Sunday, November 30, 2008

A rock pile and two caves from Groton MA

Reader Jon A sent some photos from Groton:[Note this is not a pile fallen off a boulder but a pile built up against a boulder.]
First cave:Second cave:Note the pile of rocks built, presumably as a wind break:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A large cairn found by Larry Harrop and Bob Miner

Larry writes:

Bob Miner and I saw this yesterday while hiking the Pachaug State Forest in North Stonington, CT. The site consists of a very unusual stone wall leading to a large cairn built on the side of a large boulder. We thought that you and your readers would be interested in seeing this.

Image #1 shows an unusual stone wall coming down from the top of an outcrop.
Image 2 shows the same wall taken from the top looking down on the cairn,
Image 3. Close-up of the cairn.
This picture ( image 4) shows Bob Miner pointing his meter stick towards a large quarz rock.
Image 5 shows the boulder on the right side of the cairn.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Bennington VT Pyramid?

Huh? [Click here]
(Note the date)

“On the Archaeology of Stone Piles and a Late Archaic Date from Site SK 155, RI" written by Alan Leveillee and Mark Lance - Review by James Gage

James Gage writes about an article that appeared in the Fall 2008 (vol. 69 no. 2) issue of Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society:

The site is located on the edge of the Great Swamp in South Kingston, RI, an area of cultural importance to the Narragansett Tribe.

The site was located during a standard archaeological survey along a corridor being used to lay a utility line. The survey used the standard test pit procedures and located various Native American artifacts and a hearth feature. 1x1 meter excavation units were opened up to further investigate the hearth which was designated “feature 1.” Charcoal from the hearth was AMS dated to 4340 +/- 40 years BP. The hearth feature was adjacent to a granite boulder. At the request of Narragansett Indian Historic Preservation Officer Doug Harris, the excavation team opened an additional unit on the opposite side of the boulder. The excavation unit exposed a “nearly complete ring of intentionally laid cobbles on the top of the boulder” (p. 60). This was designated “feature 2.” The authors stated that “The piled stones that constitute Feature 2 were near the surface, surrounded by and within a plowed soil stratum. It is an apparently intentional grouping of stones, all of which are too small to have been set aside during field clearing or plowing. Narragansett Tribal representatives in the field interpreted the stone cluster features as ceremonial …”

The authors go to great lengths to point out that the hearth and the rock pile are not chronologically related, they are in two distinctly different soil stratums. I agree completely with their assessment. The authors suggest that the rock pile dates from the historic period, an argument which is supported by the archaeological evidence. The authors are also extremely careful to establish the fact that the ceremonial interpretation of feature 2 is the interpretation provided by the Narragansett Tribe. However, it is equally clear that the authors have rejected the field clearing hypothesis for this feature.

PAL recommended that the features be preserved in-situ because they are part of “a location of interest and concern to the Narragansett Indian Tribe.” (p.63)

Alan Leveillee, Mark Lance, PAL, and the Massachusetts Archaeological Society should be commended for their willingness to explore the controversial subject of ceremonial stone piles.

Gender Analyzer (not rock pile related)

I would have been disappointed with any other result.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quartz at the junction of stone walls

I guess this could have been a whimsical gesture or something with a more specific meaning:
closer...I saw this out where Rt 2 crosses Rt 495 in an area just north of the well known "Boxborough Esker".

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rock piles by a swamp by the highway - Rt 495 Harvard

Walking in Harvard is great when you can find un-disturbed woods. Here are some panoramas of the site next to that swamp I talked about here.
The piles were mid-sized with large rocks, and they looked like they were evenly spaced, suggesting a calendrical use.

Let's have that owl again, which I saw on the way out.

