510-year-old church in Newfoundland may be New World's oldest Christian site

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Ottawa, September 7 (ANI): In a new project, a team of archeologists is planning to search for the remains of a 510-year-old church on the western shore of Conception Bay, Newfoundland, which may be the oldest Christian site in the New World.

According to a report in the National Post, the project is aimed at adding to a string of recent discoveries about explorer John Cabot's history-making voyages to Canada in the late 15th century.

The recent emergence of new evidence about Cabot's voyages, including potentially "revolutionary" findings by the late British historian Alwyn Ruddock, has renewed interest in England's earliest New World ventures during the reign of King Henry VII.

Canwest News Service recently revealed a researcher's discovery of a 1499 letter in which Henry VII himself describes a previously unknown expedition to Canada headed by William Weston, a Bristol merchant who is finally emerging - five centuries after his death - as a key backer of Cabot's quest to establish an English foothold in North America.

The king's letter also contained the earliest known use of the phrase "new founde land" to describe Canada's easternmost province, which Cabot is believed to have reached in June 1497 - the first European landfall in North America since the age of the Vikings.

Bizarrely, the recent spate of revelations from the dawning days of Canadian history follows Prof. Ruddock's order - carried out by the executors of her will after she died in 2005 -- that her unpublished research be destroyed.

But, through a project headed by University of Bristol historian Evan Jones, Prof. Pope and other scholars are combing through a small collection of Prof. Ruddock documents that survived destruction and may point the way to fresh discoveries - including the suspected Catholic mission at Carbonear.

In the outline for a book she never completed, Prof. Ruddock claimed to have found documents detailing the establishment of a church at Carbonear.

Historians generally believe Cabot perished during the voyage, and little was accomplished by any of the ships involved in the expedition.

But Prof. Ruddock's sketchy references to a New World church built as early as 1498 has electrified Prof. Jones and other researchers.

"If she were correct, this would be the first European Christian settlement in North America, with the church Prof. Ruddock mentions being the first built on the continent," said Jones. (ANI)

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