The Stock Cove Site: A Large Dorset Seal-Hunting Encampment on the Coast of Southeastern Newfoundland

Christopher B. Wolff, Donald H. Holly, John C. Erwin, Tatiana Nomokonova and Lindsay Swinarton

Abstract

The Stock Cove site (CkAl-3) is a large, deeply stratified, multicomponent site located in southeastern Newfoundland. The richest strata at the site, which have yielded thousands of artifacts and multiple overlapping house features, provide evidence of a substantial Dorset presence. Earlier researchers proposed that the Stock Cove site additionally contained the Province’s only Dorset longhouse, which this paper disputes. The high frequency of sea-mammal hunting implements and identified faunal remains, as well as the site’s location, all suggest that coastal and marine resources figured prominently in the Dorset’s food economy at Stock Cove. Faunal remains further suggest that the biogeography of the region when the Dorset were living at the site, particularly the distribution of migratory harp seals, may have differed significantly from historical distributions. The recovery of harp seal remains on the site has broad implications for understanding Dorset colonization and abandonment of the island, as well as the appropriateness of using historical biogeographic data to interpret prehistoric economies.

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