From Instagram: Triton Brook Beothuk ancestors & Dorset

Most people in Newfoundland and Labrador do not realize just how long the Beothuk lived in the province; their ancestors first arrived on the Island around 1500 years ago. The photo below shows a selection of chert (stone) arrowheads made by Beothuk ancestors around 1000 years ago. They were found by Dr. Schwarz in the late 1980s at the Triton Brook 1 site on the south shore of Gambo Pond in eastern Newfoundland. This site was the largest and most productive of the sites excavated on Gambo Pond. The site also contained a Dorset Pre-Inuit component. There were at least two hearth (fireplace)/midden (refuse dump) features that contained charcoal, firecracked rock, bone, and calcined (burned) bone fragments, as well as chipped stone flakes and artifacts.

At the Beothuk archaeological site of Boyd’s Cove (and several other sites on the island), arrowheads similar to these have been found below archaeological layers that contain both European goods modified by the Beothuk and the same types of arrowheads, thus showing that the users of the stone tools were Beothuk ancestors.

To learn more about the Beothuk you can visit the Beothuk Interpretation Centre at Boyd’s Cove.

In November of 2020 we wrote another post explaining how there is evidence for an unbroken occupation of the island of Newfoundland by the Beothuk and their ancestors entitled ‘Unbroken – nearly 1500 years of Beothuk

Triton Brook 1 Beothuk ancestor chert (stone) arrowheads

Below are two Dorset Pre-Inuit tools from the west coast of the island of Newfoundland. The first is a chipped chert harpoon endblade, it was literally the end of the harpoon used to hunt sea mammals. The other is a ground slate tool which would have been hafted in a handle and used for cutting and engraving lines in soft material such as wood, bone or antler. The Dorset existed in the Province from ~2500 years ago to just after 1000 years ago.

Dorset Pre-Inuit endblade for a harpoon.
Dorset Pre-Inuit burin like tool. True burins are chipped but the Dorset made them by grinding slate.

8 thoughts on “From Instagram: Triton Brook Beothuk ancestors & Dorset

  1. The study by Duggen et Al indicated that the Beothuck occupation may not have been continuous, or at least not without interruptions; possibly desease related population of interruption.

      1. It would be likely impossible that a total discontinuity occurred, as small pockets of population may have survived;

        It does say there was discontinuity, and some of it was around 1400; maternal discontinuity.

        d 74 complete mitochondrial genomes from ancient
        populations in eastern North America
        d No evidence of maternal genetic continuity over 8,000 years
        d Eastern Canada (Newfoundland and Labrador) settled by
        multiple independent arrivals

        It was written by geneticists, mostly, but actually references anthropologists, and archaeologists, including MUN’s, including I. Marshall, R. Pastore, and Jim Tulk.

        Thank you, again.

      2. Hi
        I am searching a PDF of the article including the supplemental data for words you mentioned in this comment and the previous one.

        There is no reference to disease causing discontinuity. In fact the only reference to disease is in the title of one of the authors names and in reference to one of the Maritime Archaic having Histiocytosis X.

        The word discontinuity is in the title and on the first and third pages where they state there is evidence for the genetic discontinuity between the maternal lineages of MAI and Beothuk, which is the basis for the entire article. This is not fifteenth century discontinuity, the Archaic are gone from the island and the archaeological record more than 3000 years ago.

        I’ve searched the article for the word fifth and the number 14 as in fifteenth century, the time you are referencing and found nothing of note.

        In the entire article I see nothing suggesting discontinuity in the fifteenth century caused by disease. Truthfully, I am doing all this while in lockdown from home, less than ideal circumstances, so perhaps I am missing something. What are you seeing in the article that suggests discontinuity in the fifteenth century caused by disease?

        All of that aside, there is plenty of evidence for continuity within the time of the Beothuk on the island, from about 1500 years ago. Archaeologically there is a clear and slow transition from early Beothuk ancestors to later Beothuk ancestors to the Beothuk themselves. There is no evidence for a disease outbreak in the 15th C and no evidence for the introduction of a new culture at that time. Either of those events would show up in the archaeological record.
        If you want to learn more about that unbroken 1500 year period you can look at

  2. … disease related population interruption.
    ( that should be).
    As I understood it, I should say.
    Great article; thank you.

  3. Hi
    I’m a former Newfoundlander now residing in Dartmouth Nova Scotia
    My family and I have been metal detecting for over 50 years in NL. ( yes I know that the words metal detector bring a bad taste to the mouth of any professional archaeologist ) but there is one site that we discovered that may be of some value to you. I did try years ago to contact people by email at the NL. museum and archaeologists to inform them about our discovery. Maybe the reason no one has contacted ne is that you are aware of this site but no one has replied to me to that fact.
    The area is located up in the south side hills overlooking St. Johns,. there is an outpost or fort on a hill in the interior of this area that faces towards Petty Harbor. I tracked down the site from local knowledge that some people told me about, a place they would go swimming and where they would dive of a canon located in the middle of the water in their swimming hole that they would dive off. The story intrigued me and after a few trips to the area we discovered the location and recovered some large and small cannon balls on top of the hill, we did not find any of the cannons must they must be in the water. When I did some research about why this fort could be there, my conclusion was that it was built there in the 1700s to deter the French from marching in and attacking St. Johns again. I believe the french generals name was Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville,
    Let me know if this is of interest to anyone, I fear that when I’m gone this discovery may die with me.
    Stay Safe

    1. Hello Mr. Young
      Thanks for reaching out with regard to the site. From your description I believe you are referencing a known 18th century site named Hay’s battery in the Petty Harbour Long Pond area. Does that sound correct?
      If it’s the same site two archaeologists have visited it, the first in the 70s the second in the 90s and both described it as being in bad shape because of looting and unauthorized test pitting, so much so that it is almost unworthy of further research (Hence the reason the words metal detector bring a bad taste to the mouth of any professional archaeologist).
      Are you and your family still metal detecting? Are you aware of any other site that may be of interest to us?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s