The new black locust timbers that make up the interpretive palisade will last for decades to come. (Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation)

JAMESTOWN — When Jamestown archaeologists began the search for James Fort in 1994, one of the first pieces of evidence that the fort site still existed on land, instead of being lost to the James River, was the stains left behind by the logs of the palisade walls.

Over nine years, archaeology revealed the full footprint of the original 1607 triangular fort and the team was able to map the exact size, shape, and position of each post that made up the palisade, according to the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation, and based on that evidence, an interpretive palisade was built in 2004.

At almost twenty years old, the palisade was due for improvement, and last year, Jamestown contracted with Williamsburg-based traditional carpentry shop Black Creek Workshop to completely replace the 2004 palisade.

Carefully built directly atop the original fort trenches, the modern palisade allows visitors to envision the scale of the first English fort at Jamestown, the foundation said. Based on historical and archaeological records, the fort measures 420 feet on the riverside and 300 feet on the landward sides, with a 50-foot bulwark at each corner — roughly an acre in size.

The new palisade was built using black locust logs sourced from Wisconsin and Jamestown, New York. Black locust is highly durable and weathers the elements and resists insect damage far better than other types of wood, the foundation noted.

Black Creek carpenters Ben Bristow and Jesse Robertson processed each log using techniques similar to those the colonists would have used over 400 years ago, according to the foundation. Bristow and Robertson removed bark at the bottom of the logs, split them, and then created units of logs connected by a cross-rail. The log unit is installed using pegs and earthen trenches, just as they were built in 1607.

“For most of history, people believed the fort had eroded away,” said Jim Horn, Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation President. “Having the interpretive palisade in the exact location of the original fort helps visitors understand what was under the soil the entire time and the significance of the more than 4 million artifacts found since the fort was discovered.”

The new palisade was completed in March and dedicated by Jamestown’s staff, the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation Board of Trustees, and Black Creek Workshop on March 31.

Construction was funded through the Dr. William M. and Ellen B. Kelso Fund for Archaeology, with major support from Williamsburg residents and Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation Trustees Elaine and Don Bogus.