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All the archaeological evidence from Cupids indicates an occupation continuing throughout the seventeenth-century. Some of our best evidence for this comes from the clay tobacco pipes found at the site. The English began smoking tobacco in the 1570s and from then until well into the nineteenth century most of their tobacco was smoked in clay pipes. Because these pipes were so fragile, we know that the amount of time between their manufacture, use and disposal was usually pretty short; and because their design changed so rapidly over time, we can date them with a considerable degree of accuracy.

Over 5000 clay pipe stems and 1000 clay pipe bowls and bowl fragments have been recovered from the Cupids site. In 2002 Barry Gaulton of Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Archaeology Unit conducted an analysis of 205 of the more complete pipe fragments. He found that 26 of them were made in the nineteenth-century; two in the eighteenth-century; and 11 in either the late seventeenth or eighteenth-century. The remaining 166 (81% of the total) consisted of a wide variety of types with date ranges of between 1590 and 1730. Six were “little ladell” pipes made in London sometime between 1590 and 1610, 16 were made between 1610 and 1640, 17 between 1620 and 1650, 27 between 1640 and 1660, 32 between 1660 and 1690, and 28 between 1680 and 1720. The origin of these pipes is also quite diverse and includes examples made in London, Bristol, Barnstaple, Bideford, Exeter, Plymouth, Brosley (in Shropshire), Holland, New England and Virginia.

Glass bottles are also a good source of evidence for dating. Like clay pipes (and just about everything else made by man), bottles change over time and these changes are excellent indicators of when the bottles were made and when the sites on which they are found were occupied. Case bottles were the first type of large glass bottle used by the English and the only type in use prior to 1645. After 1645 case bottles were gradually replaced by various globular, dark green forms. While case bottles are the only type of bottle found at the lowest levels at Cupids, a variety of later seventeenth-century types, ranging in date from the 1660s to 1700 or later, have also been recovered from the site.

Ceramics can also provide important evidence for dating a site. We have already mentioned some of the early ceramics found in the lower deposits at Cupids and how they have helped us to determine when the site was first occupied. Other ceramics found at the site clearly indicate an occupation extending into the late seventeen or early eighteenth-century. These include shards from several German made Westerwald jugs dating to between 1680 and 1710 and a complete Westerwald cup that was made sometime between 1690 and 1720.

Further proof of an ongoing occupation is provided by other artifacts. The coins recovered include a Louis XIII double tournois minted sometime between 1635 and 1640 and a Charles II silver half crown minted at the Tower Mint, London sometime between 1660 and 1662. An analysis of the copper artifacts from the site, including thimbles, buttons and buckles, also reveals a range of types spanning the entire seventeenth-century.


While the artifacts from a site can tell us a great deal about what took place there, they can tell us so much more when they are placed in their proper archaeological context. It is only when we know where each artifact was found in relation to the other artifacts and the structures and other features that we can begin to decipher the story of a site. This is why it is so important that the precise location of every artifact be recorded. When we place the artifacts from Cupids in their proper archaeological context a much clearer picture of seventeenth century Cupers Cove begins to emerge.

We know that the dwelling house, store house and some of the other buildings were destroyed by fire but it was the context of the artifacts found in association with these buildings that told us that the fire must have taken place sometime in the 1660s. Most of the artifacts associated with these buildings date to the first half of the seventeenth-century and it might seem logical to assume that the fire took place sometime during this period were it not for the presence of a few objects that showed they were still in use at a somewhat later date . These include the 1660 to 1662 Charles II silver half crown mentioned above, found among the burnt timbers at the north end of the dwelling house; a mid-seventeenth-century German bellarmine found broken on the wooden floor in front of the fireplace; and a clay tobacco pipe with the makers’ mark ‘IA’ on its heel, found resting on the flagstones and beneath a burnt timber at the north end of the house. The pipe was probably the work of Bristol pipe maker John Abbot who was active between 1651 and 1681. Taken on its own, this pipe might suggest that the dwelling house could still have been standing as late as 1681 but, given that no other artifacts dating from later than the 1660's were found in association with it, it seems most likely that the pipe also dates to this earlier period. This is supported by other evidence.