Stone Circles next to boulders

When was the last time we looked at this? Good stuff.
Here and Here

Coming up to a rock pile site (Harvard, MA)

(I really have to do some blogging.) Picking up from my last post, I went into a conservation land off Brown Rd in the Harvard/Bolton area west of 495. That western bank of Beaver Brook is one big extended rock pile site and there was this one little bit of swamp and hillock, adjacent to and visible from the highway, that I knew I had not figured out how to get to. So on my way home from a disappointing walk down in Bolton, I decided to try harder to figure out how to get there and, in the end went in the conservation land entrance on Brown Rd and then hung a sharp right to go down along the edge of the conservation land behind the houses there. I thought there must be something to see since there are so many rock piles in the general vicinity. So sure enough, as soon as I got to unexplored territory, heading further downhill, I started seeing new rock piles at a low density. In fact there were several entire knolls down there and more to explore than I realized. Here is a little pile next to the beginning of a brook.This gives you an idea about how recently people were in here building rock piles. But my guess is that this Beaver Brook/Elizabeth Brook watershed divide has always been a highway and always been an important area to the Native Americans. Here in Harvard, Boxborough, Bolton the Indians must have been living or at least visiting until quite recently. [Interestingly there is no such recent activity in many places, so I figure this tells us about Indians in the historic period.]
I cannot remember the context of this one, it was at the foot of the slope getting down to the swampy area. Proceeding further I came to water in a place that matched my impression of the swamp next to the highway. Looking across the water there was a little island.

The water here is standing water backed up by a beaver dam.
As I looked across (longingly) at this island I could see what looked like two rock piles out there - one to the right behind the large fallen down tree, the other to the left at the highpoint.

So I started across the beaver dam but I was pretty sure I would fall off into the water, so I took the picture and then reversed course, disappointed. Then I followed the edge of the water back aways and my disappointment started to ease after seeing this (there are 7 piles in the picture):


I found some online aerial photography from 1934 - and could see many zigzag stone rows, including one I walked along this yesterday. The row I walked along was partially buried in places by historic field clearing and even a boulder split with metal tools. It formed a zigzag border for the riparian zone on one side and I wondered if the other side was bounded too.

Looking at the 1934 photo I see that the stream was bordered and connected to other rows...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Crude Tool" Again

Here's that possible hand tool again, from over by some power lines, on a hillside that I think contains alot of turtle "sculptures," along side of some other possible tools, all of a nice "turtle foot"shape, to be stored at the site...

Turn them over and the top four have very smooth sides. The new power line one doesn't...

I can hold it a couple ways and see some more working edges perhaps...

...maybe even a big drill looking thing...

...but maybe it was broken and never used much - except maybe as a turtle foot on a hillside full of effigies...

The "worked/knapped" edge...

The broken edge...

Overlooking a pond

by theseventhgeneration
This is a site about halfway up the side of a mountain in NY, overlooking an impoundment in the Delaware River watershed. I've posted more at Two Headwaters blog about this site. Here are a few pictures.
This is a close up of the cairn visible just in the background, to the left, in the prior photo.And these two are part of a row that forms an enclosure around part of the site.A strange combination of structures here. I will be back out at this site next month, when hunting season is over.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A small rock-on-rock grouping - Harvard, MA

This is from Harvard but it reminds me of this (from this post about the Danforth Brook area of Bolton.) The idea of a grouping is re-enforced.

Not counting individual rocks there are six visible structures in this photo forming a sort of "V" with the large rock-on-rock in the foreground as the apex. There may be a few more rock-on-rocks but that is about it. Go all the way to the end of the right-hand side of the "V" to find this pile (behind a small sapling in the above picture)
Here is a look back at the large rock-on-rock:You, my collegues, find and show pictures of marvelous rock pile sites. Do you also find these small inconspicuous ones?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Rock

Up by some recent bulldozer activity by some nearby power lines, I found some rocks...

Any thoughts?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Revisiting An Old Friend - Usquepaug, RI

by JimP

I recently directed Larry Harrop to a propped boulder I had discovered back in 2004 on an outcropping in a conservation land near Usquepaug, RI. Here's what it looked like then:And now:This feature is unique for two reasons -- first, because of its obscurity. It sits well off the trail of a relatively unknown preserve hidden away in a low-traffic rural area. The boulder itself is generally not accessible. One must overcome bull briars and underbrush to reach it.

So how did I find it? I followed the signs in the landscape. Another stone feature on the property pointed me directly to it. This stone wall with standing end stone:That stone wall climbs the side of the outcropping and slowly comes to an end short of the top. On top is the propped boulder.

What else is unique about this propped boulder? It has a nice pocket of quartz sticking out of the top which appears to have been quarried a bit. Here's a closeup from Larry:Certainly, the shape of the boulder suggests the head of a bird of prey. This kind of shape is relatively common for Rhode Island propped boulders. I know of four, and I'm certain there is more.