At the Edge of the Precipice: Frontier Ventures, Jamestown's Hinterlands, and the Archaeology of 44JC802

Part of the Sandys (44JC802) project

Author(s): Seth Mallios

Year: 2000


From 1996-98, archaeologists under the direction of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities’ (APVA) Jamestown Rediscovery project excavated site 44JC802. In the summer of 1996, APVA staff members instructed and supervised work at the site by 13 field-school students

enrolled in a University of Virginia (UVa) archaeological field school. A full-time crew of excavators continued digging from November 1997 to August 1998. Field school students, again affiliated with a UVa summer program, worked at the site during July 1998.

Archaeologists named site 44JC802 after the area’s first documented land owner, George Sandys. Jamestown’s inaugural resident treasurer, an accomplished writer, and the son of the archbishop of York, George Sandys patented 400 acres in 1624 on the northside of the James River between Lieutenant John Jefferson’s land to the west and Grove Creek and Martin’s Hundred to the east. The Sandys site, located in James City County, Virginia, on a parcel known as Kingsmill Neck, sat atop a bluff overlooking the James River, five miles east of Jamestown Island. The report presented here summarizes findings from 44JC802.

Archaeological investigations revealed that English colonists occupied the site from ca. 1630-50. Historical records identified individuals who owned or operated the land during this time. Sandys sold his 400 northside acres in James City to Edward Grendon in the 1620s. When Grendon passed away in 1628, he left the land to his son Thomas, an English merchant. Thomas instructed his attorneys to dispose of the territory, and by 1638 they had arranged a sale with John Browning. Records of the transaction indicated that before Browning acquired the land, a merchant named John Wareham had been in possession of it. John Browning’s son, William, repatented his father’s land upon inheriting it in 1646. By the 1650s or ’60s, the original Sandys tract had passed into the hands of Colonel Thomas Pettus. Occupation at site 44JC802 likely related to a group of resident or non-resident owners and their tenants or indentured servants.

Excavation of 44JC802 revealed 25 features, including three post-in-ground structures, three slot trenches, a well, a daub pit, and a storage pit. The Sandys site yielded more than 40,000 artifacts—primarily pottery, clay tobacco pipes, case-bottle glass, arms and armor, architectural remains, shell, chipped quartzite and flint, and faunal remains.

Analysis of the findings suggested that the site served as a farmstead for a single group of occupants. Information gleaned from the artifact collection and archaeological context offered insights into the outfitting and operation of one of Virginia’s earliest attempts at settling Jamestown’s hinterland.

Cite this Record

At the Edge of the Precipice: Frontier Ventures, Jamestown's Hinterlands, and the Archaeology of 44JC802. Seth Mallios. Jamestown, VA: Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. 2000 ( tDAR id: 6077) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8Z60MGW

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1630 to 1650

Spatial Coverage

min long: -77.498; min lat: 36.633 ; max long: -75.41; max lat: 39.368 ;

File Information

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sandys.pdf 2.07mb May 7, 2011 11:07:40 AM Public