Katalisk: Bridgett Downey’s Garden

In 1993 and 1994, archaeologist Gerald Penney carried out archaeological surveys of the southwest coast of the island of Newfoundland and Labrador and called it the Katalisk Archaeological Survey. The 1993 survey had three objectives;

  • to identify archaeological sites in Grand Codroy and Little Codroy River valleys;
  • to instruct Indigenous post-secondary students in archaeological field survey methods; and,
  • to raise community awareness of archaeology and Canada’s cultural heritage.
The Katalisk survey area (Penney 1994).

The Katalisk survey resulted in the discovery of 18 new archaeological sites. Twelve of those sites had only a European occupation, two of them had only a Dorset occupation, and three had evidence of a Recent period Indigenous occupation (~2000 years ago up to European contact). One of the latter also had evidence for European occupation. Archaeological sites can have more than one cultural occupation.

Red dots are archaeology sites found during the Katalisk survey. Bridgett Downey’s Garden is the green star.

One of the 18th & 19th-century European sites was found on the north side of the Grand Codroy River in Great Codroy. Penney named the site Bridgett Downey’s Garden. They dug 13 shovel test pits in a terrace west of the property, north of the riverbank. The test pits produced a wide array of more than 230 artifacts including refined earthenware, coarse earthenware, refined stoneware, coarse stoneware, porcelain, glass, kaolin pipe, brick, a metal fork, and animal bones & teeth. Among the more interesting, but not particularly unusual, artifacts were a white glass button, one black glass oval bead, two West Country yellow glaze coarse earthenware fragments, and another coarse stoneware fragment that was inscribed with ‘St. Jo[hn’s]’.

Blue feather painted pearlware.
Stoneware jug fragment.
A complete example of a stoneware jug impressed with the words “JD RYAN/ ST. JOHN’S.” Wicks 2002

The blue feather painted pearlware usually has a date range of the late 18th to the mid 19th century. Assuming that southwestern Newfoundland was not the first destination of a newly released ceramic style it is more likely that these pearlware plate fragments date to the mid 19th century. The coarse stoneware fragment that was inscribed with ‘St. Jo[hn’s]’ is described by Wicks as stoneware jug impressed with the words “JD RYAN/ ST. JOHN’S.” Honey top, beige body, dating approximately to the 1890s. Given that age, this portion of the site has to date to the late 19th century.

Interestingly, Penney also found a stone foundation that measured 2.7 m x 4.45 m on the site that he identified as the remains of a root cellar. Unrelated to that, he also noted that winterhouses, which he suspected to be in Bridgett Downey’s Garden, are shown on an 18th century Captian James Cook chart.  A number of artifacts dating to the 18th century, including some of the coarse earthenware, stoneware, and creamware fragments do support an older occupation at the site.

Penney, Gerald
1994  Preliminary Report Katalisk Archaeological Survey 1993. 

1995  Preliminary Report Katalisk Archaeological Survey 1994.

Wicks, John
2002 Newfoundland Bottles & Stoneware 1660-1970.

6 thoughts on “Katalisk: Bridgett Downey’s Garden

    1. What kind of info? The sites were all recognized as typical of material found in this province. I’ll see if I can get some photos.

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