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During one of our recent trips, we decided to stop by the Judaculla Rock. Located in Cullowhee, this is the best known petroglyph site in North Carolina.
What’s a Petroglph?
Petroglyphs are images inscribed in rocks. Native people made the markings by pecking directly on the rock surface using a stone chisel and hammerstone. When the top surface of the rock is chipped off, the lighter rock underneath becomes exposed, creating the petroglyph. Some petroglyphs, created during rituals or ceremonies, while some may tell a story.
Who is Judaculla?
According to Cherokee Legend, Judaculla (or tsulkalu meaning “slant-eyed giant”) lived high upon Balsam Mountains. He guarded his hunting grounds from Judaculla’s Judgement Seat. This is known today as Devil’s Courthouse (Read more here)
Legend has it that once a group of hunters came through the land without asking permission to hunt. Judaculla chased them down the mountain. With a giant leap the large giant landed near Caney Fork on a large boulder. Putting his hand down to steady himself, he left a mark on the rock’s surface. The impression of his hand can still be seen today.
More on Judaculla Rock
Archaeologist believe that intensive use of the area began over 3,000 years ago. This would have been around the time soapstone boulders were quarried for making bowls. Petroglyph carvings began around 1,500 years ago and likely continued until European settlement disrupted Cherokee life and traditions 300 years ago.