Unearthing History: Revolutionary War Barracks Discovered in Williamsburg, Virginia with 3D Maps of the Area

Unearthing History: Revolutionary War Barracks Discovered in Williamsburg, Virginia with 3D Maps of the Area

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Unearthing History: Revolutionary War Barracks Discovered in Williamsburg, Virginia


A Treasure Trove Beneath the Soil

The grounds of Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum dedicated to the 18th-century capital of Britain’s Virginia colony, have recently become the site of an extraordinary archaeological discovery.  Beneath the surface, archaeologists have uncovered what they believe to be the remnants of a Revolutionary War military barracks.  This find includes chimney bricks, musket balls bearing the indentations of soldiers’ teeth, and other remarkable artifacts that paint a vivid picture of life during the American Revolution.

The Discovery

The discovery occurred during an archaeological dig required ahead of the construction of a proposed regional sports complex.  The planned footprint for the complex has since been shifted to preserve the roughly 3 to 4-acre barracks site.  Initial excavations last summer revealed chimney bases, a military buckle, and lead musket balls—chewed on by soldiers for their sweet taste.  These preliminary findings set the stage for what has become a significant archaeological endeavor.

1906 Williamsburg Virginia Williamsburg, VA, 1:62,500 quad, 1906, USGS

A Glimpse into the Past

Maps and documents from the Revolutionary War era reference a barracks built between 1776 and 1777 to house up to 2,000 soldiers and 100 horses of the Continental Army as they fought the British.  The barracks, believed to have been destroyed in 1781 by troops under British Gen.  Lord Charles Cornwallis, are now coming back to life through the diligent work of archaeologists.  This site is particularly valuable as it was used exclusively as a barracks, and a significant portion of the land has remained largely undisturbed, offering a pristine window into the past.

Artifacts of Note

Among the unearthed items are bits of pottery and jewelry, including cufflinks commonly worn by high-ranking officers.  These artifacts offer a tangible connection to the individuals who once lived and worked at the barracks, providing insights into their daily lives and personal belongings.  The discovery of these items underscores the importance of the site and its potential to enrich our understanding of the Revolutionary War era.

The Role of 3D Mapping

To fully appreciate the scale and significance of the site, advanced technology 3D mapping is available.  These maps offer a detailed and immersive view of the archaeological site, allowing historians, researchers, and the public to explore the layouts as it might have appeared during the Revolutionary War.  This cutting-edge technology not only aids in the preservation of the site but also enhances educational and interpretive efforts at Colonial Williamsburg.

Colonial Williamsburg: A Living History

Colonial Williamsburg is renowned for its dedication to preserving and interpreting the history of America’s colonial period.  With over 400 restored or reconstructed buildings, the museum brings the 18th century to life through its interpreters and immersive experiences. The discovery of the barracks site adds a new dimension to the story of Williamsburg’s military involvement in the American Revolution.  Visitors will soon have the opportunity to learn about the daily lives of soldiers and the strategic importance of Williamsburg during the war.

A 17th-Century Surprise

In addition to the Revolutionary War barracks, Colonial Williamsburg archaeologists have also unearthed a 17th-century house, complete with plaster, high-end ceramics, and a silver teaspoon handle.  This find predates the founding of Williamsburg and offers a rare glimpse into life in Virginia before the town’s establishment.

Looking Ahead

The excavation of the Revolutionary War barracks site is still in its early stages, with only a small percentage of the area having been explored.  As archaeologists continue their work, they anticipate uncovering more artifacts and structures that will further illuminate the history of Williamsburg and its role in the American Revolution.  The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation plans to use the site to enhance its storytelling, bringing to life the experiences of soldiers and the strategic importance of this historic location.


The discovery of the Revolutionary War barracks in Williamsburg is a monumental addition to our understanding of America’s fight for independence.  Through meticulous excavation and the use of advanced technologies like 3D mapping, this site will provide invaluable insights into the lives of the soldiers who once called it home.  As Colonial Williamsburg continues to uncover and interpret these historical treasures, visitors and historians alike will gain a deeper appreciation for the rich and complex history of this iconic American town.


Check out WhiteClouds’ 3D Maps for more information on 3D maps of Williamsburg Virginia.  

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