Sunday, August 31, 2008

Another plant ID question

[Not rock pile related but part of a continuing series of: "name that plant"] Can anyone tell me what this berry is? I tried one carefully and it was sweet.It's the time of year for colorful photos.

Hammonassett Three

Above: Rankin Weir at Hammonassett

I didn't plan this out or anything, but by coincidence I ended up taking a daytrip, as promised a month ago, to Hammonassett yesterday because I worked a double shift yesterday, filling in for another staff member. I had heard about a stone weir visible at the end of a trail there from Dr. Rankin and found I could see it in the distance, but couldn't walk to it.

And as I walked back to the parking lot, I noticed the split boulder, something I would have walked right by thinking it was "natural" but now think of as intentional, thanks to RockPiles...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Remant structures by a wetland in Groton

Here is a ridge just east of a wetland. Around a larger boulder on the ridge were traces of structures. Not just rock piles but also little groups of rocks in a line running for ten or so feet across the ridge and down into the water. One connects with the large rock along the way. Here is one view with the wetland to the right.See the big rock is in line with a line of rocks that comes up from the left and goes off towards the water to the right of of the rock. A small rock pile is visible in the foreground. Here is a closer view of the big rock:Some other things nearby, included more piles:And more little lines of rocks leading towards the water:It is all very indistinct. Call it what you like, native American or colonial European, this is a little archeological site with no obious interpretation. The only familiar sight is stone lines running over a ridge and down towards water.

If that is going to be the theme, I might as well put this here. A picture, also from those same Groton Woods, of a short stretch of stone wall

Rock piles at the end of outcrops

By an "outcrop" I mean a ridge of bedrock with little soil so the rock shows through, and not more than 20 or so feet wide - an exposed ridge of bedrock at an elevation drop-off. We have seen different types of enhancement to outcrops including filled cracks and little alignments running along the outcrop. Outcrops often appear over water and they always give some kind of view outward. Narrow, there is a sense of place, especially at the end.

I saw this in Groton last weekend a the end of an outcrop, looking southwest over water:There is a ciruclar opening formed by the pile that is about 6 or 8 inches across the inner diameter. Any ideas what it might be?

Another pile at the end of an outcrop, a short distance from the above:

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hammonassett Part Two

A photo by Melissa Pionzio (above), lifted from her blog and little more about the Boulder, which I find is known as Joshua Rock:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A small rock pile site in the Marlborough MA woods

I was exploring an area of Callahan State Forest that was mostly just empty oak and pine woods and was surprised to come across rock piles. There were six or so similar piles built up on rocks and, to one side, a larger broken down "platform" pile built in a faint gully. I imagined viewing the smaller piles from the platform. I took a few pictures, noticed the flat faces on some of the piles (which by the way were not in line with the platform), and went on to explore other parts of the woods. This is on the side of a little valley and, pretty much across the valley to the southwest and up on a higher shoulder there was a single much larger rock pile. It might have been visible from the first site marking a line of sight on the horizon.

Here are some panoramas from the first site. [I had a smudge on my lense so the pics are not very good]. These are all pictures of the main cluster of rock piles.Some pretty nice individual piles:That is pretty "flat faced". Someday I hope to understand sites like this. What is it for? I see sites with flat-faced piles so often.

Here are some views of the larger "platform":It was in a bit of a gully.

Another interesting feature was a larger boulder with smaller rocks leading up to it.
Look at the side view:
The state park marked trail goes right by this place. Recently people were piling rocks over there at the nearest place along the trail.
I often find recent little play rock piling on a trail near where there are real piles. Do the makers notice the older piles in the background?

Now let's go across the valley to the south and look at that single larger pile. Here is a first view:
Here are other views. I was quite taken with the pile although I could not convince myself it wasn't a field clearing pile. It was in otherwise open pine woods with few rocks in general. A stone wall nearby and this could well have been a plowed field. Still it is nice to find a large pile and I think there are hints of damaged structure here:
Not to put too much weight on it but: this simply does not look like a field clearing pile. I would like to think this pile is not really isolated and is visible from the first rock pile site across the valley - it is only a hundred yards or so.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Old Well - King Phillip's Woods Sudbury, MA

Last post about KPW, I promise. I took lots of other pictures, there is lots more to observe and more to think about in terms of the history of the place. This, again, was a home to Indians during the earliest colonial period. Then 50 years later a son or grandson of Massasoit, started a war. Here in Sudbury, according to the story, was where they fought the last battle that the Indians won. After that they had exhausted themselves and never recovered. They abandoned this land.
Did anyone live here after that? Maybe but it also looks like someone came back and performed ceremonies until maybe not too long ago. Someone remembered the place and built rock piles. Other piles look quite old and run down. There is a lot to look at there.

Effigy Rock piles from King Phillip's Woods - Sudbury, MA

Most would find it hard to believe that Native Americans would have made rock piles. So the idea that some rock piles might be sculptures is probably even harder to accept. But some rock piles do seem to have a kind of deliberate shape. In the cases below there is one larger rock at the edge of the pile which might represent a head and there is an axis of symmetry running through the head. It could just be a coincidence but it may be worth supposing it is true. So, before we leave King Phillip's Woods, I wanted to show you these examples.

