Important Notice: Werowocomoco remains closed to the public as planning efforts are ongoing. To receive updates on site planning, email Remi_Sarihan@nps.gov to sign up for our monthly newsletter. Learn more about ongoing planning efforts and policies.

Those looking to engage with American Indian history in Virginia have a number of options. The Gloucester County Visitor Center recently worked with NPS to open an exhibit on Werowocomoco. Machicomoco State Park is dedicated to interpreting Virginia's indigenous history, and hosts an annual Indigenous Peoples Day event each autumn. Local tribes also host their own museums and public events, including Powwows.

An artist's visualization of the town of Werowocomoco with people completing daily tasks and socializing.
An artist's conjectural visualization of the town at Werowocomoco based on archeological evidence and contemporary scholarship.

Werowocomoco: A Powhatan Place of Power


What is Werowocomoco?

Werowocomoco is an archeological site, the location of an important Indigenous town on the shores of what is now known as the York River. Evidence of human use of the area dates back some 6,000 to 8,000 years. The town itself - a place where people built homes, planted crops, and raised families - began to develop around the year 1200 AD. Archeological evidence suggests that Werowocomoco was not an ordinary town. In fact, Werowocomoco means “place of leadership" when translated from the Virginia Algonquian language. This was a place of politics, ceremony, and trade for the peoples of Tidewater Virginia, a region known as Tsenacomoco in Virginia Algonquian.

By the early 1600s, Werowocomoco was the home of Powhatan, a regional political and spiritual leader. His daughter, Pocahontas, spent her childhood at Werowocomoco. When English settlers arrived on these shores in 1607 and established the Jamestown settlement, it was here at Werowocomoco that Powhatan met with English leaders and conducted diplomacy.

What happened to Werowocomoco?

In 1609, Powhatan and his people relocated westward to the town of Orapax, near present-day Richmond, Virginia. This was a strategic move, made as Powhatan increased his efforts to push back against English encroachment. While nobody remained at Werowocomoco permanently, it is possible that the town's citizens returned periodically for brief visits. In the coming decades, the site was leased by colonists and eventually lost its association as a Native place.

Nearly 400 years later, in 2002, archeologists confirmed the site of of Werowocomoco. Maps, artifacts, and written accounts contributed to the site's recovery. Today, Werowocomoco is stewarded by the National Park Service in coordination with Tribal Nations who have historic connections to the site.


Learn About Werowocomoco

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    Aerial shot of Werowocomoco's marshes.
    Werowocomoco Planning

    Trail staff are working alongside Tribal Nations to steward this recently recovered site. Find updates on Werowocomoco's management here.


    Last updated: December 11, 2023

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