Milas Parker sits behind Judaculla Rock. Image from the State Archives.

Judaculla Rock, Cherokee Petroglyph of Prominence

On March 27, 2013, Judaculla Rock, a soapstone boulder in Jackson County, was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Though commonly identified simply as a boulder covered with ancient and mysterious engravings, Judaculla Rock is the best-known and largest example of an American Indian petroglyph that can be found in North Carolina.

The petroglyphs, or rock art, at Judaculla were carved intermittently within the Late Woodland to Late Mississippian periods from about 500 A.D. to 1700. The rock itself is actually one of several petroglyph boulders within a 15-acre area that is an archaeological site of great significance.

A wider view of Judaculla Rock, circa 1935-40.

The site is also a landscape component of a prominent Cherokee legend that chronicles the vast supernatural and physical realm of a creature known as Judaculla. Cullohwee, six miles from the rock, is believed to be a shortened and anglicized form of Judaculla-whee, meaning Judaculla’s Place.

Today, the Judaculla Rock is managed by Jackson County, which received the property in 1959 as a donation from the Parker family, very conscientious caretakers who still own the surrounding lands. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee is a principal partner in efforts to protect, enhance, and celebrate the site.

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Images from the State Archives.

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