In the October / November 2000 dig
, we told you about the excavations at Jamestown, the Virginia colony founded by English settlers in 1607. Now, archaeologists have discovered the remains of the Popham Colony, a settlement similar to Jamestown.
Just a few months after the Jamestown expedition landed in Virginia, two ships carrying about 100 people landed on the coast of Maine. Led by George Popham, the son of the Lord Chief Justice of England, the settlers built a fort, storage buildings, and houses for the 45 people who stayed for the first winter.
But the Popham Colony lasted only 13 months. After the death of George Popham, the new leader, Raleigh Gilbert, learned that his own brother had died back in England and decided to return home. Everyone in the colony went with him.
Since 1997, archaeologist Jeffrey Brain has been excavating the Popham site (photo), with the help of a 1607 map drawn by colonist John Hunt. During the last three field seasons, Brain and fieldschool volunteers have found foundations, English pottery, fragments of armor, and musket balls. "Finding this colony," said Brain, "is probably the most exciting moment I've had in archaeology." - Stephen Hanks