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 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

SIMPSON: The role of local government is changing

Mayor Bob Simpson outlines what mandate creep means for Quesnel

Researchers in B.C. say earlier than usual return of bats or dead bats can indicate trouble, such as signs of white-nose syndrome. (Cathy Koot photo)
Public help is essential for monitoring for bat disease

Anyone finding a dead bat is asked to report it to the BC Community Bat Program

In this Nov. 21, 2019 file photo, Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces the Cybertruck at Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne, Calif. The much-hyped unveil of Tesla’s electric pickup truck went off script Thursday night when supposedly unbreakable window glass shattered twice when hit with a large metal ball. The failed stunt, which ranks high on the list of embarrassing auto industry rollouts, came just after Musk bragged about the strength of “Tesla Armor Glass” on the wedge-shaped “Cybertruck.” (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)
FOREST INK: Electric vehicles the future, not present of industry

Jim Hilton looks at where electric vehicles need to go

Cassidy Dankochik joined the Observer’s staff in Aug. of 2020 by way of Gimli, Altona, and Flin Flon, Manitoba. (Photo by Tracey Roberts)
EDITOR’S COLUMN: Optimism at council

Cassidy Dankochik enjoyed the news from the City of Quesnel’s most recent meeting

Sandi Griffiths is the region’s new district manager of transportation for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
New MOTI district manager takes the wheel in Williams Lake

Sandi Griffiths replaces Todd Hubner who retired recently

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Most Read