Showing posts with label archaeology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label archaeology. Show all posts

Friday, July 2, 2021

Living Heritage Podcast Ep206 Cemetery Clean Up Tips and Tricks, with Andrea O'Brien and Robyn Lacy

Often well-meaning people clean or “restore” old gravestones in ways that actually damage them or hasten their deterioration by using the wrong methods. In this episode of the podcast we talk with Andrea O’Brien and Robyn Lacy about some tips and tricks for cemetery cleanups including headstone cleaning and repairs. We also learn more about the work happening in the Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Cape Broyle including some stories of local characters buried in the cemetery.

Andrea O’Brien is Heritage NL’s Municipal Outreach Officer and Provincial Registrar. A graduate of Memorial University, she has a BA focusing on folklore, history, Newfoundland Studies, and English, a Bachelor of Education, and an MA in folklore. She serves as Heritage NL’s Register of Historic Places, Municipal Outreach Officer, Heritage Places Poster Contest coordinator, Historic Commemorations Program coordinator, and web manager.

Robyn Lacy is a PhD student in Historical Archaeology at Memorial University, studying 17th century burial landscapes in North America. She is also co-director of Black Cat Cemetery Preservation which specializes in historic gravestone and monument conservation and restoration in Canada. Wife and husband team Robyn Lacy and Ian Petty, have a combined 20 years of experience in the heritage sector as archaeologists, gravestone conservators, and cultural heritage technicians.


Check out our two upcoming cemetery workshops: Headstones Cleaning and Basic TLC for Old Headstones. These workshops are offered by Heritage NL with support of the Labour Market Partnerships program, Department of Immigration, Skills and Labour, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.


Living Heritage is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the community level. The show is a partnership between HeritageNL and CHMR Radio.

Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.

Monday, November 30, 2020

New Research into the mystery cannon of Harbour Main.

At a recent meeting of the Town of Harbour Main-Chapel’s Cove-Lakeview Heritage Committee, it was decided to investigate a local cannon on top of a hill whose origins, despite being a local landmark, are unclear.
Photo: Catherine Ann Kelly of Harbour Main (left), and
Maryssa Barras from HeritageNL (right) inspect the cannon, 25 November 2020

In order to find the story behind the cannon, we first need to figure out what type of cannon it is and when it dates to. By measuring key parts of the cannon and taking photos of visible features on the cannon we were able to compare our cannon with others to determine its calibre and likely dates of use.

There are a few key features that helped guide us in identifying the cannon. First, the cannon measures approximately 230cm, or 7½ft, long and the bore (the tube for the cannonball) measures 11cm, or 4.3in, in diameter. Based on these dimensions we can determine that this cannon is likely a 9lb gun - with 9lb referring to the caliber of the cannonballs it would have shot. 
Photo: A close-up image of a broken trunnion on the cannon,
as well as the chase astragal, the iron band to the right of the photo.

In terms of shape, the cannon has a tulip-shaped muzzle and a spherical button at its breech (back) end. Spaced across the cannon as well are raised bumps, called reinforce rings. Notably, this cannon has an extra ring in its center called a chase astragal which largely fell out of use after circa 1810. Based on these, and other, details, we believe the Harbour Main cannon is most likely an  Armstrong-Frederick pattern cannon, which was the primary British model produced between 1760/4 and 1792. This means the cannon was likely produced sometime in that time period, and that its arrival in Harbour Main must date to after 1760-1764.

Photo: Diagram of Armstrong Pattern 9 lb gun of 7 1/2 feet,
courtesy of Dr. A.R. Collins.

Heritage NL is following up with these findings with the Town of Harbour Main-Chapel’s Cove-Lakeview Heritage Committee. We'll post more info as the story unfolds. The cannon is an archaeological object as defined under the Historic Resources Act, and so the Province has title to it as per section 11 of the Act. 

