WARD EFFIGY ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Ward Effigy Archaeological Site is situated on 16 hectares of land just northeast of the Hamlet of Cluny. The central element of the site is the stone outline of a humanoid figure with discernible features including: slightly bent legs, male genitals, a rectangular body, a right arm, a heart, a neck, and a head. The effigy is located upon a low knoll on the southern end of a plateau with panoramic views of the Bow River valley to the south and the Rocky Mountains to the west. Two stone circles and a cairn are located west of the effigy.
The heritage value of the Ward Effigy Archaeological Site lies in its status as an exceptionally rare example of a Prehistoric stone effigy.
Of the thousands of archaeological sites in Alberta, only a tiny fraction - roughly a dozen - contain stone effigies like that found at the Ward Effigy Archaeological Site. The stone effigy near Cluny is a simple figural outline made of cobbles that depict a rectangular body and several anatomical features, including legs, an arm, a heart, a neck, and a head. The shape of the figure bears strong similarities to anthromorphs found in petroglyphs throughout the Northern Plains. The style of the Ward Effigy (consisting of an outline of the human figure, rather than a rock-filled body, and its prominent male genitalia) suggests that it was created during the Late Prehistoric period by ancestors of the Blackfoot people and that it may represent the trickster deity Napi. Located to the west of the effigy are two stone circles, likely tipi rings, and a cairn. The extreme rarity of effigy figures in Alberta and the spiritual significance of such places to modern Aboriginal people distinguish the Ward Effigy Archaeological Site as a particularly valuable resource for future research and interpretation and as a privileged element in the spiritual landscape of Alberta's Aboriginal people.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2052)
The character-defining elements of the Ward Effigy Archaeological Site include:
- its location northeast of Cluny on a low knoll in native prairie grassland at the south end of a plateau, and including expansive sight lines to the traditional winter camping area of the Siksika Nation in the Bow River valley to the south, as well as to the Rocky Mountains to the west;
- the size and arrangement of stones in a style thought to evoke the Blackfoot Napi deity;
- the potential for surface and sub-surface archaeological artifacts;
- two stone rings and cairn situated to the west.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Philosophy and Spirituality
- Peopling the Land
- People and the Environment
- Peopling the Land
- Canada's Earliest Inhabitants
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Aboriginal Ritual Site
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 2052)
Cross-Reference to Collection