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An Edward VI shilling. The coin was minted in London between 1551 and 1553
 
Following on from the astonishing history and culture-expanding artefact finds by members of the public in Britain (the Staffordshire Hoard and the Silverdale Hoard to name but two) Yahoo News reports yesterday that –
 
An amateur treasure hunter with a hand-held metal detector has turned Canadian history on its head after finding a 16th century shilling buried in clay on the shores of Vancouver Island. The 435-year-old coin discovered in western-most Canada has rekindled a theory that a British explorer made a secret voyage here two centuries before it was discovered by Spanish sailors. Official historical records show the Spanish were the first Europeans to set foot in what is now Canada’s British Columbia province in 1774, followed four years later by British Royal Navy Captain James Cook.
 
According to conspiracy theorists and some historians, the silver coin (produced between 1551 and 1553) is evidence that English explorer Sir Francis Drake travelled as far north as Canada’s Pacific Coast during an expedition to California in 1579, in search of the famed Northwest Passage. But he covered it up at the behest of Queen Elizabeth I, who supposedly wished to avoid confrontation over the new territory with Spain.
 
Full article here.
   
 
 
Excavation at Cape Tanfield, mainland Canada. Image credit Patricia Sutherland
 
BBC NEWS HIGHLANDS & ISLANDS reports yesterday that –
 
An archaeologist with close links to Scotland is painstakingly gathering evidence of early Viking contact with people who once occupied Arctic Canada. Pat Sutherland has spent 13 years investigating artefacts recovered from Baffin Island and mainland Canada. The items are similar to those made in Greenland and European Viking sites. Dr Sutherland said they suggest close contact between the Norse and hunters known as the Dorset, who mysteriously disappeared in the 14th Century. The Dorset culture occupied parts of Canada for 2,000 years before Inuit moved in from Alaska. Dr Sutherland, a Canadian archaeologist, is an honorary research fellow at the University of Aberdeen.
 
Dr Sutherland said: “There are three groups of artefacts found over a 1,500km of coastline from north Baffin to northern Labrador from sites that were occupied by the Dorset people that suggest a Norse presence.” One group is cord spun from animal hair. Penelope Rogers, a York-based expert on Norse textiles from Greenland, studied the Canadian cordage and found that it was comparable to that found in Greenland.
 
Notched sticks used by the Vikings in trading goods, or as a calendar, make up a second group of artefacts.
 
The third is whetstones – used for sharpening weapons and tools – which have also been identified as being similar to those uncovered at European Viking sites. Dr Sutherland said: “The latest work being done on the whetstones is to identify smelted metal traces on the surfaces.”
 
Full article here.

 

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