Powhatan's Chimney

Powhatan's Chimney

Powhatan's Chimney is located at present day Wicomico, in Gloucester County, Virginia, USA.

Powhatan's Chimney was long considered clue to the site of Werowocomoco, a capital village of Chief Powhatan in what is now Virginia. According to Captain John Smith, Werowocomoco was located on the north side of the York River about 25 miles from where the river divided at West Point, Virginia at the time the Jamestown Settlement was established in 1607. Chief Powhatan relocated his capital to a more inland location not long thereafter. The exact location of the site of Werowocomoco was lost as the Powhatan Confederacy and its people were largely replaced by the English settlers by the middle of the 17th century.

According to legend, Powhatan's Chimney is all that remained of the house that Smith built at Werowocomoco for Chief Powhatan. It fell down in 1888 and started the movement that resulted in the formation of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA). This organization rebuilt the chimney in the 1930's. [ [http://www.gloucesterva.info/POWHATANCHIMNEY.HTM Gloucester History: Powhatan Chimney ] ]

In the early 21st century, landowners along the York River some miles to the west found artifacts indicating the possible site of Werowocomoco on their property. Since 2003, archaeologists have been been working there, carefully including consultation of members of the local Native American tribes, the Mattaponi and Pamunkey, who are prominent among the decedents of the Powhatan Confederacy, as such sites which include burial artifacts are sacred to these tribes.

This is ongoing debate about which location may have been the site of Chief Powhatan's capital. It has been noted that both the newly identified site on Purtan Bay and the traditional site of Powhatan's Chimney at Wicomico are both located within an area that the Native Americans may have considered as Werowocomoco. The minutes of the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors that the village of the chief in the Algonquian language was not a place name, but more correctly translated, a reference to the lands where he lived, and the lifestyle included frequent relocations of various quarters within a general area. [ [ Board of Supervisors Meeting, Gloucester County, VA, Nov. 8, 2006] ]


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