The Artifacts
Interpretation Centre Museum

Bottle seals

Miscellaneous Artifacts

Pipe makers' marks

Artifact Explorer

Interpretation Centre Museum

The interpretation Centre Museum consists of a brief audio-visual introduction to the Colony of Avalon Foundation operations, such as archeology, conservation as well as a brief history of the site. Exhibit cases provide information on 15 themes as well as display artifacts relating to each theme. Some of the exhibit cases have "discovery drawers" were you will find additional artifacts. You will find a case containing "new finds", items found in recent years of special interest or significance. There are also cases containing larger pieces of pottery, items of interest dated after 1696 and information on names from Ferryland since 1597.

Welcome to the Colony of Avalon

The decision to establish a colony at Ferryland might have been that of Captain Edward Wynne, the colony's first governor. Fishing grounds were close to the settlement and large cobble beaches permitted fish to be dried without building platforms. The inner harbour, or 'the pool', provided an anchorage sheltered from the wind. The area was easily defended. A peninsula connected the settlement to the mainland and access from the sea was limited to a narrow passage. Troops landing on the south side of the settlement would have been faced with a steep cliff. There was also nearby stands of timber and slate out crops that provided construction material.

1. The People of Ferryland

Ferryland is often associated with British settlers, but people from many nations visited there. These people are celebrated in the accompanying panels.

Artifacts currently on display include: stoneware/pottery, tobacco pipes, arrowheads from the Beothuk, French, Basques, Dutch, Portuguese, Americans, English, Irish.

2. George Calvert and the Colony of Avalon

George Calvert was secretary of state to King James I. He became a Roman Catholic about 1625 and resigned, yet he stayed in James favour and was named Baron Baltimore. Calvert wished to settle in the New World and bought land, which he named 'Avalon'. Calvert moved there with his family in 1628. The winter was harsh and many settlers fell ill. Calvert left planning to settle in Virginia, but died in 1632. His son Leonard, settled the Calverts' Maryland colony in 1634.

Artifacts currently on display include: headstone, tobacco pipes, and Chinese porcelain

3. Edward Wynne and the construction of Avalon

Edward Wynne, Avalon's first governor, began construction of buildings at the colony in 1621, building a mansion house, warehouse, tenements, parlour, brewhouse, forge, cobblestone street and a "wall of defense…" The settlement was well planned; all of the early buildings were oriented in the same direction. The substantial nature of the settlement gave it pride of place among early English settlements and resulted in well-preserved structures unearthed on the site.

Artifacts currently on display include: roof slate, pick, nails, and shovel.

4. Avalon, a Place of Tolerance

Avalon was mainly a commercial enterprise, but Calvert also saw it as a place of religious toleration. Colonists were not required to acknowledge the Church of England as supreme. When Calvert arrived in 1628 he brought about 40 Catholic settlers and a priest. There was no church. Catholic and Protestant services were conducted under the same roof, likely the mansion house. The arrival of Sir David Kirke, a staunch Protestant, brought an end to religious tolerance.

Artifacts currently on display include: Portuguese plate used in weddings, rosary beads, shellac seal, religious medallions and an iron cross with traces of gold.

5. The Smithy

One of the first structures built in Ferryland was a blacksmith shop, essential to the colony's survival. The blacksmith made iron nails and other building hardware; he also produced and/or repaired most of the colony's tools. The warmth of the smithy's forge provided a place to socialize while waiting for service. Ferryland's blacksmiths likely arrived with a second group of colonists in 1622. Many of their tools were found during smithy excavations.

Artifacts currently on display include: blacksmith's tools and sundial fragments.

6. The Waterfront

The 1620s saw an ambitious land reclamation project of the south side of the harbour, or "the pool". A 90-meter seawall was built. This produced a quayside with level land behind it. A slate-roofed stone warehouse/work building was built. At the west end of the warehouse a stone privy, flushed by the tide, drained through the seawall. The complex was partially destroyed by the Dutch in 1673 and then burned in the French attack of 1696.

Artifacts currently on display include: tally stick, lead scale weights, storage vessels, bottle seals, and coins.

