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Southwold Earthworks National Historic Site of Canada

Southwold, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1923/05/25

General view of Southwold Earthworks National Historic Site of Canada, showing the earthworks, which form a double ring of low earthen mounds that surround the site.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.
General view
View of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque, 2004.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, 2004.
General view
General view of the Southwold Earthworks, showing the earthworks, which form a double ring of low earthen mounds that surround the site, 2004.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, 2004.
General view

Other Name(s)

Southwold Earthworks National Historic Site of Canada
Southwold Earthworks
Remblais-de-Southwold

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1450/01/01 to 1550/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/03/13

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Southwold Earthworks National Historic Site of Canada, located near Iona, in Elgin County, is a piece of property containing the archaeological remains of a village, originally inhabited by the Attiwandaron, also known as the Neutral Iroquois. Conspicuous earthworks, a rarity in southern Ontario, surround the village and are well preserved. The interior of the village shows a typical Iroquoian pattern of closely spaced longhouses, many of which are overlapping. The overlapping houses indicate that many houses were reconstructed during the life of the village, another typical Iroquoian pattern. Official recognition refers to the archaeological site administered by Parks Canada.

Heritage Value

Southwold Earthworks was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1923 because:
- it is a rare and well-preserved example of an Aboriginal fortified village completely surrounded by earthworks, built by the Attiwandaron (Neutral Iroquois) between about A.D. 1450 and 1550.

Attiwandaron is a name from the Huron-Wendat language that refers to the confederacy of Iroquoian peoples living north of Lake Erie who were neutral in the conflict between the Huron-Wendat and the League of Five Nations Iroquois. The village was once home to several hundred people who lived in longhouses, which were multi-unit dwellings that housed entire extended families related by a common maternal ancestor. The village was, and is, surrounded by conspicuous earthworks. The 17th-century French referred to the Attiwandaron as the “la nation Neutre” or the Neutrals. There is no distinct descendant population of the Attiwandaron today, as the entire confederacy was dispersed or incorporated into the Five Nations Iroquois during the years 1647 to 1651. This is the only Iroquoian village administered by Parks Canada that is commemorated as a village in itself.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Submission Report and Minutes, March 2005.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- the integrity and materials of the surviving subsurface archaeological remains; features and artifacts in their original placement and extent, including the in situ vestiges, and various archaeological features both identified and as yet unidentified that relate to the occupations and activities pursued on this site;
- the earthworks, which form a double ring of low earthen mounds that surround the site;
- the flat plain of the village itself inside the earthworks, the location of the longhouses, the work spaces and common areas within the village;
- the views from atop the earthworks, and from the surrounding area towards the earthworks.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1923/05/25

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land
Canada's Earliest Inhabitants
Peopling the Land
Settlement

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Historic or Interpretive Site

Historic

Community
Settlement

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

Attiwandaron First nations

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

370

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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