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

 

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

A Grade 8 class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
B.C.’s return-to-school plan good, but Surrey teachers hope there is room for adjustments

Surrey school district to receive $1.76M of the $25.6M provincial pandemic-related funding

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Pier has reportedly been unused for a long time

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read