7. Sir David Kirke and the Pool Plantation

In 1637 much of Newfoundland was granted to a syndicate overseen by Sir David Kirke. In 1638 he took over control of Avalon and renamed it the Pool Plantation. Kirke issued tavern licenses and collected rent for fishing rooms. By such means he profited from Ferryland unlike George Calvert. In 1651 Kirke was recalled to England: the Calverts subsequently sued him for ownership of the settlement. He died in jail in 1654 "at the suit of Lord Baltimore."

Artifacts currently on display include: gold beads, German Westerwald stoneware, silver cufflinks, "PK" bottle seals, "DK" tobacco pipes, Venetian glass bowl and Portuguese terra sigillata earthenware.

8. Lady Sara Kirke & Lady Frances Hopkins

In the 1650s Davis Kirke's wife, Lady Sara, continued to operate the Pool Plantation. She was one of British North America's first female entrepreneurs. The colony was returned to the Calverts, but Lady Kirke and her sons never gave up control. In mid-century she was joined by her sister, Lady Frances Hopkins. The two were the gentry of the English shore, as luxury items found at Ferryland demonstrate. Lady Kirke died in the 1680s.

Artifacts currently on display include: gold finger rings, silver buckles, silver and brass thimbles, pins and bodkins. terra sigillata vessel.

9. International Trade and Commerce

Ferryland was a trade centre. Fish produced there was marketed across the Atlantic. Objects from Ferryland indicate the extent of the trade network in which the Pool Plantation participated. Many objects of trade originated in England, but expensive ceramics were probably shipped to Ferryland from Portugal. Some pipes came directly from Chesapeake as part of tobacco trade. Many perishable items, like wine, may have also come directly from their producers in France and Portugal.

Artifacts currently on display include: sgraffito bowl (Devenshire, England), marbled slipware (N. Italy), slipware (N. Holland), tobacco pipes (American made), tobacco pipes (African made), stoneware (French made), stoneware (Westerwald, Germany), Chinese porcelain.

10. War & Politics

In 1628, George Calvert, along with 100 men and two ships battled three French warships. In 1673, the colony was plundered by Dutch ships in retaliation for the British capture of New Amsterdam (New York). The commercial portions of the settlement - boats, flakes and stages were "ruined, fired and destroyed." A more serious attack came in 1696. French Governor de Brouillon arrived with seven warships and landed 700 men at the settlement. The colony was burnt and the settlers were either imprisoned at Placentia or sent back to England.

Artifacts currently on display include: cannon balls, bullet mold, lead musket balls and various items burned/melted in battle.

11. Common People

Governor Wynne listed the occupations at Ferryland as a surgeon, tailor, fisherman, cooper, quarryman, stone layer, smiths and so on. This provided evidence of the trades practiced by ordinary citizens of Ferryland. Yet there is little information about their private lives. Archeological remains reveal something about their daily activities. After the French attack in 1696, it was common people who first returned to Ferryland to rebuild their community. Some of their descendants are still in residence.

Artifacts currently on display include: wooden bowl & spoon, pewter spoon, cooking utensils, pottery, buttons, and buckles.

12. Health and Diet

Evidence of health and diet among Ferryland's early settlers has been revealed by archeology. From a waterfront privy came the remains of fish, birds and mammals, suggesting a diet richer than that of seventeenth-century Europeans. Grain provided flour for bread and a garden yielded vegetables and crops. Scurvy was a common disease and privy material includes the eggs of parasites like roundworm, whipworm and tapeworm.

Artifacts currently on display include: bedpan, chamber pot, gallipots, animal bones, medicine bottles, glass beads and glass jewels.

13. Leisure

Ferryland's hardworking settlers still found leisure time. Colonial fishers may have doubled average yearly wages at home in only six months, resulting in increased spending and indulgences. David Kirke set up taverns and charged others for licenses. He stored large quantities of alcohol and tobacco, selling 8000 litres of wine to a merchant in 1648. Leisure artifacts include gaming pieces, mouth harps, tobacco pipes, pipe fragments made into whistles and a tuning peg from a stringed instrument.

