This stone pillar discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer was taken into care by conservators at the Royal B.C. Museum. Curatorial staff at the museum have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to determine its use as a cultural stone or marker by Indigenous peoples in the area. (Bernhard Spalteholz photo)

This stone pillar discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer was taken into care by conservators at the Royal B.C. Museum. Curatorial staff at the museum have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to determine its use as a cultural stone or marker by Indigenous peoples in the area. (Bernhard Spalteholz photo)

Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed as Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

A 100-kilogram carved sandstone pillar, discovered by a person walking along the Dallas Road beach at low tide last summer, is an Indigenous artifact, according to Royal B.C. Museum curatorial staff.

Having thoroughly examined the find, consulted with Indigenous leaders and delved into anthropological records of the area, RBCM curator of archaeology Grant Keddie believes it to be a Lekwungen ritual stone pillar, used for such ceremonies as celebrating the first salmon, puberty rites or feeding of the dead.

The significance of the artifact as part of local First Nations history, and the subsequent research into its use and meaning has Indigenous leaders excited.

This stone pillar discovered on the beach at Dallas Road has been taken into care by conservators at the Royal B.C. Museum. Curatorial staff at the museum are working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to determine its use as a cultural stone or marker by Indigenous peoples in the area. Photo by Bernhard Spalteholz

In a release, Chief Ron Sam of the Songhees Nation called the news a “clear reminder of the long history of our people living in this region.”

He looks forward to learning more about the stone’s history and use, while Chief Rob Thomas of Esquimalt Nation voiced excitement about the potential for finding similar stones in the beach area.

“Our hope is future discoveries may tell a fuller story of the stone’s history,” Thomas said.

RELATED STORY: New branch of Royal BC Museum to be built in Colwood

Keddie helped recover the artifact from the beach on July 16, 2020 four days after resident Bernhard Spalteholz photographed it at low tide on the rocky beach between Clover Point and Finlayson Point and informed the RBCM.

In his online blog about the find, Keddie recalled an article he wrote in 2012 that referred to “cultural stones,” the presence of which was described to anthropologist Franz Boas in the 1880s by a Lekwungen elder. One location recorded by Boas was “not far” from gun batteries at Finlayson Point in Beacon Hill Park.

“This newly discovered artifact could be the very one mentioned by Lekwungen elders,” Keddie wrote. “The location is correct and it’s clear at some point in the past a large section of the cliff has slumped into the ocean above where the stone was found. I have also wondered why this stone had not been found before.”

The four-day lag between the RBCM being informed of the stone’s location by Spalteholz, and its retrieval, provides a clue. Keddie wrote that the stone was only visible at extremely low tide, and even on the day it was recovered, was submersed.

With the stone cleaned and being stored at the museum, discussions are underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees nations to come up with a suitable final home for the artifact.

ALSO READ: Songhees Nation to open two Victoria cannabis stores spring 2021


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Royal BC MuseumSonghees Nation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road earlier this month. Museum curatorial staff are working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road earlier this month. Museum curatorial staff are working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)

Just Posted

The Gordon Head Recreation Centre stands in as the Quimper Regional Hospital on Feb. 23 for filming Maid, a 10-part Netflix series. (Greg Sutton/District of Saanich)
Netflix transforms Saanich recreation centre into hospital for filming

Facility was closed to public Feb. 23 for filming of Maid

Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fighting fire a family affair for Colwood Assistant Chief Greg Chow

With 38 years of service, Greg Chow is the 2021 Hero of the Year

Various Victoria locations were hit with a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti Wednesday. This image has been altered to cover up profane language. (Submitted photo)
UPDATED: Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti an ‘unacceptable’ form of communication says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Most Read