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Institute of Social and Economic Research Post-Doctoral Fellowship

English colonial settlement in the North Atlantic world: the Calvert estates in Ireland and Newfoundland in the seventeenth century.

Summary of post doctoral research by Dr. James Lyttleton

This project is looking at the archaeology of early English colonial expansion in the seventeenth century, with particular reference to Sir George Calvert, 1st Lord Baltimore whose family acquired lands in Clohamon, Co. Wexford, as well as established a colony in Ferryland on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula in the 1620s. The ISER Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship facilitated research on published primary and secondary sources relating to the archaeology and history of Lord Baltimore’s settlements in Newfoundland and Ireland, creating a benchmark from which to pursue the first archaeological investigation ever of Lord Baltimore’s Irish settlement. Surviving estate papers uncovered during the course of the fellowship indicated that the Calvert family were actively managing their Irish estate, with lands been leased and rented to English and Irish tenants. The extensive oak woodlands in the locality, of which north Wexford was famous for at the time, were also exploited to supply an international demand for charcoal, pipestaves and lumber. In the context of the early origins of empire, the acquisition and management of Irish estates such as Clohamon was important as they provided the necessary experience in settling colonists further afield such as at Ferryland on the southern shore of Newfoundland. Between 2009 and 2011, three seasons of archaeological testing and excavation, involving students from the Archaeology Department in Memorial, have revealed the partial remains of a late medieval castle, while further investigation between the castle and the modern day village of Clohamon has unearthed evidence for property boundaries that were laid out in the seventeenth century. Additionally, the remains of a timber-framed malt-house of mid-seventeenth-century date were also uncovered - a unique survival as vernacular architecture in Ireland from this period can be difficult to locate.

Remarkably the mortar and cobble floor of the mid-seventeenth-century malthouse at Clohamon had escaped destruction by later ploughing. To the rear of the building can be seen a brick-lined kiln which was heated by a stone-built hearth placed into the ground to the left.


[a]cross the sea with ISER

Rona Rangsch pictured filming off the coast of the Great Northern Peninsula.
By Janet Harron

The Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences has a mandate to foster and undertake research into social and economic questions rising from the particular circumstances of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Recently, German artist Rona Rangsch received ISER funding to complete her project titled [a]cross the sea, which features video works showing the relationship and perspective between the Old World and the New World. Shot as three separate videos in three different formats, the videos were realized between 2011 and 2012, while Ms. Rangsch was artist-in-residence at Terra Nova National Park and on Fogo Island.

Dr. Lisa Rankin, director of ISER, is delighted to see work in the fine arts being supported.

"Rona's work is bringing the social history of Newfoundland and Labrador to the public in other parts of the North Atlantic world," said Dr. Rankin.

The first video, terra nova, interprets immigration to the New World from the Old, as seen from Newfoundland. Fyrir hafvilu fram, the second video, draws a connection between Norway and Newfoundland along the Norse trans-Atlantic routes from around 1000 AD. The title refers to the Norse seafarers crossing the Atlantic without any effective navigational tools: it means "onwards, despite hafvilla", where "hafvilla" is an old Norse expression for "being lost at sea." The final video, face-to-face, interprets a more abstract, geographical connection as seen from both directions from Newfoundland and from Ireland.

Ms. Rangsch first came to Newfoundland in 2007 for an artist residency at the Pouch Cove Foundation.

"The experience of the wilderness and beauty of Newfoundland had a deep impact on my life as an artist and my artistic practice," she explained. "It was in 2007 in Newfoundland that I shot my very first video."

A major inspirational force for the videos is what Ms. Rangsch calls Newfoundland's "extremely young spirit."

"The exploration and immigration from Europe are not that long ago and in my eyes people have preserved some sort of pioneer character that is long lost in Europe," said Ms. Rangsch. "They are very aware of their European heritage while being proud of the specific Newfoundland character and culture. Moreover, the unspoiled nature of Newfoundland makes me feel like a pioneer myself as I can experience much the same today as the first explorers did centuries ago."

The three works from [a]cross the sea have been presented at exhibitions and festivals in Norway and Germany with several more showings already scheduled in the near future. The project and Ms. Rangsch's related interest in sea journeys and trans-oceanic concepts have also led to an international group exhibition on these themes currently being shown in Dortmund, Germany.

Demo/documentation versions of the three video works that are part of [a]cross the sea can be viewed at 


Institute of Social and Economic Research

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