The Archaeological Land Trust of Nova Scotia
Protecting Nova Scotia’s Archaeological Resources

 


Archaeological Land Trust of Nova Scotia Signs
Stewardship Agreement with Castle Frederick Farms


The Archaeological Land Trust of Nova Scotia signed a Stewardship Agreement with the Bremner family and Castle Frederick Farms Incorporated to ensure the protection of six archaeological sites on November 6, 2010. Castle Frederick, located in Falmouth, Hants County, has been the subject of a number of archaeological investigations over the past two decades and is considered to be an area of archaeological significance in Nova Scotia.

At right: Castle Frederick Farm. Photo: Erin Bremner

The site is, of course, best known for its association with J.F.W. DesBarres, who lived at Castle Frederick from 1764 until 1774. His estate included a large Manor House and an observatory, perhaps one of the first in North America, built in 1763. Equipped with some of the most advanced astronomical devices of the time, the observatory was important as a location for the calibration of his survey instruments and DesBarres used Castle Frederick as a base of operations for his famous series of coastal maps entitled the Atlantic Neptune.

While DesBarres may have been the most famous resident at Castle Frederick, he certainly was not the only one. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest a First Nations presence in the vicinity as a small number of Native artifacts have been recovered during archaeological investigations.

Although little is known about the Native occupation of the area, we do know it was once home to the pre-Deportation Acadian settlement of Pierre Landry and was resettled by Acadians, along with tenant farmers of other ethnic origins, in the 1760’s. The archaeological sites to be protected under the Stewardship Agreement, which include the possible remains of the DesBarres manor house and the site of Pierre Landry’s settlement, are located on a portion of the original Castle Frederick estate, now owned and operated by the Bremner family, direct descendents of J.F.W. DesBarres.

At right: The remains of Pierre Landry’s settlement. Photo: Craig Chandler

Modern settlement expansion has been thwarted by the extensive farmland of Castle Frederick. As a result, its archaeological resources have remained relatively intact, providing us with a unique glimpse into pre and post-Deportation Acadian society, eighteenth-century Euro-Canadian life and the development of the estate as a system of tenant farms during the late eighteenth and early centuries. Needless to say, Castle Frederick represents an important historical landscape and offers an opportunity for greater understanding and appreciation of our collective past.

Archaeological research at Castle Frederick began in 1987 with a preliminary reconnaissance by Brian Preston of the Nova Scotia Museum. At that time, 30 cultural features were recorded - believed to date from the early eighteenth century to about 1950. In 1988, reconnaissance continued and in the fall of that year, Stephen Davis of Saint Mary’s University conducted two days of test excavation, confirming the presence of one Acadian and two post-Deportation domestic sites. In the summer of 1989, Michael Deal and his crew from

Memorial University of Newfoundland continued testing and mapping archaeological features identified during earlier surveys. They returned to Castle Frederick the following year and spent six weeks excavating what has been tentatively identified as the

DesBarres Manor House site. Thousands of artifacts were recovered during this excavation, including a Spanish coin dating to 1783. Testing continued in 1992, confirming the pre-Deportation date for one of the Acadian features and the late eighteenth to early nineteenth-century occupation of the Manor House site.

 

Above:Jim Bremner of Castle Frederick Farms and Craig Chandler, ALTNS President on November 6, 2010. Photo: Erin Bremner

The Archaeological Land Trust of Nova Scotia is grateful to Jim Bremner and his family for their recognition and appreciation of the important archaeological resources at Castle Frederick. The Bremner family’s commitment to the protection and preservation of Castle Frederick’s archaeological sites is a significant contribution to the historical and cultural legacy of Nova Scotia – and we greatly appreciate their efforts.