Monday, October 3, 2016

Visiting the Dorset Paleoeskimo in Stock Cove

The plan was to paddle from Chance Cove to a campsite just inside Masters Head, set up camp and then proceed into Bull Arm to investigate an archaeological site at Stock Cove and thence to the construction site for the Hebron GBS.

When we got the tents set up it turned out Dean, Derek and Gary were going to spend the afternoon relaxing in camp.  Cathy, Hazen and myself stuck with the plan and headed around the headland and into Bull Arm.

The clear sky started to cloud over but it was sweet paddling.  Bull Island hovered on the horizon.

Hazen had to stop to rest a shoulder injury sustained out fat biking.  Cathy stayed with him while I continued on to Stock Cove telling them I'd wait there.  Eight kms from Masters Head I spied Stock Cove.

I wasn't sure exactly where the site was in Stock Cove so I just pulled up on the beach and got out to investigate.  I walked up from the beach and ...

... into the woods.  It didn't take long before I spotted a piece of blue tarp poking out of the ground.  A dig had taken place and recovered.  I was in the right place.

The Dorset occupying this site belong to the "Early Palaeo-Eskimo" phase dating from 3800 to 2200 years before the present date.  The site possibly looked much like it does today but many generations of trees have fallen and regrown since they were here.

As I looked out through the trees to the ocean beyond I wondered what was so appealing about this site.  Today its certainly not close to their main source of food, namely seals.  Possibly they came here during the winter for the shelter and access to caribou and other land game?  From this spot I followed a well defined path  that led to ...

... the main excavation site where the current summer digs were exposed.

I walked around to try to get a shot with my kayak in the picture which lay on the beach in the distance.  I wondered if the Dorset had come here in kayaks themselves?  Surely some must have.  I wondered what the site would have looked like with people milling about and shelters and kayaks on the beach.  So much time between them and me.  It made me feel very small in the grand scheme of things.

Nothing lasts forever.  Even this site.  The rise of sea level in the intervening period has changed the site from when it was occupied.  Archaeologists have documented thousands of artifacts that have been washed out and onto the beach.  That raises the point that visitors like myself should not collect or disturb anything on the site.  The Historic Resources Act of the province in fact prohibits it.

A message was propped up which read: "Please do not disturb!  We'll be back next year.  Follow us "Stock Cove Archaeology Project" on Facebook for updates".

There's also a blog that can be checked out plus a number of Google hits for anyone interested in further info.  I'm just scratching the surface here.

I was careful not to disturb anything but I did pick up one artifact from the current period.  Someone had left an opened can of pop standing upright, still with some of its contents.  Some people just have no respect.

There are other locations of Peleo-Eskimo occupation as shown on Heritage Newfoundland website (credits noted in the image):

Soon Cathy and Hazen arrived and we were on our way to check out the Hebron Gravity Based Structure (GBS) deeper in Bull Arm at Mosquito Cove.


I subsequently found a map produced by the Provincial Archaeology office that showed Dorset Paleoeskimo sites in Trinity Bay at and near our campsite.  The red oval on the map is where we camped inside of Masters Head and the red circle is the Stock Cove site.  I had no idea that there were so many numerous sites until I did some research for this blog post.  Here's the map:


  1. What a treat to find that site!
    Thanks for the history and pix Tony! :)

  2. Awesome place. Sort of an erie site too though; something like The Beaches where the Beothuk camped.

  3. Very interesting! Thanx for sharing your knowledge and your photos! Safe paddling!

  4. Thanks, I didn't know a lot about Dorset Paleoeskimo sites before our trip. There's a wealth of info available just by Googling.