Vermont February 05, 2018
This Roadside Attraction In Vermont Is Fascinatingly Rare And Downright Baffling
According to Wikipedia, petroglyphs are “
images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, or abrading, as a form of Rock Art.” Sure enough, there are petroglyphs in VT and they are awesome, although it’s hard to determine exactly when they were carved or by whom. Let’s take a look at these rare etchings and why their origins have left us a bit perplexed.
Welcome to Bellows Falls!
Bellows Falls, an incorporated village in the town of Rockingham, is well known for its rich past. But in addition to being historic, these petroglyphs could indeed be
You'll find these carvings into the bedrock near the Vilas Bridge. They depict a rarely-seen assemblage of anthropomorphic (having human characteristics) figures which are very rare in Vermont, and uncommon even in surrounding geographic areas.
They are located about 55 feet south of the Vilas Bridge.
Each panel contains a series of figures interpreted as human heads, with mouths, eyes, and radiating projections.
There is a smaller set of petroglyphs about 35 feet south of the bridge.
The southern panel is roughly 5 feet long and has eight figures. The northern panel which is about 10 feet long, has sixteen.
Their origin is not known for certain, and various hypotheses date them anywhere from 300-3,000 years old.
In 1789, researcher David McClure gave the first known account of these petroglyphs. He noted that "the figures have the appearance of great antiquity" and believed they were etched by the native people of the area, the Abenaki. He went on to write that he thought the carvings marked the presence of evil spirits.
Interestingly, McClure only noted 3 faces, when today you will find many more. Did he not see them? If so, why did he not mention them? Or were they perhaps carved after his discovery?
We do know a bit more about potentially additional carvings here, though.
In the early 1930s a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution hired a professional stone carver to "recarve" the figures.
While we're sure their intentions were good, it made identifying and verifying their origins more difficult.
The most common speculation is that they were made by the Abenaki.
If this is true, there are a few things that back up this theory. The orientation of the carvings is westward, and in Abenaki legends, once you die your soul travels west when it leaves the body. These carvings may have been left to point the souls in the right direction to their afterlife.
Additionally, there is an Abenaki burial ground close to petroglyphs.
In addition to these petroglyphs in VT, check out what else
this historic town in Vermont has to offer!