Here is one:In this case the head is to the upper right and the axis of symmetry runs diagonally from upper right to lower left. A flatter, pointed rock opposite the head at the other end of the axis could be a tail. Here is a side view with the head to the left:I believe this pile is un-damaged - a rare thing in itself. You can judge for yourself how much bi-lateral symmetry is visible across the axis, in the first picture. I see plenty and wonder: could this be a representation? Of what? (I guess I would go with something like a squirrel.)

The above pile was in a group of three or more piles that all had the single larger rock. It might be just a remnant, as these piles do look damaged. They don't show much symmetry:
Another one shows a hint of deliberate structure, a line of rocks slanting from the top of the pile forward and to the left down the side of the rock. This pile is clearly in the process of being scrambled around.Damaged though it is, a sort of construction principle is still visible, if not a design.

Here is another symmetric pile from a little ways away:
In the picture you can see FFC's feet at the upper left of the picture, standing on a rock. Follow the line of rocks from the upper left there, down to the lower right where there is a last rock next to the tree in the foreground. That line of rocks is an axis of bi-lateral symmetry. Here is a view from the other direction:
Again, I leave it to you to judge how much symmetry is there. Again, I think there is plenty. Is it representational? Does anyone want to venture a guess?

These rock piles with heads and faint traces of symmetry are not all that common. I would not expect to see a number of them all in one place unless they were intentional. Not a coincidence.


If you happen to drive by the entrance to Hammonasset Beach State Park (, you might want to take a look at this boulder and the stone rows that extend on either side of it...

I posted some rather poor quality pictures at "Waking Up", and will add here the link I couldn't yesterday, from an April Fool's Day article in the NY Times from 2007:

I just happened to run into a former co-worker, whose family just happened to be part owner's of the airport in the article. He just happened to tell me of all the artifacts he used to find there as a kid....

And I'd like to meet Dr. Rankin who is mentioned in the article: "Imagining how the landscape lent itself to use by an earlier civilization becomes easier after taking a tour led by Donald Rankin, a Madison resident and retired doctor, who teaches classes on Native-American culture in Hammonasset Beach State Park — named for a local tribe — which hugs the Griswold property...On a recent balmy March morning, Mr. Rankin, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and baseball cap, pumping his fists for emphasis, showed a spot in a field near the Meigs Point Nature Center where, in 2005, he found a white quartzite rock that had been fashioned into a scraper. He also pointed out a crater, 35 yards in diameter, in a ribbon of woods between a campground and Route 1. Production at this early 20th-century gravel pit, he said, was halted after workers stumbled upon artifacts. The site was brought to Mr. Rankin’s attention recently by workers building the Shoreline Greenway, a bike path that runs past it.
From a platform along the park’s eastern edge, where the forest meets a vast salt marsh, Mr. Rankin introduced Weir Rock, which slopes upward from green grasses. A narrow crevice that slices through its middle section would have been ideal for trapping salmon swimming upstream to spawn, he said.
Even if the Griswold dig reveals nothing significant — after all, it will target only a few areas, and nothing under the buildings or runway — Mr. Rankin remains a believer.
“Beyond a reasonable doubt, there are many burial sites here,” Mr. Rankin said, the roofs of hangars visible behind him. “To Native-Americans, the airport would be considered sacred land.”

Monday, August 25, 2008

What kind of mushrooms are these?

[Not rock pile related]A bit like the French delicacy. This is the second time I saw this kind recently. My Father taught us about the more common mushrooms but I never saw this kind before.

Update: they are called Black Trumpets

Rock with quartz

It is good to get out.

Tumbled down stone wall?

When you walk along next to a stone wall you sometimes notice places where the wall is tumbled over. Trees occasionally fall on a wall and other events like passing animals or mild earthquakes can reveal a weakness in the wall. When this happens, the tumbled off rocks are next to the wall and the wall is lower and has a break or gap in it at the point where the tumble occurs. So I was walking along next a wall paying slight attention and came to this:
Closer:Here we have a sort of tumble of rocks next to the wall but the height of the wall remains constant in the stretch passing the tumble. This suggests it is not a "tumble" but rather a more deliberate addition to the structure. It is about 7 feet long, and I don't have to tell you what would fit under there.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

King Phillip's Woods like Quisset Woods

After just seeing these things in Woods Hole and reporting on them, they showed up again at King Phillip's Woods last weekend. A stone wall starting on one side of an outcrop and then extending as a short stretch down into the waters of the wetland:It reminded me of the short stretches of wall leading down into the kettle hole.

And the adjacent propped rock reminded me of what I called "Mavor's Dolmen".
These places seem designed within a common framework.

A small cluster of rock piles at a sping

More King Phillip's Woods. This little group of rock piles, around a sping. The first has some internal structure.

Speaking of enhanced outcrops...

...I guess this is as simple as it gets: This other propped rock nearby, caught FFC's eye:Some kind of Manitou stone.