By Mark Bushnell - Published: June 21, 2009
When the Reverand David McClure of Dartmouth College ventured down the Connecticut River to the area now known as Bellows Falls in 1789, he was on a scientific mission.
As a natural philosopher, what we might today call a scientist, McClure was interested in stone carvings that he had heard about from a local young man. The carvings, cut into an outcropping on the Vermont side of the river, depicted a series of faces.
"The figures have the appearance of great antiquity," McClure wrote, noting that the British colonists who settled the area a half-century earlier had observed them. The faces were life-sized images, consisting of a simple oval with markings for eyes, nose, mouth and perhaps ears, McClure wrote. Some had lines sticking out of their heads that observers would take to be feathers, horns or rays.
McClure's was apparently the first written account of the carved rocks, which have been described as the oldest pieces of art in Vermont. How old? The answer, like so many others about the carvings, is open to debate. Though experts agree that the carvings were made by American Indians, they are unwilling to ascribe a specific date, or even era, to the petroglyphs, literally "stone carvings." They could be anywhere from 300 to 3,000 years old.
This is from a Vermont newspaper.