Friday, March 29, 2013

Powissett Mounds

Powissett is an area of Dover managed by the Trustees of Reservation, adjacent to the Hale Reservation. It is an area of little hills, valleys, swamps, and small reservoirs. I went down there last weekend for the usual reason: less snow in that direction; and managed to push my tired legs along for a mile or so. Starting on Powisset Str. I headed north along the west side of small valley, saw a "U" structure but nothing much otherwise:
 (note the pit in the foreground)
The Dover woods are not familiar to me, I never found much there before and I don't know what sorts of topography are the most likely places to find rock piles in there. So I was headed for those lakes (Noanet and Powissett Ponds) to exercise the "down near water" hunting strategy. When I got to Powissett Pond, it was all dressed up as a summer camp, and so I spent mo more time around the edges and, instead, thought it was time to switch to a more upland hunting strategy. At the first opportunity, I headed uphill and was immediately rewarded. "Now that's a rock pile!"
There were a few more larger ones looming in the background (I live for that moment when I notice the "looming"). At first I thought this was a wonderful small collection of mounds. But I poked around more and there are actually perhaps 8 larger mounds, several smaller outliers, and a couple of house foundations, all in a quadrant of woods enclosed by stone walls. Later, when I left the site, I ran into a trail map, which helped me be exact about where I found the site:
Let me show you the first group of mounds. Here is another view of the pile I spotted initially: 
Is that a faint hollow on top? Here was another pile built onto an outcrop:
 And here was the next one. Ooh baby!
Is that a little hollow on top?
Another view. What a beautiful pile. Best I saw.
Under the snow, I cannot tell if this mound has a rectangular outline, or any polygonal corners. But it is pretty close to the same thing I showed you last week from Hy-Crest Pond in Sterling. These things are actually pretty universal, although I suspect them of having regional variations and differing ages. 
Nearby, on the way out to the sky, was an interesting "gap" configuration:
If you stood on the large mound and looked this way, you would see it at this angle:
The "vertical sides" are crisp dividers of the horizon.

After this, I poked around more and saw one thing after another.
Then I saw two building foundations:
What does this tell us? Assuming they are historic period foundations, either these mounds are also from the historic period or the people who built the foundations still valued this place and had some recollection of it. A mixture like this of mound and foundation is a bridge into the past.


pwax said...

I contacted the Hale Reservation because, in the past, someone from there showed an interest in the location of a stone "U" Keith had posted. So I thought I would let them know about these mounds. The response came back along the lines: "oh yeah. we have lots of Indian stuff".
I found this a bit annoying. Their publications describe Indians in the area and do a thorough job of confusing between the middle archaic (3K BC) and the historic period (1700). The attitude of already knowing, stands in the way of learning anything and is not doing their visitors any favors.

Tim MacSweeney said...

This sounded interesting: "At least nine ancient, felsite quarry sites have been identified on Reservation land, which indicates that the ancestors of the Powissett Indians also were frequent travelers or residents of the area. The felsite was fashioned into arrowheads, spears, and other objects. Archaeologists from Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology have determined that these sites were being used by ancient man as early as 3,000 B.C. — the date associated with the building of the Egyptian pyramids."

Anonymous said...

as with most of mass. woods, that place is full of discoveries. my personal first rock pile was found there