UPDATE: 1 December 2020

Our preliminary report on the Harbour Main cannon site is now up online! We've tentatively dated the cannon to the early 1760s. Read more at:


Monday, December 10, 2018

Bauline Burial Ground

Group in the unmarked cemetery.
On Thursday Dale and I met with three archaeologists from Memorial University, and three residents of Bauline to discuss the possibility of completing a project in an abandoned cemetery in the community. The unmarked cemetery is an old Methodist burying ground which predates the old United Church cemetery in the community.

Measuring out the cemetery. The rock walls delineating the cemetery can be seen in the foreground.
We met beside the United Church and walked down to the site which is on an incline and is only marked by a short rock wall. One of the residents pointed out two rocks which he was told by an older community member was the entrance to the graveyard.

Reviewing the church floor plans.
After a trip through the graveyard and a discussion of what the next steps were we visited the United Church building. The church is due to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020. Dale is completing some research on the history of the church itself and we were able to find some floor plans of some alterations done in the 1980s.

Undenominational Cemetery. 1925.
Once we finished exploring the church we took a quick detour on the way back to town to visit an undenominational graveyard where several goldpreachers or coonies are buried. We are also interested in learning more about this religion and are looking into where else there were goldpreachers practicing in Newfoundland and Labrador.

One of three marked stones in the undenominational graveyard.
Several unmarked stones are also located in the small graveyard.
Stay tuned for more updates on the church and the graveyard! But in the meantime if you have any information about either please reach out to Dale Jarvis at 739-1892 ex. 2 or

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Living Heritage Podcast Ep082 Aviation Archaeology

Dr. Lisa Daly has been working in the heritage sector since 2001, first with the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador, then Parks Canada, and now as a tour guide and museum coordinator. She holds a B.A. in archaeology from MUN, a M.Sc. in forensic and biological anthropology from Bournemouth University, and holds her Ph.D. in archaeology from MUN. Her study focus is aviation in Newfoundland and Labrador. Up to now, most of her academic work has focused on World War II aviation in Gander, Goose Bay and Stephenville, but she has also done some work on pre- and post-war aviation history in the province.

In this podcast, we talk about how Lisa got her start as the Plane Crash Girl, consider the many “firsts” of Newfoundland aviation history, and discuss the condition and appropriate stewardship of plane crash sites. We also chat about the flights of the Hindenburg over Newfoundland, and reflect on recent theories surrounding the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Follow her work on Twitter @planecrashgirl or her blog,

Listen on the Digital Archive:

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Living Heritage Podcast Ep077 Headstones, Hexfoils, and Historic Archaeology

Robyn Lacy is a 2nd year Masters student in the Archaeology Department at MUN, and completed her BA in Archaeology at the University of Calgary in 2014. Her research focuses on historic archaeology in Newfoundland and New England, exploring burial landscapes and their relationship to 17th-century settlements. This summer she will be excavating at Ferryland for four weeks in search of the early burial ground at the Colony of Avalon. She writes about her fascination with burial landscapes, tombstones, and more, on her blog "Spade and the Grave - death and burial through an archaeological lens."

In this podcast, Robyn talks about how she got interested in historical archaeology and the archaeology of burial places, burial landscapes, her work searching out Ferryland’s hidden graveyard, the folklore of hexfoils, and public archaeology.  Don't know what a hexfoil is? Tune in and find out! We'll send you on a hunt for one hidden somewhere fairly public in downtown St. John's.

Listen on the Digital Archive:

Photo: 1699 gravestone with pinwheel design on the finial. Design in the Hartshorne tradition, New London, CT. Photo by R Lacy, 2015.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Youth Heritage Forum 2015 Guest Speaker - Lisa M. Daly

With the Youth Heritage Forum just weeks away it's time we get to know a bit about our guest speakers! We'll be profiling one of our youth speakers each week leading up to the forum, and to get the gears turning I asked each of them why are you passionate about heritage? 

