Fort Christanna was a colonial fort laid out in 1714 by Virginia’s Governor Alexander Spotswood. The fort was built on a tract of land set aside in 1714 for a trading post, as well as a site for rangers to patrol the area and keep peace, and as a home for the Saponie (the most common spelling at that time) people. Spotswood named the fort “Christ-Anna” for his religion and his queen.
The area that is now Brunswick County was then at the frontier of European expansion with settlers looking for new land. In 1714 Governor Spotswood, concerned with the protection of those pioneers as well as to the profits to be gained in the fur trade, received a charter from the General Assembly to build a fort in the wilderness on the Meherrin River.
He established the Virginia Indian Company to do so. In addition, Spotswood gathered the remnants of the Saponie tribes in a place of safety, as they had been driven from their homeland by settlers and badly harassed by Iroquoian tribes.
Life was busy at the fort. Rangers rode out dads on circuits of the territory. Native Americans came in to trade their pelts, and for a while a school operated within the fort for Indian children. This activity slowed when the charter for the Indian Company was rescinded.
By 1718 the school was closed and the funding for the rangers ended. Trade continued until 1722, and although some of the Saponie joined other tribes, some remained at the fort years afterward.