July 26, 2013 just happened to be the last field day for students enrolled in the Langara College annual Archaeology Field school. Most of the day was taken up with field surveys within the 400 ha Stanley Park, located west of the Vancouver downtown area. Stanley Park is a semi-wild area of forest, beaches and various attractions – but mostly forest intersected by trails that most tourists (and locals) tend to stay on. Not so archaeologists – we venture off the beaten track to locate and record culturally modified trees (CMTs), petroforms, middens and other features (including bush camps made by a number of the homeless).
The surveys we conducted on 26 July included the discovery or re-recording of several CMTs, middens, bush camps, a couple of interesting petroforms as well as a recent (very recent, i.e, some hours previous) scatter of cremains – cremated human or animal ash and calcined bones, probably human. These were located between a poorly constructed wooden seat and the cliff face looking westward across the ocean – a good viewpoint and logical spot to scatter ashes.
The cremains were certainly interesting (as were the contemporary bush camps), but what really piqued student interest was a recent petroform – a stone circle.
Measuring 180 cm (inner diameter) across, the petroform is constructed of granite rip rap ‘salvaged’ from a nearby ditch undergoing repair. Students were quick to note that this is a fairly recent construct and were invited to develop hypotheses to explain it. Neo-paganism was the consensus.
A return trip to gather more detailed measurements is planned – as well as to try and figure out why there are copper bells hung about 10 meters up a nearby tree and closer investigation of a stone cairn built into a bark-stripped CMT base.