Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Jamestowne (Don't forget the "e" on the end.)

Friday we headed over to Historic Jamestowne. There are two Jamestowns, one is a living history museum/town near the original Jamestown. The other is operated by the National Park Service and is the actual site of Jamestowne where you won't find costumed interpreters (or many buses full of school children) but archaeologists and guides. Homeschoolers can get in free to the Jamestowne and Yorktown NPS sites by bringing a letter with them. It was easy as pie and saved me $8.

There is alot being planned over the next 18 months to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. Events are not just in Jamestown, in fact the Godspeed will be a floating museum in several different cities along the East Coast. If you live near Boston, RI, NYC, Philadelphia or Baltimore be sure to check the calendar so that you can get on board! In Jamestown, on May 13th, the new museum will open up and later in the summer a brand new visitors' center should be completed. When we arrived the old museum was closed and the visitors' center was VERY small. It was a beautiful day, however, and on the walk over to the historic area we saw some red-winged blackbirds and turtles in a swampy area. The park preserves not only the history but provides a wildlife refuge for many endangered species. (Not that the turtles or blackbirds are endangered, but they were easy to spot!) One of the rangers told us there were 3 bald eagle nests in the park as well as osprey nests. We saw an immature bald eagle in a tree near the fort and an osprey nest on the way driving out.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Before you cross the bridge to the historic area, stop by the glassmaking area. 100_1648.JPGThere were four craftsmen blowing and stamping glass while we were there. Very willing to answer questions and explain the process. They use a gas powered oven, but other than that the tools and techniques are authentic. Right next to the demonstration area is a shop with glass objects made right there. We found an affordable paperweight as a memento and picked up a Christmas present.

The highlight of our visit to the historic fort at Jamestowne was talking with an archeologist. She was working in a trench where they were going to be rebuilding part of the pallisade wall. 100_1665.JPGShe explained what she was doing and why, how she could notice changes in the color of soil (soil stains) and why those were significant. She told us with excitement things they had found last week in a well they are excavating (pieces of armour, pottery shards, plant seeds...). She also explained why after 400 years something as organic as a pumpkin seed could be found intact. Later on, we came back to watch her dig some more and she found a little copper thing that goes on the end of a shoelace. As she was putting it into her bag of artifacts she pulled out 2 pieces of pipe and explained how the white one was from England and the red one was made with clay from VA. As she rubbed the dirt off of it she found a seal stamped into the clay. That little clue told her that it was made by the first pipe maker in the Jamestowne colony. When asked about how she got into this profession she talked of parents who loved history, growing up near fields to explore and look for arrowheads and the awe she feels at handling things that people held hundreds of years before. The Historic Jamestowne site has pictures of many artifacts and lots of lessons and other resources for teaching.

We were very hungry as it was almost 1:30pm, but Erin remembered a DIG magazine at the shop, so we bought some books before hopping into the Jeep. A grocery store provided a nutritious lunch on the road. We listened to the exploits of Grandma Dowdell from A Year Down Yonder as we took the three hour drive to Southern Maryland. We arrived at my friends apartment and enjoyed an evening at the Naval Air Station looking at planes and playing on the beach.

Next: Celtic Festival of Southern Maryland - in which we hear "Scotland the Brave" played on pipes about 100 times.


Post a Comment

<< Home