The Cluny Fortified Village

The Cluny Fortified Village archaeological site is situated on the north bank of the Bow River south of the village of Cluny and just down the hill from the Blackfoot Crossing Interpretive Centre. This site is unique not only in Alberta but on the Canadian plains and is believed to have been occupied for only a short period of time around 1700 AD Aboriginal peoples from along the Missouri River in the Dakotas.

These communities built permanent villages of earth mound homes surrounded by wooden fortifications. Blackfoot people have passed down stories of visitors who built the fortified site on the banks of the Bow River and stayed the winter. Men from this area joined the group on their return trip to the upper Missouri.

One of the archaeological finds consist of a semicircular earth trench approximately 300 metres long and 90 metres wide. The southern side of the enclosure was formed by an old channel of the Bow River. Evidence was found of poles set vertically beside the trench. Within the fortification were ten oval pits which measured between five and 6.5 metres in width and were approximately one metre deep. Walde proposes the site was initially created as a quickly constructed protective fortification which was then modified to become a habitation site for a longer stay.

Archaeological excavations of the site have been conducted by the University of Calgary. Students working at the field school site gain firsthand experience and credits towards their degrees. Recovered archaeological material includes pottery, projectile points, stone tools, bone and shell beads. The arrow heads are identified as Plains Side Notched which is consistent with the estimated occupation age of 1700 AD.