The 60-foot-long walls and thatch roof are all gone now, but a row of graves was subsequently found in what would have been the church’s chancel— an area near the altar where prominent Anglicans were traditionally buried. “That’s when we started high-fiving,” said, Mr. Kelso, director of archaeology at Historic Jamestowne, a nonprofit organization that oversees excavations there. “I’m convinced we’ve found the church.”
The church’s exact location had bedeviled Jamestown scholars for years. Records say it was built roughly a year after Britain’s King James sent a crew of around 100 men, including Captain John Smith, to establish an outpost 40 miles upriver from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
The men were supposed to be primarily seeking a profit, not Christian converts. The only previous evidence of a church consisted of remnants of a later church, built in 1617 near the eastern wall of the fort. But this summer’s find proves Capt. Smith’s men planted their first church in the center of the compound, the first and largest structure anyone would notice after passing through the fort’s entrance.