Courtyard boulders reveal meaning

Geoff Collins, Associate Professor of Geology, told us about the boulders that are placed around the courtyard.

The architect’s plan for the courtyard included several massive boulders, and I saw this as a fabulous opportunity to put in something meaningful rather than some random rocks.

Matt Evans and I took several trips last year to identify potential rocks to go into the courtyard, and then we negotiated with the landscape architect and the landscape contractors to arrive at a final plan. About half of the rocks came from Betsey Dyer’s family farm a few miles away. The most exciting part was when I helped to supervise the crane lowering in the giant boulders!

The boulders in the courtyard are all local rocks from southeastern Massachusetts, and are designed to reproduce on a small scale some of the important geological structures underlying Wheaton College.

Students who are confused about the relationships among rocks observed many miles apart on field trips can refresh their memory with this representation where the “outcrops” are just a few steps away from each other. Careful observation and mapping of these rocks by an advanced student will reveal a new layer of meaning, hidden in plain sight.

Professor Collins took many photographs of the courtyard boulders as they were deposited with tremendous precision and care. Here is their story as told through his camera’s lens.