises, and a park orientation film is shown in the theater. Both Old and New Town are reached by taking the paved path at the back of the Visitor Center. Old Town is where you will find the archaeological ruins of the original Jamestown settlement at James Fort, including the church site where Pocahontas was most likely married to John Rolfe. For a look at artifacts found during the fort’s excavation, be sure to check out the Voorhees Archaearium located nearby. Just outside the gates of Old Town is New Town. A loop path takes visitors past replicas of various building foundations discovered during archaeological excavations (the original foundations were reburied). The rest of the island can be explored along Island Drive, a 5-mile paved road that is open to vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. For complete information on visiting Historic Jamestown, including many quality photos, visit National Park Planner (npplan).
I visited the park with my 2 grandsons. we took the ranger tour with Ranger Jerome. He was great. His description of the settlement history was entertaining and informative. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and I would highly recommend it to everyone.
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