Have you seen the National Geographic series “Diggers”? The series features two guys who go around the world searching for unique artifacts. A recent episode was set in Virginia’s Northern Neck as the guys accompanied by an archaeologist went on a hunt for artifacts from Captain John Smith’s time and travels. Captain John Smith wrote in his journal details of his expedition mapping out the Chesapeake Bay region and up the Rappahannock River. The Diggers followed this trail, starting at Tangier Island and continuing up the river to Ingleside Vineyards and Leedstown.
In my opinion, the show was “meh” but I was so excited for their explorations and attention to this region of Virginia. Starting in Tangier Island, the diggers searched for clues from Captain John Smith’s journeys but did not stay long here. Tangier Island is a historic island off of Virginia’s Northern Neck. As one of a group of islands in the Chesapeake Bay, it was believed to be traveled by Captain John Smith during his exploration of the region. The island’s history continued through maritime travels with marks left from pre-Revolution through the War of 1812 and beyond. Today, the island is a popular destination for fishing and a relaxing weekend escape to a bed and breakfast.
After leaving Tangier Island, the diggers went up to one of my new favorite Virginia wineries, Ingleside. Ingleside Vineyards is another destination in Virginia’s Northern Neck that is both rich in history and features great wines. The lands around the vineyards and winery were traveled by Native Americans, as well as Captain John Smith, founding fathers, Civil War soldiers, and many others who have left their mark through history. The museum at the winery tells the story of many of those who lived on and traveled through the lands — it is worth a visit (and a tasting)! (You can find my earlier review of Ingleside Vineyards here)
After leaving Ingleside, the diggers continued down the road to Leedstown where they continued their search for artifacts from Captain John Smith’s explorations. Leedstown is another area (like the rest of the Northern Neck) rich in early American history. Not only was the region traveled by Captain John Smith, but it was the site of where one of the first acts of resistance against the British leading up to the American Revolution took place. At Leedstown, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Richard Henry Lee, and other Lee brothers, Washington brothers, and many other prominent families from the region came together to sign the Leedstown Resolves (also known as the Westmoreland Resolves) against the Stamp taxes of the British.
While on property between Ingleside and Leedstown, the diggers came across a number of different artifacts they believed ranged from as early as the 17th century through modern day. Artifacts included a cannon ball, coins, nails, and more. (I do not want to list them all so any surprises are not ruined!) While the acting behind the show felt staged, the history given of the region being explored and an insight on the artifacts discovered were really cool. It was fun to travel with the diggers to areas I am familiar with in a region of Virginia I love (and to a winery I love!)
You can learn more about Captain John Smith’s Chesapeake Bay travels through the National Park Service website. More information on this episode of “Diggers” can be found through National Geographic: “Captain John Smith’s Virginia Nectar.”
If you have seen the episode, I would love to hear your thoughts and favorite artifacts discovered!