"A minion of the finest sorte"

Experts at the site of colonial Jamestown are trying to puzzle out the inscriptions on a slate tablet found at the bottom of the town's first well. Among drawings and other markings, the tablet is inscribed with the words "A minion of the finest sorte." (photo)

The tablet came from a well, unused after 1611, and includes "etchings of people, plants, and birds that its owner likely encountered in the New World in the early 1600s." Slate was often used, rather than expensive paper, to make notes in colonial Virginia.