Friday, December 30, 2011

Last rock piles of the season?

I still have later today and tomorrow to explore in 2011 but, if it doesn't snow, I also have Sunday and Monday before my long "vacation" ends. I found employment. The recent obsession with rectangular mounds in Acton continues with finds in Fitchburg along Falulah Brook and, more surprising, a find at Newtown Hill in Littleton, MA.

Definition: A Wachusett Tradition Mound is a rectangular rock pile, more than 10 feet across, with one or more hollow depressions in the upper surface. (The hollow may be represented by an external "tail"). We'll say that a rock pile is Wachusett-like if it shares the basic dimension, or if it has a hollow, or if it is not rectangular but has hollows. From the point of view of these definitions the find in Fitchburg is a typical Wachusett Tradition site and the site in Littleton is more Wachusett-like. Forthwith:
I was not out driving all the way to Fitchburg in order to explore hilltops (smaller blue outline to the left, blogged about here) but to circle a wetland that seemed increasingly hard going. So I cut my losses and went downhill to the northeast back to Falulah brook. I should probably leave it all here with this video.
NIPMUC COUNTRY
video
That being said, as I got down to within a few feet of the brook, I came across a damaged rock pile:It is Wachusett-like since it has "rectangular" and "hollow" attributes but is far gone. A few feet away was something much better defined, a good example of a Wachusett Tradition mound:These are close to other mounds a hundred yards downstream where Ashby West Rd crosses. Finding these two rock piles, extends the boundaries of the site as I knew it.

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In Littleton, I have been to Newtown Hil before and been a little disappointed. I decided to climb over the hill and stay to the right, since I never did that before. This turned out to be a good strategy. Coming down that little wet valley on the north side of the hill, I saw a little rock pile where it first started getting wet:
Then further down, there is an L-shaped structure in the wet:I have found a number of such structures next to brooks. (Recall some from Forest Hill and Elbow Meadow.) Then...OOH! Big Game:
I find it interesting that there is a main pile (to the rear) and a smaller auxiliary pile to the left. The larger one is not rectangular but has multiple hollows. It was my impression that the piles above from Fitchburg also were in an arrangement of a larger one next to a smaller one. Another view of the larger:
The larger one was more polygonal than rectangular. This might be because of the available boulders. Here is the scene. These guys certainly have their feet in the water. What a lovely find! A view of the large mound from the other direction:
The outline is sort of diamond-shaped. A video from above:
video
Closeups of the smaller pile:
Then "down the valley" a rock pile I saw years ago. I guess I did not know, back then, to always explore in all directions around where you see something. Or I might have found the above Wachusett-like piles earlier. Now this whole valley is a big spot on my topo maps. There were several piles down at the bottom where the swamp begins, some I walked right past without noticing when I was here before. Others that I have photoed in the past.
See how this pile looks out over the swamp?Another, made from large blocks of rock:Is this even Wachusett-like? I say "yes" because of the overall site, where each pile acquires some of the attributes of its neighbors. So, an interesting site with some small outliers and larger mounds with hollows, and an L-shaped structure - all with their feet in the water.

1 comment :

Tim MacSweeney said...

I was thinking about the stone piles I know of that have their feet wet. They usually occur inside of a riparian zone that is more often bounded by stone rows than not, leading to a source place (where the water emerges from under ground)with kind of an enclosing ring of stones, sometimes a large boulder - although one place has one of those stone rows that you can hear the water flowing under it.