WILLIAMSBURG, Va., July 22, 2010 – Ever spin a whirligig on a string or hear the sound of a rommel pot play? “Pastimes of Colonial Virginia” – games, storytelling and other amusements of the 17th and 18th centuries – will be the focus of interpretive programs at Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center living-history museums throughout the month of August.
At Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia history and culture, historical interpreters will engage visitors in a variety of games and activities used by early Virginians not only to pass the time but develop important skills. In the re-created Powhatan Indian village, visitors can test their aim by pitching corncob darts through hoops. On board one of three replica ships, historical interpreters will discuss how America’s first permanent English colonists played games of draughts, or checkers, and wooden dice to amuse themselves on the 1607 voyage to Virginia, and visitors may try their hand at knotwork. At the riverfront discovery area, where interpreters discuss 17th-century water travel, commerce and cultural exchange, visitors can learn about and play the traditional African game mancala. In the re-created 1610-14 colonial fort, visitors can ride wooden hobby horses, roll a hoop with a stick, and play ninepins, a bowling game, and quoits, a type of ring toss. Orientation tours of the four outdoor interpretive areas begin daily at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m.
At the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, visitors to the re-created Continental Army encampment can learn how soldiers used board games such as nine-men’s morris, cards and dice for entertainment during the war. Visitors also can learn how to play “shut the box,” a counting game. At the re-created 1780s farm, visitors can spin whirligigs on a string, try to scoop a ball into a cup, roll a hoop with a stick, jump rope, and play trap ball and the game of “Graces,” in which players toss a ribboned hoop to one another using sticks. Throughout the day, historical interpreters in the farm also will recount Aesop’s Fables, popular children’s literature in the mid-1700s.
The two history museums feature extensive gallery exhibits that tell the story of America’s beginnings. At Jamestown Settlement, gallery exhibits describe traditional recreation and art of the Powhatan Indian, English and west central African cultures that converged in 1600s Virginia. An exhibit about children’s education and play compares examples of 17th-century and modern toys. Among the artifacts in the Yorktown Victory Center’s Witness to Revolution Gallery, is a circa-1775 British game box used to play 18th-century card games of quadrille and ombre.
Many of the activities and games, including corn cob darts, nine-men’s morris, ninepins and mancala, are available for purchase in the Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center gift shops.
Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, and until 6 p.m. through August 15. A value-priced combination ticket to both museums is $19.25 for adults and $9.25 for ages 6 through 12. Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $14.00 for adults, $6.50 for ages 6-12; and to the Yorktown Victory Center, $9.50 adults and $5.25 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 are admitted free. Parking is free. A variety of package and ticket options are available with Williamsburg area attractions. “Pastimes of Colonial Virginia” is funded in part by the York County Arts Commission.
Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center are separated by a 25-minute drive along the Colonial Parkway. Jamestown Settlement is located on State Route 31 just southwest of Williamsburg. The Yorktown Victory Center is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free, (757) 253-4838 or visit www.historyisfun.org.