Landscape Archaeology at the 1604-1613 French Settlement on St. Croix Island


This paper reviews the history and archaeology of St. Croix Island (L’Île de Sainte-Croix) located off the coast of Maine between the USA and Canada. In 1604 a temporary settlement of 120 French noblemen, craftsmen, soldiers, sailors and laborers was established on the island under the leadership of Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts. They were accompanied by the explorer Samuel Champlain who used the island as a base for his explorations of the land claimed by Henri IV known as Acadia. Of the 70 men left to spend the winter, half died due to scurvy, which may be linked to their poor nutrition. The island was abandoned in 1605 and so it remains perhaps the best-preserved French colonial settlement from this period. Documentation by Champlain facilitates our study of the landscapes of the habitation, where numerous buildings were constructed, an agricultural area in the middle of the island, and the cemetery, the earliest firmly-dated European cemetery in North America. Archaeology has been conducted at the site periodically since 1797, most recently by the National Park Service (USA). A variety of geophysical survey methods has been employed to document these remains.