James Williamson Abstract

Discovering Beothuk House-Pits in the Exploits River Valley

James Williamson

This project focuses on the Beothuk groups living within the Exploits River Valley (ERV), and the changes within their society and in their house construction between 1750 and 1829 AD. This follows work carried out by Laurie Mclean who has recently exposed house-pits in the Exploits River Valley previously discovered by Don Locke in the 1960s, but which were believed lost to looting and erosion.

By examining these recently rediscovered sites in detail, this research will improve our knowledge of Beothuk reactions to the arrival of Europeans, which has been of primary interest over the past few years to the public and to the archaeological community.

This request is for a preliminary study of the ERV house-pits, aimed at recording the shape using survey equipment and to test the use of drones to facilitate this process. If drones can be used to locate and record Beothuk house-pit features from photogrammetric models of the landscape the archaeological investigation of the Beothuk settlement of the ERV can be conducted faster, and on a larger scale than previously possible enabling a regionally situated understanding of Beothuk settlement change and population distribution between 1760 and 1820 AD, and ultimately address the following questions.

Do the increasing size of Beothuk House-Pits show a population increase within the Exploits River Valley due to population movement from outside the area or movement by local bands?

Did the Beothuk move into the Exploits River Valley in family groups to form new households or did they move into existing households?


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