Encouraged by the snowmelt, on Friday as I drove to work I started looking out the car window and speculating about exploring around the edges of a "Great Swamp" I see there on a stretch of Rt 495 just east of Rt 38, in Tewksbury. I mentioned this later to Bruce McAleer who pointed out that this area used to be a Praying Indian Village called "Wamesit". Sure enough the name persists on the topo map and on the local businesses. If I had known that, I would have been intrigued but, based only on driving bye, I could see an nice patch of woods between the highway and the Home Depot, with ups and downs and the kinds of rock and water that always looked worth exploring. So Saturday I went out and started poking around.
Right next to the highway was quarry hole in the schist bedrock. I try to imagine what would be worth quarrying coming out of schist? Some mineral or metal?
Anyway this left the vicinity pretty trashed out and the one hint of rock pile I saw, was not too compelling because of this trashiness. Here is a view back towards the quarry with a bit of a rock pile in the foreground.
I don't trust isolated rock piles. Perhaps there was something else nearby but just hidden under the snow. Anyway I poked around a bit here and then crossed a railroad track, east of the Home Depot, and found another small patch of woods, isolated, leading down to a wetland.
As soon as I crossed the tracks I thought I saw a rock pile. Here was the view:As I looked at this first pile, I saw it was adjacent to a second one.
Here is a view back uphill from the lower pile:
The observation, which became clearer later and was only hovering at the edges of thought at this point, was that these two pile lined up the knoll with the edge of the swamp. Looking back uphill it looked like there might be a few other things along the line uphill. I did not check that out till later.
Then I found another pair of rock piles further back on the same knoll. In retrospect, these two also make a line from high to low, perhaps parallel with the first line, leading from the knoll down towards the wetland.
Walking around on top of the knoll I noticed a couple of rock-on-rocks. Then back down to the water to look back towards the knoll.
There was another pile down here, I would not have noticed unless standing next to it.
This looks a bit like an effigy, with that larger "head" rock to the left.
After this I climbed the knoll, to see where the "line" between the first two rock piles extended and to look around more carefully. Here is another look up that line:
The line seems to pass to the side of a rock and then goes through a gap between two rocks. Let's go up there and look back down the line:
I think gaps between rocks, like this, are important. They suggest a gateway, and this is re-enforced by the rock alignment passing through the gap. This structure of a pile-to-pile alignment passing though a gap is the most significant observation, to me, about this place.
There were a couple more rock-on-rock up on top of the knoll:That one to the rear looks like a fallen off rock-on-rock.
Looking at the details, note the mark left on the lower rock, where the lichen growth stops leaving an imprint in the shape of the upper rock, where the upper rock once rested.
There was also a large boulder up there with a sense of an attached outline.
This, I thought, was where they "partied".
After this I poked around a bit more to make sure I had seen all there was to see (I doubt I did) saw a couple more rock-on-rocks, and this little upright stone at then end of an outcrop with a rock-on-rock on top.
All in all a typical small knoll-by-wetland site. Some subtle aligntment, hints of effigies down in the wetland; rock-on-rocks, and a few other hints. The site does not seem very ancient, too fragile to have been left unchanged for long.