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Key Number: HS 21158
Site Name: Ribstone Heritage Monument
Other Names:
Site Type: 1315 - Governmental: Monument, Cairn or Statue
1910 - Archaeological Site


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
46 12 4

Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape:
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Concrete
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure:
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes:
Exterior: N/A
Interior: N/A
Environment: SW Section of 25, Township 46, Range 12, W4M. Plan 6011KS, Parcel A containing 0.809 hectares more or less excepting thereout all mines and minerals and the right to work same. The land containing about 2.00 acress, more or less.
Condition: N/A
Alterations: N/A


Construction: Construction Date:
Usage: Usage Date:
Small park

Owner: Owner Date:
Lumir G. Dolry
Provincial Government
Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Alberta as represented by the Minister of Community Development
Province of Alberta

Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: 'Ribstones' or 'stone gods' have been found in several places in central and southern Alberta. These objects, of sacred significance to many Indians, are stones carved to represent the ribs of the buffalo, in solemn recognition of how important the buffalo was to the Indian way of life. Gifts of beads, tabacco or meat were offered occasionally to these rock hewn gods which often were located atop of imposing hill. These petroglyphs are a reminder today of other forms as well such as stone piles, mosaics, tee pee rings and medicine wheels.

Press Release, 1959:
The first of 25 historical cairns to be erected by the Government of Alberta was unveiled April 30 at the site of 'The Ribstone' near Viking.
Two rocks, carved and chiselled so as to resemble the ribs of buffalo, are marked by the cairn. The ribstones are believed to have had a sacred significance to Indians of this area for more than 1,000 years.
According to legend associated with the stone carvings, Indians sacrificed buffalo on the stones at the commencement of each hunt, in the belief that such sacrifices would ensure success.
The cairn was unveiled by Viking's mayor, Selmer A. Hafso, left and Lumir G. Dobry, on whose land the stones are located. The wording on the bronze plaques reads: 'The Ribstones'. These stones which resemble the ribs of a buffalo undoubtedly had a sacred significance in some primitive cult concerned with the fertility of the buffalo and are thought to have been graven well over a thousand years ago. All subsequent Indian tribes down to modern times venerated them.'
Other historic cairns to be unveiled this year will mark sites of forts, Indian battles, massacres, stopping places, etc. This program will be completed in conjunction with the Department of Economic Affairs program of rustic historic signs. Over 20 signs are now located on Alberta highways with approximately 20 new ones to be erected this year. The new signs will mark old trails which cross the highway and not the location of historic sites not on the highway.
The program of installation is being handled by the Publicity Bureau of Mr. Patrick's Department. (press release, 1959)
New plaque erected 1963.
The text of a sign on Highway 14 eight miles west of Viking read as follows in 1973:
'Three miles south of here lie two large stones carved with a design resembling the ribs of a buffalo. These 'ribstones' probably had sacred significance to the Indians for hundreds of years. All that is certainy known is that when the first white settlers arrived in the area, the Indians were still leaving gifts of beads, tobacco or meat near the ribstones so that they would have good luck in hunting. An Alberta Government cairn has been erected at the site and the area designated a Provincial Historical Park.' * * * Ribstones Historical Site Plan No. 2013 - General O.C. 847/59 Dated May 27, 1959.
All that parcel or tract of land, situate, lying, and being in the Forty-sixth (46) Township, in the Twelfth (12) Range, West of Forth (4) Meridian, in the Province of Alberta, Canada, and being composed of:
All that portion of the SW quarter of Section Twenty-five (25) of the said Township as shown outlined in red and designated Parcel A upon a plan of survey of the said parcel of record in the Department of Lands and Forests at Edmonton as No. 2013 General and on file in the Land Titles Office at Edmonton for the North Alberta Land Registration District as No. 6011 K.S.
The land herein described containing by admeasurement Two (2.00) acres, more or less.

* * *
An Alberta provincial cairn was erected and the ribstones and 2 acres of land purchased in 1959. Lumir G. Dobry formerly owned the land. A road sign was also erectedd (circa 1963) to tell travellers of the site.

* * *
Site Description:
The site consists of two ribstones created some time in the prehistoric past by aboriginal peoples. In addition, there is a cairn constructed by the Government of Alberta in 1959 to commemorate the Feature. These items are all located near the top of a hill approximately 11 miles southeast of Viking. The hill is currently maintained for use as a historic monument and a day use park. When the surface was ploughed and seeded to grass in the 1950s, abundant artifacts were exposed. Currently, only the ribstone are visible.

Historical Significance:
Aboriginal peoples left offerings of meat, tobacco or beads at ribstones to acquire luck in hunting and to give thanks to Old Man Buffalo, the spirit protector of the buffalo herds. Only nine ribstone sites are known to occur in Alberta. These are one of the rarest types of archaeological site within the province. All other ribstone sites have been extensively disturbed and, at most, the ribstones have been removed. The Viking Ribstones are one of the few monumental carvings remaining from ancient times which can be viewed in their natural setting.

Archaeological Significance:
The Viking Ribstone are tough quartzite boulders which have been modified by Aboriginal people. They pecked two kinds of mark into the boulder surface: grooves and pits. The grooves are thought to represent the backbone and ribs of the buffalo. The circular pits or 'cupules' may have been carved in imitation of the pock-marked surface of the Iron Creek Meteorite which is considered by some to be the aboriginal peoples greatest and most venerated monument to 'Old Man Buffalo' the spirit protector of the buffalo herds.
Heritage Significance:
'Two large rocks labouriously carved adn chiselled with lines resembling the ribs of buffalo are marked by a provincial cairn on the farm of R.G. Dobry near Viking.
The ribstones are believed to have had a sacred meaning for the Indians sacrificed buffalo on the stones at the start of eachhunt, believing that the sacrifices would ensure success.'

* * *
Information Sheet
Viking Ribstones Archaeological Site near Viking Alberta
1. The Viking Ribstone site was purchased by the Government of Alberta in 1959. A cairn was constructed to commemorate the significane of the ribstones.
2. The site was declared the Ribstone Provincial Park Historic Site pursuant to the Provincial Parks Act by Order in Council 847/59 in 1959, and was transferred to Alberta Community Development along with 22 other Historic Sites in 1974. With the exception of the Ribstones all of the other Historic Sites were designated as Privincial Historic Reosources in 1976.
3. Mr. Ed Stelmach, M.L.A. Verevill-Viking supports the designation of the site as a Provincial Historic Resorce.
4. Alberta Justice has advised that, as the site is owned by the Government of Alberta as represented by the Minister of Alberta Community Development, there is no requirement for the Minister to issue a Notice of Intention to Designate.
5. The Oders Designating the Viking Ribstones a Provincial Historic Resource have been dated April 12, 1994.


Status: Status Date:

Designation Status: Designation Date:
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1989/07/14


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0111
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