On a hill overlooking Bayers Lake Business Park in Halifax, Nova Scotia, there are the remains of a five-sided stone building, a long stone wall, and a stone staircase, and no one knows why or when they were built.
Constructed with flat-surfaced ironstone slate rocks, the Bayers Lake Mystery Walls have been protected under Nova Scotia’s Special Places Act since 1991, after they were discovered during development of the area. Various archaeological groups have since studied the structures, but the artifacts uncovered have been deemed too young to offer clues about their origins.
The area is accounted for in documents following the sale of the land through the years, but none exist to account for the structures. While some believe they predate Canada, most believe they served some kind of military function during the early settlement of Halifax in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
They may have been used in 1758 to prepare for the storming of the Fortress of Louisbourg, or for defense during the war of 1812. Its elevated position on a hill, with a wide view of the surrounding area, suggest these kinds of answers to the mystery, as does the fact that when Halifax was founded, in 1749, it was used as a military garrison town.
In the summer of 2016, the Nova Scotia Archaeology Society was given a grant to rent an x-ray fluorescence system for analyzing the soil chemistry around the walls and fort in 2017, looking for phosphorus, as that indicates meals and flesh produced by those living at it. The very next year, and Jonathan Fowler of Saint Mary’s University came to the conclusion: these were sheep pens. May seem like a disappointing answer to the mystery walls, but it does explain why it doesn’t resemble other fortifications and has no paper trail to it, or even signs of anything like a hearth you’d expect from a home. Nevertheless, the Bayers Lake Walls represent not a mystery, but a wrinkle of history.
Know Before You Go
The stone ruins are monitored by trail cameras since they have been vandalized and parts of the structures removed without permission in recent years. Walking on the walls is forbidden because it can cause them to collapse.