Guest Speaker: Lisa M. Daly

Lisa M. Daly has been working in the heritage sector since 2001, first with the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador, then Parks Canada, and now as a tour guide, both independent and with Wildland Tours. She holds a B.A. in archaeology from MUN, a M.Sc. in forensic and biological anthropology from Bournemouth University, and is in the process of completing a Ph.D. in archaeology from MUN. Her study focus is aviation in Newfoundland and Labrador. Up to now, most of her academic work has focused on World War II aviation in Gander, Goose Bay and Stephenville, but she has also done some work on pre- and post-war aviation history in the province. She is also collecting stories and images of the Hindenburg as it flew over Newfoundland. In her free time, she loves to explore the beauty and culture of the province. Follow her work on Twitter, @planecrashgirl, or her blog,

Why are you passionate about heritage?
I am passionate about heritage because it is who we are. Our culture, history, landscape, etc. it all shapes us as individuals and as a people. Exploring heritage allows us to learn about ourselves and our neighbours, and gives us the opportunity to bring new people into that culture. Wherever I go, I  try to imerse myself in a community as best I can, and I try to give that experience to visitors as a tour guide. The challenge is to do that when exploring on a tour bus. As an archaeologist, I am fortunate to get to talk to people about the history and stories of an area. Sometimes what I find in the material culture doesn't agree with those stories, but it certainly leads to great discussion and doesn't take away from the importance of those stories to the community.

Want to hear more from Lisa? Join us for Youth Heritage Forum 2015!

Registration forms can be downloaded here
Keep up to date, join our Youth Heritage Forum Facebook Event!

For more information about Youth Heritage Forum 2015 contact Alanna at 1(888)739-1892 [Ext 5] or by email 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday's Folklore Photo - An Old School Root Cellar

Last week I had the opportunity to go back out into the field and get my hands dirty with some serious archaeology. My graduate supervisor Barry Gaulton has been going out to a site in Sunnyside, Newfoundland, for the past several years with Steve Mills, and each time he goes out into the field he brings eager graduate students with him: this year it was my turn! The site is a 17th century winter house in the woods near the water, and based upon some of the artifacts we found it probably dates to the 1660's, and was probably used for only a year or two.

One great discovery this season was the location of what was most likely a root cellar to the west of where the house was. It's a little hard to tell in the photo, but this root cellar is built from mounded earth, and we uncovered a section of staining in the earth that was likely a 4 foot span of wooden flooring in the center. Although there isn't any remains left, the top of the root cellar would have been built of a combination of earth, rock and wood, drawn from the local resources at hand.

Root cellars would have been just as important 350 years ago as they were 50 years ago, or even today, especially during a cold winter with limited access to supplies other than what you could hunt or gather for yourself. I decided to share the photo I had of the root cellar this week for the folklore photo as a teaser for a blog post later on this week about my trip out to Sunnyside, and because root cellars are cool, and full of folklore-y goodness! And you can't go wrong with one from the 17th century.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Hunting Hogboons and Detecting Trows: Kids search out the supernatural

I had two meetings today about future folklore projects in Conception Bay, one in Bay Roberts and the other in Cupids. Perhaps unsurprisingly, talk of the fairies came up in both. Conception Bay is rich in fairy lore, and there seems to be a growing interest in communities in the area in documenting and celebrating these traditions.

While in Cupids, I mentioned two fairylore projects from across the pond, one from Shetland and the other from Orkney. I first heard about the Shetland project from storyteller Davy Cooper when he visited Newfoundland a few years back. The Shetland Museum and Archives had created a Trowie Knowe, the house of a "trow" - a type of small, ugly supernatural creature like a troll. They had also created a "Trow Detector" - a steampunkish looking device for alerting museum goers to nearly trows.

The Orkney project allowed kids to search out evidence of a similar type of creature, a hogboon, a mound-dwelling creature tied to particular families. The hogboon hunt was part of a one day workshop where participants used newly learnt archaeological skills like surveying, map making, photography, and collecting and documenting artefacts. You can check out the video of the kids on their hunt on Vimeo. The story in the piece is told by Orkadian storyteller Tom Muir.

Rousay Summer Club Survey from Mark Jenkins on Vimeo.