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How Old is Henrytowne?

HenrytowneAt Left: Donald Proffett works on a palisade at the site of an ongoing recreation of Henrytowne. Photo by Joe Fudge, Daily Press.

Fort Story archaeologists and Virginia officials are building an early colonial town site believed to be Henrytowne, which was founded in 1609 about five miles west of Fort Story in Virginia Beach. This is the first 17th-century English settlement discovered that is contemporaneous with Jamestown, within the Virginia Company period. Long known as the Lake Joyce site or the Chesopean site, Henrytowne now raises questions about whether this was the site that John Smith referred to when he stated that he went “back to Cape Henry in 1608.”

On the other hand, Archaeologist Nick Luccketti, who is head of the Williamsburg-based James River Institute for Archaeology and part of the team that discovered Jamestown, conducted a limited excavation at the Lynnhaven site in 2005; and, while he and his colleagues uncovered the remains of a remarkably intact series of structures as well as a host of artifacts, nothing dated earlier than the second quarter of the 17th century. Whatever the settlement’s actual date, its close connection to Colonial Virginia’s earliest period has provided the spark for a recreated English town site and Indian village as well as a historical drama scheduled to debut at nearby Cape Henry in April. Read more about this site at the Daily Press.

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