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  • Defined by Tides through Time: Three Puget Sound Petroglyph Boulders

     … pictures and poetry and music are not only marks in time but marks through time, of their own time and ours, not antique or historical, but living as they ever did, exuberantly, untired.  -Jeanette Winterson, Art Objects

    The three most significant petroglyph boulders in southern Puget Sound are of the tidal zones.  All three are glacial boulders, arriving on the shores millennia before the carvers marked them.  Two are granite erratics; another (Agate Point) is fine-grained gray-green sandstone.

    Surging tides, flowing water, wave action, and, in one case the physical relocation of the boulder, continue to reshape the markings and how they are seen and imagined.  Researchers have also affected physical change through rubbings, castings, and removal of barnacles - indeed, barnacles for decades have encrusted the Agate Point boulder to near obscurity. 

    Yet the clarity and power of these faces and eyes and other forms convey a compelling presence – … living as they ever did. 

    Marian Smith (1946), Edward Meade (1971), Beth Hill and Ray Hill (1974), Richard McClure (1978), Klaus Wellman (1979), and Daniel Leen (1981) have all devoted attention to these boulders and published photos or drawings of the petroglyphs. Leen’s overview in particular was a carefully considered and comprehensive summary.  

    The Squaxin Island and Suquamish tribes have more recently taken strong public interest in the cultural importance of the boulders.  One of three boulders, originally from Harstine Island, called the Love Rock by the tribe, is now a centerpiece of the Squaxin Island Tribe’s Veterans Memorial near Shelton.   

    See Puget Sound Petroglyphs gallery