September 20, 2010


Above is the silver cross measuring only 3cm wide found at Grand Pre.

Test results on an artifact recovered from Grand-Pré National Historic Site of Canada have excited archaeologists who are gearing up to return to the site this spring. The artifact is a long-lost fragment of Acadian church history: a silver cross measuring only 3cm wide. The Grand-Pré find is the only one of its kind from what was one of the largest of the region’s pre-1755 Acadian communities, and an extremely rare archaeological example of colonial church silver.

Archaeologists are pleased with the discovery. According to Professor Jonathan Fowler of Saint Mary’s University, who has directed an archaeological field school at the national historic site for the past eight years, it represents “compelling evidence in support of the tradition that the church of St-Charles-des-Mines stood nearby.”

The Acadian parish church, established in 1687, was used as a headquarters by New England’s Lieutenant-Colonel John Winslow during the 1755 Deportation of the Acadians from Grand-Pré. During this time it served as a temporary prison for nearly 500 Acadian men and boys. Long believed to have stood at the center of the national historic site, the structure’s precise location is still a mystery.

Broken at its base, the cross appears to have once been joined to a larger object, such as a chalice lid or a ciborium, sacred vessels used during the celebration of the Eucharist. The artifact was recovered from the cellar of a building that appears to be a burned Acadian home. Archaeologists will continue to investigate the building this spring.

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