Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More offbeat rock piles from a hill in Shirley

Coming back from seeing a small but legitimate site, I found a pair of rock piles in an area that was quite disturbed, there was some other nineteenth century structure, I forget what but for some reason these do not seem legitimate:

Wall Bulge in Shirley

I came across a large rock pile built up against a wall:It was part of an extended uneven heap of rocks forming a kind of ridge running down along the side of a pool of standing water, a little pond, to the right in the photo above. Here is a picture of the ridge, pond behind us. In this picture the wall and the bulge are to the left:I expect this is agricultural but wonder why the rocks are on the high place, rather than a lower one. Note the uneven sub-structures.

A little gully facing northwest - Shirley, MA

Went walking at a hill in Shirley which I know has rock piles on it, deciding to explore a part I hadn't been to. And I saw only the faintest of traces in several places. Once, where my path was obstructed by a fallen tree, I stepped aside and saw a pile I would have missed: It turned out to be one of four or five along the foot of a hill at the edge of the wetter ground that dropped off to the northwest. Several of these other piles had noticeable pieces of quartz in them (sorry for the bad pictures): Here, the quartz is part of a larger rock:The light was not too good. Were these really ceremonial?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gungywamp Society - Just Plain Wrong

posted by JimP

"There are no 'ancient Indian temples' in the Gungywamp area since it is a well known fact that nomadic and semi-nomadic Native Americans in the region did not construct temples of hewn or field stone . . ."

This is one of the most irresponsible and incorrect statements regarding Native Americans in New England that I have read in at least a couple of years. It angers me as much as the .Massachusetts Historical Commission's racist pamphlet about stone structures. "It is a well-known fact," to whom? To ignorance, perhaps. To someone who hasn't bothered to do the research.

FACT: Indians in New England in both pre- and post-contact New England did indeed use sacred sites featuring structures built of field stones. Furthermore, at least one early English colonist -- a Puritan -- actually drew comparisons between these sites and ancient Greek temples.

FACT: In Rhode Island there exists what has been called by some historians the Narragansett stony fort complexes. Queen's Fort, Wolf Rocks, Fort Ninigret, Great Swamp, Rolling Rock, and Shumunkanuc Fort are six examples. These sites were all either described historically as having been built using stone, or are still intact enough to this very day to actually see the stone structures. One of these forts -- Queen's Fort -- is on the National Register of Historic Places as a Narragansett site. If it is a well-known fact that Indians in the region didn't construct temples using field stones, no one told the Narragansetts. Of course, it isn't the use of the word, "temple," that is at issue.

FACT: There is at least one contact-period reference to a similar stone fort in Pequot territory in Connecticut -- in the area of Gungywamp itself. Sadly, the report is too vague to draw any conclusions about its exact location. And while I'm not willing to say that the 17th century writer was referring to Gungywamp itself, he was certainly referring to a stone fort erected by Indians in Connecticut.

FACT: The historical evidence strongly suggests that Indians in New England built their sweat-lodges out of field stones. Often, they walled up the opening of a natural talus cave or rock shelter. But sweat lodges built entirely from field stones were not out of the realm of possibility whatsoever. In fact, it's the only thing that makes any sense if one examines the historical data from the region. (I can even give you a historical reference that explains the purpose of the holes we find in stone chambers, and not an astronomical explanation either, and one that pre-dates modern interest in such structures.)

FACT: I can prove everything I've said to the satisfaction of any historian. Gungywamp Society, the opinions expressed on your website do this field of research, and the effort to preserve such sites, a tremendous disservice.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Serpent Mounds of Stone

A short stretch of stone wall ending with a large "head" boulder, looks like a serpent, and may have been made to represent one. Since Larry Harrop posted a nice example, Tim MacSweeney located pictures of another, and I found a few examples from my area. So how about a comparison?
Here is a "serpent mound" from Sarah Doublet forest in Littleton, originally made famous by John Hanson Mitchell in the book "Tresspassing". The "head" is to the right. Here is a closeup:
Here is one from Tyngsboro:
Here is one from Michael Hoye (via Tim MacSweeney) (I think this is the Breakneck Brook Wildlife Management area):
And here, again, is Larry's photo:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mylonite Projectile Point

A little gem from an eastern Concord corn field.
Around here, mylonite is said to be from Sudbury. It is often green, slightly translucent, and sort of jade like. This is a "Merrimac" point type called a "Stark point". They are from the Middle Archaic 3-5K BC.I nearly missed it as I stepped over it - it was the same color as the dirt.

