Wednesday, November 14, 2007
A small Wachusett facing rock pile site
I have written about what I call "marker piles" and, in particular about marker pile sites which face Wachusett [for example here] [especially here] [or more generally here]. The idea that Wachusett is a central location in the Native American spirituality of eastern Massachusetts first was told to me by Curtis Hoffman. At the time I did not think there was that much basis for the idea and, in the end, I do not think Wachusett was by any means the only such important location, or that viewing distant prominent hills is the only reason for building a rock pile site. Up north of here, in places like in Westford, Tyngsboro, and Townsend, there are very similar rock pile sites that face towards the west and northwest - certainly not facing Wachusett. (Perhaps they might be facing Monadnock.) Anyway these sites appear near a hilltop on a slope facing a prominence and the piles are similar in size and tend to be evenly spaced and in lines. Occasionally there will be a single (?) pile with a piece of quartz. That one pile will look a lot like a grave but this is a very particular context of a pile with quartz and I do not think these sites are graveyards.Last week I noticed a small hill east of Wachusett and, liking to explore out that way (I think it was East Princeton), I headed out on Saturday. I saw some nice woods and eventually got up to the hilltop. There were houses there and I was prepared to be disappointed but I skirted the development hoping there would, at least, be woods to the southwest in the direction facing Wachusett. There was and I was walking along, saw one rock pile hidden in the pine needles and then realized there were numerous low piles - almost completely buried in the duff. At first seeing a white quartz piece in one pile, I thought: "hmmm....graves?". But then I saw the three piles in a row, evenly spaced. This swung my opinion over more towards it being a marker pile site. Here is another occasional feature of a marker pile site: a single rock-on-rock with a curious suggestive shape near at the upper side of the site: (For reference, here is one of the nicest of all marker pile sites I know (in Stow MA). Note the single pile with quartz and the single example of a rock-on-rock. [Click here]) You can see this rock-on-rock at the end of line of three items, two rock piles and this rock-on-rock. Although you probably cannot make it out through the glare, here is a view of Wachusett, to the southwest. The white tower at the top of Wachusett was visible when I took the picture. These piles are more substantial than you would think at first glance. They are very broken down and well covered: Finally, here is a bit of a panorama to help give the mood of the place: Taking this picture, Wachusett is off behind my left shoulder.