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

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen to field COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing leads to stabbing in Nanaimo

Suspect arrested on Gabriola Island an hour after incident Wednesday, Feb. 24

The Gabriola Environmentally Responsible Trans-Island Express fleet will be able to move to a new depot facility after receiving more than $187,000 of community economic recovery infrastructure program money from the Province of B.C. (Submitted photo)
Gabriola bus system receives $188,000 from province for depot building

Old fire hall to be retrofitted and serve as new bus terminal thanks to COVID-19 recovery funding

Nanaimo-raised singer Allison Crowe with director Zack Snyder on the set of ‘Man of Steel’ in 2011. Crowe performs a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in the upcoming director’s cut of ‘Justice League.’ (Photo courtesy Clay Enos)
Nanaimo-raised singer records song for upcoming ‘Justice League’ film

Allison Crowe’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah closes out the movie

Submissions are open for Vancouver Island Regional Library’s new online arts and literature magazine, ‘Sea and Cedar.’ (Bulletin file photo)
Submissions sought for library’s new digital arts and literature publication

‘Sea and Cedar’ magazine an initiative of Nanaimo Harbourfront Library

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Most Read