Here are some back-lit views:

Searching for the Serpent

Trying to find the serpent pictured from and getting lost instead...

: Larry's link, in comments, is so interesting I (PWAX) thought I would add it:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Westerly Sun - Discovery of Indian remains ends housing plan for elderly

posted by JimP

Click here for the full article

"The senior housing was one piece of a larger project that calls for a total of 40 units of affordable housing to be built on a 3-acre parcel owned by the town. But to get to that site, the developers also needed to buy a 6-acre parcel owned by Cheryl Weeden of North Kingstown, which turned out to have an Indian cemetery on it when it was surveyed on Sept. 11 by the Public Archaeological Lab.

Alan LeVeillee, senior archaeologist with the Pawtucket-based PAL, said yesterday he walked the proposed housing site and did a visual inspection at the request of Washington County Develop- ment Corp. His preliminary inspection, which did not involve any digging, revealed not only a cemetery but also stone structures that may have been used by the Narragansetts in years past for ceremonial purposes, LeVeillee said.

Specifically, the structure may relate to a crowning ceremony, which the Narragansetts were known to undertake when they went into a new area and allotted a piece of property to a member of the tribe, LeVeillee said. Because of what he saw, LeVeillee said he determined that the site, by law, required further study before it could be used for the affordable housing project.

“It seemed to me that several things needed to be clarified,” said LeVeillee."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Southwest of Bare Hill Pond

I got mostly nothing for a weekend of exploring. A short stretch of stone wall in Harvard, a few nice pictures. A few rock-on-rocks, this one was impressive:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NEARA Fall Conference in Boxborough, MA

The weekend of November 13-15 Holiday Inn 242 Adams Place Boxborough, MA

There doesn't seem to be anything up online about this yet but the weekend field trips look good and I am going to participate. Where is the list of speakers?

Woods around home

An otter in Groton:and a rock-on-rock in Harvard:

Two Stories of Unktehi told by Lame Deer

"...Unktehi, the big water monster, was also turned to stone. Maybe Tunkshila, the Grandfather Spirit, punished her for making the flood. Her bones are in the Badlands now. Her back forms a long high ridge, and you can see her vertebrae sticking out in a great row of red and yellow rocks..."

Monday, September 21, 2009


Sometimes I think about the occasional stone deer head effigy and the idea that perhaps branches were once added to to these stones to represent the missing horns. Pete's post about the Another Uktena? without the horns made me wonder about branches (actual horns often get chewed up by animals). So I looked back at the links mentioned and found:
"Horned Serpent Petroglyph"
"Tim McSweeney sent me this link, to Kevin Callahan's Minnesota petroglyph web page:" I went to it, found it was working, and with the turtle mention, was surprised to find this further down the page:

"Turtles were both spirit beings and totems and sometimes had horns. The turtle was a symbol of the mother earth seen as a womb and was a symbol of fertility. In mythology the turtle, especially the snapping turtle, was associated with being a great warrior and was a frequent motif on warrior shields and war drums."

There's an interesting article at:, with these other names:

Misi-kinepikw ("great snake") - Cree
Msi-kinepikwa ("great snake") - Shawnee
Misi-ginebig ("great snake") - Oji-Cree
Mishi-ginebig ("great snake") - Ojibwe
Pita-skog ("great snake") - Abenaki
Sinti lapitta - Choctaw
Unktehi or Unktehila - Dakota

And then there's Wiki's link to:, "The Uktena And The Ulûñsû'tï," the latter "...a bright, blazing crest like a diamond upon its forehead..."

Plus some photos at: Turtle petroforms/petroglyphs over at my blog...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Another Uktena?

