Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Visit to Cheney Audubon Preserve part 3, April 3

Ted Hendrickson continues:

Descending the ridge and crossing the path I shot some closer views of the triangular standing stone from last week.
Continued on the trail past the stone cabin, foundations and root cellar/chamber (more on that another time). We came across some large piles/mounds that were associated with walls and bounded fields, kind of like the ones at the Perry Preserve in Stonington. Felt like field clearing to me.
Further along an intriguing pile on boulder with a piece of quartz in the center of the pile.Looping back along the path back toward the cabin a more dramatic mound came into view, accompanied by a smaller "satellite" pile on a slope. Well made and not associated with a close-by wall, these were more curious to me. Closer examination showed it had a flat top.
Both piles had been apparently disturbed and had depressions like someone had been digging into the piles? This is the uphill end of the larger pile.


pwax said...

Using rocks from a cleared field is a natural, and I imagine common, way to get material for rock piling. Where the material came from is an auxiliary topic, unless the pile is an obvious rock dump - which is not true here. Did you ever see the David Lacy part of Ted Timreck's movie? He talks about Indian farmers leaning up against their piles, saying "These are just field clearing piles" and then turning around and having a ceremony there, later in the day. Also we have to remember that farming took place at what might have been a ceremonial site in the past - with the farming activity blended in over the ceremony. In any case, these are not incompatible, not "either/or".

Looking for the signs of ceremonial activity, to me, it is is evident in the good construction and the design of these piles. In particular, those hollows are pretty interesting to me, since I am on a "hollow" craze. Also that small satellite pile. I wonder, since the trail cuts between it and the larger pile whether there might have been a physical connection between them in the past?

Finally: awesome site!

Norman said...

Somewhere -- it could have been in Jeremy Belknap's History of NH -- I read that colonial farmers in the 1700s and earlier sometimes settled in deserted Indian villages, simply because they provided land free of trees. This overlay of one cultural tradition on another, as Peter says above, is what we often find when we encounter stonework in the woods. Some of it is colonial and the remainder is Indian. But after familiarizing oneself with both for a considerable length of time, it is possible to differentiate one from the other in many cases (I recall driving to a site near Hallstead, PA, where there were spectacular barrel-shaped cairns in someone's back yard. My first impression was that they were Indian, until the owner said his father built them in retirement. As I looked closely, I could see that the patina on the stones was not well developed. This incident has always served as a cautionary note. Then there is Dan Boudillion's Picture Glossary of stone structure in New England, where he illustrates two constructions by Flint Furbush in Littleton, MA, which have become known as "Furbush Formations."