HISTORY OF THE DIG

Nowhere did the numbers of seventeenth-century ceramics, tobacco pipes and other objects approach those that littered the shores of The Pool and every builder’s trench and garden.

Dr. James A. Tuck, 1996.

From local residents finding artifacts on the beach, to the discovery of a silver snuff spoon with the engraved initials S.K. in the late 1800s, to today’s professional excavations…. Archaeological discoveries of one sort or another have taken place in Ferryland for centuries.

Prior to the start of major archaeological excavations by Dr. James Tuck and his team in 1992, a number of successful small excavations had been conducted around The Pool (Ferryland’s inner harbour). Test pits were dug in the 1930s by Dr. Brooks, an entomologist or “bug doctor” from Baltimore, Maryland and in the 1950s by J.R. Harper, for the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. In 1968, a more serious test excavation was conducted by Memorial University of Newfoundland. It revealed a slate drain and many seventeenth-century artifacts.

Additional text digs were carried out in the 1970s, but then, in the 1980s, a three-year excavation was
mounted at four sites. The results of these and subsequent excavations confirmed three things. First, that the location of Calvert’s Colony of Avalon was indeed around The Pool. Second, that the Colony was better preserved than anyone could have hoped for. And third, that the site was deeper, richer and more complex than anyone imagined.

2016 marks the 25th consecutive season of professional archaeological investigation at the Colony of Avalon. Now under the direction of Memorial University’s Dr. Barry Gaulton, ongoing excavations have
revealed the locations and designs of many original structures including the Mansion House, forge, brewery and bakehouse, stores, well, seawalls and a sea-flushed privy; uncovered an impressive stretch of cobblestone road; and unearthed more than two million seventeenth-century artifacts. Pretty impressive considering archaeologists have uncovered just 35% of Calvert’s original four-acre site.

mansion house 2007

Figure 3 2008 report