While lost under the direction-less overcast sky, at the Flagg Hill Conservation Land in Stowe, I finally stumbled across some familiar looking rock piles and was able to orient myself and get back back out in the right direction. While I was at this familiar site, I visited my favorite pile in there which, in the past, I thought was like a turtle. I remember looking at this with Dan Boudillion years ago. But I see more today than I did in the past, and noticed the ligher quartz rock behind the "head" This is a lot like the "Horned Creature" without the horns. See for example the discussion of Uktena here (scroll down). Here is a closeup: And a nearby companion pile: I think there is significance to that. This is a pattern I have seen three times: here, in Westford, and maybe also here.

Back of Flagg Hill - Stowe MA

All those Stowe conservation lands have sites in them. It is part of the "never disappoints" area south and west of here. I realized I had never been into the southern part of this conservation land, so I went to take a look. I entered via the southern entrance on West Acton Rd, south of Thistle Farm. Everybody makes rock piles and there are some modoern ones on the trail. But heading west, there is peculiar area of very large piles that could have been from some kind of tidy rock disposal, or some old types of structures I am not aware of, or something. So I have strong doubts about the nature of these piles. But interesting anyway and worth noting:
These are pretty nice rock piles:But there was something suspicious about them. For example, dirt on top of the boulder is not right:I leave it as an exercise for the reader to find the other more substantial sites in there.

Rock piles in Minuteman National Historic Park - Lincoln/Concord

I am going to be insufferably cocky about this one. Even driving east on Rt 2A, from Concord into Lincoln, there is a place you can see a rock-on-rock from the road. But it is so minor you cannot be sure it is any kind of remnant of the ceremonial. But you pass a dip where you can see the boardwalk to the north and a breakout zone jungle to the right and I have been thinking for years that I should really explore that breakout zone again. This is the very earliest part of Elm Brook. Of course I checked it out years ago but that was before I knew how to look for things, so I thought it would be worth another look. There, with the sound of Rt 2A traffic in the background in a little swampy area behind park and the houses, there do remain some genuine traces of the ceremonial. Nobody goes in there these days and probably it has never been very busy in there. And so you have these things where no one would dream of there still being traces of the Native Americans. Even so, there was not much, just a split-wedged rock:[Had to use the flash. It was raining harder and harder as I proceeded.]

Also a little remnant rock pile next to a big boulder in there: Looking at the map fragment I can see there is quite a lot more territory to explore in there (I stopped early cuz of the rain). Think of this as you drive past.

Around the Horse Farm - Nagog Hill Rd Acton

Went for a walk with FFC beyond the back of the horse farm into the Nagog Hill Conservation Land. Stuff all over the place back in there. So you step out of the field, across the stone wall, into the woods, and see a scruffy thing or two.....down into a little valley, the first hints of rock piles:and plenty of ambiguity as to the nature of the piles, of which there is quite a variety in there:Here is FFC looking at the remnants:We have just come down the hill shown to the left in the picture. But following the rock piles and the clues, led back up the valley till we were only a few yards from the field where we started.

The gem of this walk was a little marker pile site, no more than 20 yards across, on a little knoll directly behind the back field of the horse farm. A couple of views:
These piles were more or less evenly spaced and in lines. Here, FFC stands over a pile in line with the two others in the foreground:The spacing was about 9 paces between adjacent piles. Funny that ~9 paces and ~13 paces are such common pile spacings. Nice to know that there is another simple marker pile site in my neighborhood. If you look at the wider angle photos above, I took them standing on another small knoll directly next to the one with the rock piles. I was attempting to find a place where I could stand and see all the piles at the same time. I felt that was possible from this other little knoll, so that we could look at the piles towards the west over a near horizon, with the open field in the background today.

Some of the individual piles:
I want to say I am seeing a more prominent rock poking out the top of some of these piles but with there general state of dishevelment it could be a coincidence.

After this we went back down hill and it seemed that every small knoll in there had a few rock piles on it. And we explored around, in places we have been before, enjoying some of the other sites (or sights).I have said it before, and I do not think anyone believes me, but: most of these rock pile sites are marker pile sites.