After the fire, the exposed cellar pit became a convenient place to dump refuse and among the things tossed into it were fragments of a number of seventeenth century bottles. The earliest of these was made sometime between 1660 and 1675 indicating that the buildings were probably down and the pit open by at least the latter date. The distribution of clay tobacco pipes over the site allowed us to narrow down the date of the fire even more. When we plot the location of these pipes on a map of the site we find that almost all the ones made in 1665 or before came from around the dwelling house and store house while most of those made after 1665 came from elsewhere on the site. The few later pipes that were found around the dwelling house and store house came from deposits that had built up after the fire and obviously post-dated that event. Clearly, there was a move away from these buildings after the fire and that move seems to have taken place sometime around 1665.

While the fire of the 1660s must have caused considerable disruption at Cupers Cove, it is clear that the plantation was not abandoned. As we have already seen, there is substantial physical evidence to show that the site continued to be occupied until at least the last years of the seventeenth-century. Indeed, some of the artifacts recovered could date to as late as 1730 although other evidence, or more precisely the lack thereof, points to the occupation ending sometime around 1700. Totally absent from the site are any examples of ceramics that would suggest a presence at the site extending much beyond 1710 and those few artifacts that could date to as late as 1730 could just as easily have been made in the 1690s.

  Whenever the site was abandoned, it seems clear that Cupers Cove met a violent end. The north end of the site was littered with rubble that must have accumulated when a structure built at least partially of stone was destroyed and the presence of several cannon balls in this rubble, including one that was split in half, suggests that this destruction was intentional. Given the date range for the end of the occupation, one cannot help but wonder if it might not have been the work of the French during either King William’s War (1689-1697) or Queen Anne’s War (1701-1713). If Cuper’s Cove was still occupied at the time of D’Iberville’s infamous raid during the winter of 1696-1697, it would almost certainly have suffered the same fate as all the other settlements on the English Shore. While Cupids is not mentioned in any of the known documents related to that campaign, there may be an explanation for this.

In January 1697, the French bypassed the north side of Conception Bay between Harbour Main and Port de Grave and were initially content to have the “principle men” of Brigus come to them at Carbonear and surrender their weapons. It was not until 11 February that D’Iberville dispatched a force of 47 men from Carbonear to burn “porte grave, briges et autres habitations” in the area. Perhaps Cupers Cove was one of these other “habitations”. If only a few people lived there at the time, it may not have been considered worthy of special mention or may simply have been thought of as an extension of Brigus. On the other hand, Cupids may have been deserted prior to D’Iberville’s campaign in which case the French may simply have destroyed the already abandoned buildings.

Images (left to right, top to bottom) 1. Mapping the north end of the dwelling house, October 2, 1997. 2. A “little ladell” clay pipe made in London between 1590 and 1610. 3. Clay pipe made in London or Bristol, 1620-1640. 4. Clay pipe, possibly Bristol, 1640-1660. Found by Garland Baker. 5. Clay pipe made in either London or the West Country, 1660-1680. 6. Clay pipe made in the West Country (probably Devon), 1680-1720. 7. Case bottle neck and shoulder fragments. The one on the left was found just west of the dwelling house; the one on the right was found in the fireplace inside the dwelling house. 8. Late seventeenth-century bottle fragments. 9. German manufactured Westerwald jug fragment, circa 1680-1710. 10.‘IA’ makers’ mark from a clay pipe found broken on the flagstones at the north end of the dwelling house. It was probably made by Bristol pipe maker John Abbot who was active between 1651 and 1681. 11. Louis XIII double tournois, 1635-1640. 12. Charles II silver half crown found among the burnt timbers at the north end of the dwelling house, 1660-1662. 13. Early seventeenth-century tailors’ thimble. 14. Mid seventeenth-century thimble with linen attached. 15. Copper button, 1600-1650. 16. Belt buckle, 1600 -1650. 17. Shoe buckle, 1680-1720. 18. Burnt floor joists at the north end of the dwelling house. 19. Partially reconstructed window from Structure 5, burnt during the 1660s fire. 20. Mid seventeenth-century German bellarmine found broken on the wooden floor inside the dwelling house. 21. German manufactured Westerwald cup, 1690-1720. 22. This rubble at the north end of the site seems to have been deposited when a structure was destroyed sometime around 1700.