Werowocomoco in Gloucester now protected by National Park Service

(Photo: @GovernorVa/Twitter)
(Photo: @GovernorVa/Twitter)

GLOUCESTER COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — Werowocomoco, located on the bank of the York River in Gloucester County, is now protected by the National Park Service.

Werowocomoco is the former capital of the Powhatan Chiefdom and also the presumed site of Captain John Smith’s first meeting with the leader Powhatan and his daughter, Pocahontas. When it opens to the public, the 264-acre property will be “the crown jewel of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail,” the governor said.

Governor Terry McAuliffe made the announcement Wednesday during the recognition ceremony at the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. The event also served as an opportunity for tribal representatives to share their knowledge of the site’s significance with state and federal officials.

Only about one percent of Werowocomoco’s 50-acre archaeological core has been investigated to date. Initial findings suggest the settlement was occupied as early as 1200 CE and functioned as a spiritual and political center for the region’s Algonquian Indians.

At its peak, the Powhatan Chiefdom spread across much of eastern Virginia and may have included 30 tribes with an estimated population of above 14,000.

Since 2003, Virginia’s Indians have worked with archaeologists from the College of William & Mary to study and excavate the ancient town. Their efforts led to Werowocomoco’s 2006 listing on the National Register of Historic Places and spurred a conservation easement to be signed in 2013 by then-Governor Bob McDonnell, covering the site’s 50-acre archaeological core.

Learn more about the Werowocomoco park planning and research here.