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Date: Sep. 10th '09
The wooden walkway under construction at the Cupids Site, Sept. 10, 2009 .
September 14, 2009 11:30 a.m.

Wooden Walkway Extended around the Cupids Cove Plantation Site

In the fall of 2007 a four-foot wide walkway of pressure treated board was erected along the eastern and southern sides of the Cupids archaeological site. Over the past two weeks the crew has been busy extending this walkway so that it now runs from the site entrance, up the terrace, and around the entire site, greatly facilitating visitor access. This current phase of construction, which was completed this past Friday (September 11), is part of ongoing development work which will see a number of improvements to the site prior to its opening for the 400 anniversary celebrations in 2010.

The weather isn’t good today - high winds and rain - but the forecast for tomorrow is much better and the crew will be back digging. One of our main goals this season is to see if we can find the western wall of the enclosure erected by John Guy’s men in the fall of 1610.

This year we plan to continue digging until November 6, if the weather permits, and site development work is scheduled to continue until mid-December. The site will remain open to visitors this year seven days a week until October 8 and we invite you to drop by for a tour.

Date: Jul. 23rd '09
Sean Street (right) and Julian May recording on Dildo Island. July 13, 2009
July 23, 2009 10:00 a.m.

BBC Radio 3 to Present Documentary on Cupids Cove Colony

BBC Radio 3 will be presenting a documentary on the establishment of the first English colony in Canada at Cupids early in 2010. Sean Street, Director of the Centre for Broadcasting History Research at Bournemouth University in Dorset, England, and Julian May, Senior Producer for BBC Radio Documentaries, were in Newfoundland between July 11 and July 15 recording interviews for the program. In addition to spending time in Cupids, Sean and Julian sailed from Hopeall into Dildo Arm retracing part of the route followed by John Guy and his men in October 1612 and visited Harbour Grace and Carbonear.

The program, tentatively titled “At Cupids Cove”, is scheduled to air on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday January 17 at 9:30pm GMT (6pm Newfoundland Standard Time) as part of an ongoing series called “The Sunday Feature”. “At Cupids Cove” will tell the story of Canada’s first English settlement and how archaeological excavations and documentary research conducted over the past fifteen years have added to our understanding of that story. It will also attempt to place the story of Cupids Cove in a broader historical context by looking at the colonists’ attempts to establish friendly relations with the Beothuk and some of the other early settlements that have direct links to the Cupids Cove Plantation. The team hopes that the documentary will increase awareness in Britain of what went on in Cupids, “because”, says Julian, “this is British as well as Canadian history.”

Date: Jul. 3rd '09
Excavating the Recent Indian Hearth in Area E on Dildo Island

July 3, 2009 9:30 a.m.

Baccalieu Trail Archaeology 2009 Field Season Well Underway

Field work this year got underway on May 11. Since then the crew has spent four weeks digging at the Hefford Plantation in New Perlican and a week uncovering the Cupids Cove Plantation Site and preparing it for visitors. On June 18 we began work in Area E on Dildo Island, excavating a Recent Indian Heath that we discovered last year and on June 25 part of the crew began excavations at Cupids. Currently most of the crew is working at Cupids while a few people remain on Dildo Island to finish up work on the hearth.

Work on Dildo Island will be finished by the middle of next week (July 8) and the entire crew will move on to Cupids where excavations will continue until late October. We’re expecting a busy season with lots of exciting discoveries. The site at Cupids opened to visitors this year on June 8 and will remain open seven days a week until October 9. For more information on visiting hours check out Visitor Information.

Date: Nov. 10th '08
Guy not Gosnold: a correction
November 10, 2008
“Guy Not Gosnold: a correction”

Many people are familiar with the early seventeenth-century engraving that depicts John Guy’s party trading with Beothuk in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland in 1612. However, some people may not be aware that, outside of Canada, this image is often presented as depicting Bartholomew Gosnold trading with Native Americans in New England in 1602.

Volume 41, number 2 of the journal Post-Medieval Archaeology includes a paper by Bill Gilbert that addresses this issue and attempts to place the image in its proper historical and historiographical context. You can read a pdf version of this paper by clicking here. Click here to find out more about the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology.

Date: Mar. 7th '08
Exposing Wood in Structure 2, Oct. 2007
March 7, 2008. 1:35 p.m.
Wood Samples from Cupids

During our excavations at Cupids in 2007, we recovered a number of samples of decayed wood from Structure 2 located three feet south of the dwelling house. Some of these came from a timber that appears to have been part of the north wall of the building, others were taken from the remains of a timber found inside the building and running parallel to its long axis.

Three of the best preserved samples - two from the north wall and one from inside - were taken to Peter Scott at Memorial University’s Biology Department for analysis. Dr Scott has concluded that the samples “are all spruce (Picea)”. This is the second time that Dr. Scott has analyzed wood recovered from the Cupids site. In 1996 he examined a wood sample from a post found inside the dwelling house and determined that it also was spruce.

In 1996 we recovered literally hundreds of charred coniferous needles from the fireplace inside the dwelling house that appear to have been deposited during the last fire lit in that building before it burned down in the 1660s. An analysis by Mike Deal at Memorial University’s Archaeology Unit revealed these needles to be mostly spruce along with a few fir needles.

In his first letters, written in 1610 and 1611, John Guy reports that there were spruce, fir, pine and birch trees at Cupids at that time. One of the colonists’ first tasks when they arrived was to cut a load of “trees and spars” that was shipped back to England aboard the Fleming in October 1610. In the same vessel, Guy also sent samples of the “turpentine that cometh from the fir and pine and frankincense of the spruce...”.

Over the winter of 1610/1611 the colonists experimented with making charcoal from the different types of wood available to them and in May 1611 Guy shipped back three hogsheads of this charcoal: the first made from “burch”, the second from”pine and spruce”, and the third from “firre, being the lightest wood”, says Guy, “ yet it maketh good coles, and is used by our Smith.” Palaeoethnobotanical evidence recovered to date from the Cupids site suggests that, of the four main species available to the colonists, spruce was probably the most common and appears to have been the one most often used in construction.