Artifacts currently on display include: tobacco pipes, bronze spigots from wine/spirit vessels, stone wizzer, pewter dice, mouth harp, slate gaming pieces, and clay marbles.

14. Costume

During the 1600s men's costumes first consisted of a jacket, breeches and hose. This later changed to a three-pieced fabric suit. By 1680 the woman's gown, a forerunner of today's costume appeared. Costume fragments reveal other details about people's dress. Samples include woven wools and silks, and knitted pieces that were caps and socks. Leather pieces represent shoes, boots, breeches and aprons. Buckles, buttons, boot spurs were worn by the gentry to indicate their position.

Artifacts currently on display include: leather shoe, leather sleeve, and silk clothing pieces.

The silica gel compartment provides support for the glass top and provides a base for the secondary text panel.

15. Fishery

The Ferryland fishing industry was initially run by the Basques, Portuguese and French, who salted codfish "wet" and stored it in their ships' hold. In the late 1500s, English fishers established on-shore structures to process, salt and dry the fish. This represented a shift to a land-based fishery. Much of the evidence for the fishery consists of cookrooms and other temporary structures, along with fishery-related artifacts like hooks, line, net weights, and the bones of thousands of fish.

Artifacts currently on display include: fishhooks, line and net weights, gaff, codfish vertebrae, splitting knife, whetstones.

16. New Finds

Artifacts are processed and stabilized as they are found. They are put on display as soon as it is safe to do so.


© 2003. Colony of Avalon Foundation, Ferryland, NL.
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In 2003 this tiny set of enameled gold seals was found in excavations near the waterfront. It measures less than one inch in height. The side pieces hinge outward to reveal three stamps, one on each part of the object. One seal was identified as the coat of arms of Sir David Kirke, conqueror of Quebec and proprietor of Ferryland's Pool Plantation from 1638 to 1651.

© 2003. Colony of Avalon Foundation, Ferryland, NL.
(56 kb)
Kirke Coat of arms - This seal represents the Kirke coat of arms with an augmentation granted in 1631 in honor of the Kirke's defeat of French Admiral Claude de Roquemont. The lion in the upper left is from Admiral de Roquemont's coat of arms but it is collared and chained in submission to Kirke.

© 2003. Colony of Avalon Foundation, Ferryland, NL.
(52 kb)
Winged and flaming heart - This seal is a religious one. A similar seal, illustrated by Georgette de Montenay, a French Protestant, in 1567 is accompanied by an epigram that begins: "Christ is the ground which every Christian should build…" It may have been a family motto.

© 2003. Colony of Avalon Foundation, Ferryland, NL.
(53 kb)
Trophy of arms - A trophy of arms is a self bestowed collection of shields, helmets, swords and pole arms supposedly captured from an enemy and commemoration a military victory, in this case probably Kirke's victory over Champlain at Quebec.

"DK" LEAD COIN - 2004

© 2003. Colony of Avalon Foundation, Ferryland, NL.
(53 kb)
Lead trade tokens were often used as small change in the 1600s. This one bears the initials "DK" for Sir Davis Kirke. It is probably the first piece of money manufactured in what is now Canada. It was found in July 2004.


© 2003. Colony of Avalon Foundation, Ferryland, NL.
(53 kb)
Slate headstone found in June 2004. The numerals 6 and 2, separated by a fleur de lys, are thought to represent a date in the 1620s.


© 2003. Colony of Avalon Foundation, Ferryland, NL.
(53 kb)
Portuguese terra sigillata costrel was used only for display. This piece was broken when the French destroyed Ferryland in 1696. Found in August 2004.


Silver cufflinks found on the waterfront on July 26, 2004. Age is uncertain.


Earthenware jug, probably Iberian in origin, was found June 2004.


English Staffordshire earthenware mug bears the monogram "AR" for Queen Anne (1702-1714). Found August 2004.


Gold ring with enamel scrollwork found June 2005. The silver bezel was set with rock crystal and glass stones. First half of the seventeenth century.

17. Ferryland After 1696

Items on display from the 17TH, 18TH AND 19TH centuries.

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© 2006, Colony of Avalon Foundation.

Revised February 2006.

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