Archaeologists Trying to Find Notable Bones in Jamestown

Archaeologists think Lord De La Warr was the first to be buried in the colonists' church
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2017 3:00 PM CDT
In Jamestown, a Tough Quest: Find De La Warr's Bones
Settlers at Jamestown.   (Getty Images)

The Jamestown Rediscovery project has made some notable finds in the past, but it's now going after one of the colony's biggest fish. The Washington Post reports on excavations that are underway in a church on the site dating to 1906. Prior churches stood in its place over the preceding centuries and saw early colonists find eternal rest there. And it's a bit of a mess: There are as many as four layers of burials, and early archaeologists took a stab at sifting through the site during the late 19th and early 20th centuries without using the careful methodology that such a precious site is approached with today. The goal is to find the man believed to have been buried there first, in 1618: Lord De La Warr.

Look carefully at that last name: It now appears as the more American-friendly "Delaware" in locations throughout our country. Also known as Thomas West, De La Warr prevented the dwindling and starving colony from being abandoned in its early days, presiding over it for a short time as the governor of Virginia. He ultimately died at sea while en route to Virginia from England less than a decade later; his body was brought back ashore, and head Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologist William Kelso says there wouldn't have been a more prime burial location than the newly built church. "Yeah, I think he's in there," says Kelso, though "there are so many graves cutting through graves, cutting through graves, cutting through graves. ... [It's] complicated." Read the full story at the Post. (More Jamestown stories.)

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