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Henry Crout to Percival Willoughby, July 1613

“in the morninge we passing by a little pleasant Island at the rising of the sunne we first espied a canno hard vpon the rocks and presently we espied a savage’s tilt which made us to put ashoore at the island. Comynge ashore we perceived the savages were newly gone from their house into the woods, for we found the stones to be warm in the mydest of their house which they had made their fire upon. ... the house ... was covered with some skins and they lay one with Fine long green grass for their pillow at their heads and some vnder them.

Middleton Manuscript MI x 1/24, University of Nottingham


In July 1613 Henry Crout and three other colonists from Cupers Cove returned to the bottom of Trinity Bay aboard a shallop. There were two reasons for their voyage: one was to determine if the red stone they had seen in the cliffs around Spread Eagle and Chapel Arm in the fall of 1612 was iron ore; the other was to contact the Beothuk they had met the previous year. On July 1 they arrived in the vicinity of Chapel Arm where they examined the stone and soon discovered that it was not iron ore but red shale. The next morning they sailed east into Dildo Arm and on one of the islands at the entrance to the arm they saw a Beothuk house. Going ashore, they found that the house was deserted and Crout assumed that its inhabitants had “newly gone from their house into the woods”. Crout left presents at the house and continued on to the bottom of the arm. The next morning, on their way out the arm, they found that the Indians had gone from the island but had left behind “spits of their roast meat”. This Crout took to be a gift left in exchange for the presents he had placed there the previous day.

Documentary and archaeological evidence combine to indicate that the island where these events took place is Dildo Island, the largest of the three islands at the entrance to Dildo Arm. This is not the only time that Dildo Island has played a role in the history of Newfoundland. In the 1970s amateur archaeologist Don Locke dug on the island and discovered evidence of a Dorset Eskimo presence dating back to the first millennium AD. According to documentary evidence, the island also was the location of an English fort during Queen Anne’s War (1701-1713). In 1711 the the English inhabitants of Trinity Bay were ordered to withdraw to winter quarters to defend themselves against the French and Dildo Island is one of the places designated for this purpose. Documents record that during the winter of 1711/1712 there were “205 men drawn from Trinity Bay”on the island. Almost 200 years later, in 1889, Dildo Island was at the forefront of technological innovations in the fishery when the first cod hatchery in North America was constructed there. Over a four week period between September 25 and October 20, 1995, the BTHC archaeological crew conducted an intensive survey of Dildo Island to see if we could find any physical evidence of these various occupations.

  Images (left to right, top to bottom) 1. Looking north towards Dildo Island, June 2002. 2. Chapel Head at the entrance to Chapel Arm. Henry Crout mistook the red shale in these cliffs for iron ore. 3. Sailing east from Chapel Arm past Dildo Island, September 1994.