Changing Landscapes: Kensal Park Norton Site
Imagine you are next up at bat in the baseball diamond in Kensal Park. Did you know you are also standing on the remains of a 15th century Iroquoian village officially known as the Norton Site?
Kensal Park – Norton Site
The Norton site was brought to the attention of Canadian archaeologist William Wintemberg in the early 1920’s when he was conducting extensive surveys at the Lawson Site. Although he mentions this discovery in his report of the Lawson excavations, no fieldwork was attempted at the location. At the time, the Norton family had been continually farming the adjacent land since the 1800’s and had recently acquired the land where the site is located.
The site was later rediscovered in 1987 in connection with a proposed water main being built in the north end of the park. The survey, conducted by Archaeological Services Inc. from Toronto, recovered a sample of artifacts that were similar in time to that of the Lawson Site. Further investigation revealed nine longhouses, a palisade, and one midden dating 1400-1450AD. In addition to flaked stone projectile points, bifaces, ceramics, and groundstone tools, worked bone items such as awls, beads, and a perforated antler object were recovered. Based on the evidence, the people living on site are identified as Ancestral Neutral.
Steps were immediately taken to protect the site from further disturbance. First, the site was registered in the Ontario Archaeological Sites database, then designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. This protects Norton Site by establishing a legal perimeter around the area within which future development cannot proceed. Finally, all new park or infrastructure within the vicinity is preceded by an archaeological assessment to determine if an unknown portion of the site will be impacted or if there are any new sites.
The cultural landscape of the Norton Site and the area around it has changed through time from an Ancestral Neutral village in 1400-1450 AD to family farmland in the 19th-20th centuries and finally to Kensal Park, a recreational and sporting park within the City of London.
Want to learn more? Check out the exhibit on now to see some of the objects mentioned here and from Jackson District/ Summerside.
Kensal Park and the Norton site is the second in our series of posts on London’s Changing Landscape. Watch this space for the 3rd and 4th installments. Please add any information that you’d like to share or ask any questions if you have them.