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Listen to audio by Dr. James Tuck
And in this area we've discovered some surprising evidence of the defenses or the fortifications of the Colony of Avalon. You can see in the photograph the profile of a ditch that's about 20 feet (6.1 metres) wide and four feet (1.2 metres) deep. Just inside or to the west of that ditch was a rampart of about the same dimensions made from the earth that was taken out of the ditch. On top of the rampart, according to Captain Wynne's letter to George Calvert, he built a palisade of posts and rails and trees seven feet tall, sharpened at the top.

At the very top of the photograph you can see an unusual mound, or series of mounds, that are part of a bastion or gun platform that defended the southeastern corner of the Colony of Avalon. You may be able to see in the bottom of the ditch three long trenches running parallel to the ditch. In these trenches we found the wooden sills from a bridge that once spanned the ditch so people could get in and out of the Colony of Avalon and out to the Ferryland Downs.

Inside that bridge there must have been a gate, very likely called the "Downs Gate" because the Downs has been so called for hundreds of years. The gate opened onto a cobblestone street that ran through the Colony of Avalon for about 400 feet (121.8 metres) and ends just west of the forge. Fronting on the street is a kind of a strange looking plastic-covered building that we built in the fall of 1998 so that we could dig later into the season. The building covers a garbage dump, or midden, that was made during much of the 17th century. We think the midden was created by an important family at Ferryland. In fact we are certain it was created by the family of David Kirke and his wife Sara and their children, who lived in Ferryland between 1638 and 1696 when the place was destroyed by the French.

We have found many upscale artifacts in that midden: silver thimbles, silver bodkins, silver pins, silver-plated spurs, gold-plated beads, even a couple of very nice gold finger rings. We have also found a few objects that indicate positively that it was the Kirke family that lived there. These are tobacco pipes made in the Chesapeake area in the eastern United States that have the DK monogram of David Kirke.

Back in the 17th century, people weren't as tidy about throwing away their garbage as we think we are, so very often these middens accumulated just outside the house.

We've found just a part of a fireplace, just behind and to the left of that little plastic building. We think that this is the fireplace of the house in which the Kirkes lived.

Now we know from historical records that the Kirkes in the year 1638 moved into the house that was built for George Calvert, or Lord Baltimore, so by extension we could say that just maybe we've found the Mansion House, where the Calverts lived back in 1628-29 Unfortunately, the house lies under the road that runs from the community of Ferryland out to the light house, so we haven't been able to dig very much of the house. We don't know whether its dimensions correspond to the dimensions that were given to George Calvert by Captain Wynne. Furthermore, we haven't found any artifacts with the Calverts' names or initials on them such as we have for the Kirkes. So for now we have to say that maybe we've found the Mansion House, but we'll have to wait for more excavation to be certain of just who lived in this house and exactly when it was built in the first place.

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© 1999, Colony of Avalon Foundation.

Revised March 2002.






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