So I just reported on a site in Sterling at the headwaters of Rocky Brook where I noticed a few things that might barely be noteworthy:
- small rock piles clustered along the edge of a wetland
- at the headwaters of a brook
- split rocks
- an elongated triangular shaped rock-on-rock
Here was a magnificent split wedged rock:Then after my fall I spotted a rock pile and...away we go. I photo'd this little combination:
Had I not just last night been blogging about "elongated triangles" I would not have noticed that the upper rock in the picture is the same triangular shape. Maybe I am just imaging that this is significant.
Here are two rock piles in the ferns, at the wetland's edge:The near pile had a very interesting and distinct feature (and not something I saw in Sterling). It had a vertical "fin".(Further away)I see these finned rock piles occasionally. I am remembering one I saw at the Conant Land in Carlisle a while ago, also at a wetland's edge.
What a beatiful spot with the piles in the ferns:Most of the piles, unlike these visible ones, were so low and covered with dead leaves that you had to step on them before you noticed them. I started a bit west of the northernmost edge of the wetland but worked my way around to the eastern side, and stopped seeing piles. But I continued southward on the eastern side of that swamp (hey how about a map fragment?)
After not seeing much I did see one quite different type of rock pile: a larger oval mound, completely buried, perhaps ten feet long:A trail and a couple of long boardwalks took me back across to the western side of the swamp, then north and back to my car where (not atypically) the police were waiting to snarl at me about where I parked.
But let's come back to that first cluster of piles on the northwestern extreme of the swamp and some characteristics:
- a wedged rock
- small piles clustered along a wetland's edge
- an elongated triangular shaped rock-on-rock (propped up at an angle)
- a finned pile
So I think we are making some progress towards recognizing certain basic site types. Let me list the ones I can think of and let me work on tidying up the ideas over time - eliminating them, modifying them, so to speak: savoring them. I don't know to what extent these classifications are real or generalizable outside of my Eastern Massachusetts/ Middlesex County sampling territory.
Wetland's Edge Sites - sites with small piles clustered along a water's edge, etc.
Monumental Pile Sites - big rock piles and short stretches of stone wall, mixed with smaller piles; all with a sense of overall site organization and layout.
Cellar Hole Sites - with piles on boulders around a cellar hole and pile-gap-pile features.
Marker Pile Sites - with piles evenly spaced and somewhat in lines. Some piles with vertical sides, etc.
"Burial Pile" Sites - sites with low circular ground piles not in any pattern, having one or two pieces of light rock (usually quartz), with a few piles built on boulders near the edges of the group.
I do not know where effigy rock piles fit into this, they might be mostly a feature of the wetland's edge sites and I failed to see that perspective last weekend. That big oval pile on the western side of the Carlisle swamp was something different again. I have seen things like that in a few other places but they are not part of a more comprehensive feature list; not that I can describe anyway. It seems to me there may be some merit to writing down these feature lists, or at least thinking about them collectively when looking at a site. It makes sense to include topography and other landscape features in the list. There may be some merit to writing down minor observations - since they may turn out to correlate with other sites, but you wouldn't notice, you wouldn't remember where you saw that before. All of which may, in the long run, help to get a sense of the different uses and different cultures that left these rock piles in the woods.