Robbins Swamp

(North Canaan and Canaan, Connecticut)

Main attributes of this Native American place: Archaeological; Native practices; Landscape.

Robbins Swamp is an extensive wetland complex, comprising more than 1,500 acres. The stony edifice of Canaan Mountain rises above the swamp, which is the largest freshwater wetland in Connecticut. Geologically, the wetland is the legacy of a post-glacial lake. An archaeological study of the lands surrounding the wetland found evidence that Native American land use occurred at the swamp as early as 10,000 years ago. Wetland complexes of this kind were extremely important to Native American subsistence over thousands of years, because of the abundant varieties of plant and animal life that were available for gathering and hunting. Among the many archaeological sites that have been recorded in the vicinity, there is evidence of Paleoindian and Early Archaic settlements, which began shortly after the last glacial period.

Thoughts to consider as you stand upon this place: For many thousands of years, this place offered a reliable, abundant source of plant and animal foods for the Native people of the Upper Housatonic as they followed their annual cycle of subsistence. For thousands of years, this great wetland complex was the Indians’ “supermarket”.

Contributor: Timothy Binzen


Nicholas, George P. 1990 The Archaeology of Early Place: Early Postglacial Land Use and Ecology at Robbins Swamp, Northwestern Connecticut. Ph.D. dissertation.