This is about rock piles and stone mound sites in New England. A balance is needed between keeping them secret and making them public. CONTACT: email@example.com
Another thing that bothers me about the donation pile concept, is the incentive it gives to ignoring actual details of a situation. For example in this picture some of the "donations" are sizeable rocks. Note they are placed like walls at either end of the split, with smaller rocks in between. Is this a coincidence or intentional structure? My point would be that if we are limited to the idea of donation piles, this would tend to suppress the question and would tend to dismiss the observation. That does not sound good for science.
I think you have the wrong impression of so-called donation piles (and I will agree that is a HORRIBLE name for these features.) It wasn't simply fist-sized pieces of stone carried to a boulder and cast on top. Instead, it was the materials that were on hand that determined what went into a pile. Why are there bigger rocks in that split-filled boulder? Because that's what was nearby. Why were there very few smaller stones on Sacrifice Rock near Plymouth? Because there aren't a lot of stones there, so they either carried them to the boulder, or cast brush upon the pile.
In certain instances, such as the feature under discussion, the width between the split halves of the boulder must have been a major consideration in deciding what size rocks should be chosen to bridge the gap. Several nearby small boulders apparently were enough in this instance. Using them meant less labor expended overall, than had dozens of fist-size stones been selected. For a split boulder in Montville, CT, with an aperture of a little more than a foot, a wall-like structure of small rocks was constructed to bridge the gap.
"Bridging the gap" sound like a function different from the making of offerings in propitiation.
Widely separated split boulder halves were probably viewed differently than those with a narrow gap. Then one has a third and different example from Pomfret, VT, where a semicircle of stones has been constructed at one end of the split boulder, each end of the necklace of stones touching one end of the split halve, and symbolically connecting them. There is also a similar construction in Holliston, MA.
Thanks Norman for providing examples that suggest there is much more going on than is mentioned in the ethnographic literature.
No one EVER said that there isn't MORE going on than what's in the ethnographic literature.There's a big difference between inventing a fancy name and function for these features based on nothing but your own personal observations -- versus using what we know of the ethnography to draw conclusions about such features.The latter is good scholarship. The former will make your work as important as James Arnold's druid theories from the 19th century.
Accurate descriptions of what we see, but for which we have no ethnographic evidence or explanation, are also important and may eventually lead to real insight.
How do you suppose they study Stonehenge?
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