Designated in 2011 as a Unique Place.
Nominated by: Laurie McLean, Burnside Heritage Foundation Incorporated
Both The Beaches and Bloody Bay Cove Quarry have been recognized as important archaeological sites for over a century: in the late 1820s, Rev. William Wilson published descriptions of Bloody Bay as a former habitation site for the Beothuk, and geologist T.G.B. Lloyd documented stone tools and other artefacts found at The Beaches site in 1875. In the 1960s when a regular program of archaeology was begun in Newfoundland and Labrador, The Beaches provided several important pieces of the puzzle as the sequence of the province’s prehistory was developed.
In 1965 and 1966 Helen Devereux, sponsored by the Department of Provincial Affairs, conducted the first professional excavations at The Beaches. Hers was an attempt to identify the pre-contact origins of the Beothuk. She found that the site, although much reduced by erosion since T.G.B. Lloyd’s visit in the 1870s, had quite a large number of artefacts and features, with both a large early pre-contact component and a post-contact component, indicative of a habitation site used over many centuries.
Since then, subsequent archaeological surveys have confirmed that the cultural landscape that includes The Beaches and the Bloody Bay Cove Quarry is significant for several reasons:
- archaeology from these sites links this landscape to all of the known pre-contact cultures of the Island (Maritime Archaic, Palaeo-eskimo and Recent Indian peoples);
- it includes a type-site for the earliest identified ancestors of the Beothuk, referred to by archaeologists as Recent Indians of the Beaches complex;
- it includes the second-largest known pre-contact quarry and stone tool manufacture site in the province;
- it is a significant early-Beothuk habitation site;
- and, as a multi-component archaeological site, it is illustrative of the sequence of all Newfoundland prehistory, through contact to the early relationship between European settlers and the Beothuk.
Since 1989, continuing archaeology at The Beaches and Bloody Bay Cove sites has developed with local participation by the people of the community of Burnside, becoming a model for community archaeology in Newfoundland and Labrador. An important benefit of this program and the work of archaeologist Laurie McLean and others has been to extend investigations to many other nearby sites. As a result, archeologically, Bonavista Bay has become one of the best surveyed areas on the Island of Newfoundland.