Friday, May 31, 2013

Stone Piles now being recorded by Mass Government

From Massachusetts Heritage Landscape Inventory Program 27 Bolton Reconnaissance Report
Which I read here:

Parenthetically: this is not a site I have located.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Benjamin Hill, Shirley

I was about done exploring without seeing more than one pile, near a brook gurgle. And I crossed over a gully and saw something interesting. It looked like a rock pile:
It was a nice rectangular mound:
Let's take a closer look:
There is a piece of quartz at the near corner. Closer:
Do you agree there is a little "cup" of rocks above it? 
Let's step back. The pile overlooks a gully with a bit of standing water in the bottom. A few paces uphill, a faint trace of stone wall runs along (to the right in this picture:)
The wall fades away and, just past the pile, re-appears to turn at a right angle towards the pile and end in another piece of quartz. Back at the pile, let's look at details from the other side:
I see a bit of structure there. The pile has two tiers: to the upper left and lower right, with another small piece of quartz between.

Some photos from the springtime

This boulder on the beach in Tiverton, Rhode Island has some extremely worn and eroded markings that I believe are Indian petroglyphs.
The most obvious that can still be made out today are a pecked triangle and a shallow cup mark. It has been suggested that this cup mark could have been used as a mortar, but the small mortars like this that I have seen have been on portable cobbles ("nutting stones"), with mortars on boulders usually being much larger, in my experience.
Cup mark:
Here's the triangle. The triangle seems to have been an important shape, New England Indians decorated some of their pottery with triangular marks.
At Fort Hill in Eastham, Massachusetts is another large boulder marked with grooves from prehistoric Indians sharpening tools. The boulder has been moved from its original location and surrounded by concrete but the sharpening grooves are impressive. It is marked on a trail map and there is a sign at the rock that explains the markings. Is this the only place in New England where a sign marks a place where people today can see something that Indians made? I can't think of another example.
Here's an interesting bit of structure at the top of an embankment at the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum, North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Arrowheads were found nearby, long ago.
An interesting wall, Middleboro, Massachusetts.
On Memorial Day I spent all day searching for arrowheads. I walked so many miles, my legs still ache two days later. I searched in five different places and found nothing in four of them. But I had some luck in the first place I stopped, I spent 4 hours there. Here are my finds. The big red felsite piece at right is crude and I think it was a scraper. The arrowhead in the middle is a nice find, and the one at bottom left is a whole one, though it is asymmetrical, probably reworked down from something bigger.
I really like this one. The base is damaged.
Somehow after I left the field I seem to have lost the broken triangle at bottom center in the group shot. I hope it is in my car but I haven't been able to find it. It is just a fragment and most people would not recognize it was an artifact but this is the first time I have ever lost any of my finds. I spend so much time looking for this stuff, I need to be able to keep track of the things that I do find. But really my hobby is looking for these things, not necessarily finding them, or even keeping them.

A Photo from "Connecticut’s Indigenous Peoples"

Another plate from the book, showing a "turtle mortar" site in Torrington.
(with links that might bring you back to Rock Piles)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Luci Lavine on NPR

via Tim MacSweeney:

Two Faces on a Stone

Someone asked me what I thought about this stone (not in person, just somewhere online).
I thought I'd pose the question here, about this "silkstone" carving...
"cat head carve in rock the rock was plow up in the bottom"
(the finder writes)
"the other side of the rock found in 1980 on beaver creek floyd co ky"

Monday, May 27, 2013

Underwater Stonework

Norman Muller writes:
One of those photos of underwater stonework that Tim posted reminded me of a feature Larry Harrop found on one of his walks in Rhode Island, which consists of a stone circle with a small standing stone in the center.
...another example of a small standing stone surrounded by a circle of stones.  This one is found in Tennessee, and can be compared with the photo of the underwater example posted by Tim.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spruce Swamp Brook - Linear stone mounds along a brook in Shirley

Let me now get to the meat of what was interesting on my walk at the Holden Rd Conservation Land in Shirley. A few steps after finding that first pile, I thought I saw a stone wall off to the side of the trail and went to have a look. The "wall" turned out to be some exposed rock in an artificial berm about 40 feet long with a conical mound at one end.
I took pictures as best I could in the bright light.
After a while, I noticed some auxiliary piles and little notched dimple made from larger rocks on the far side of the mound. Something like this (birds-eye and profile):
Here is a picture looking down the berm towards the mound. In the foreground is a smaller pile with a bit of quartz:
 Here we are looking from the other end, towards the mound:
The "notch" is behind the tree. Here is a better picture, with the berm now visible off the the right:
Finally, here is the back side of the berm. You can see it is a big structure.
The auxiliary piles were hard to photograph. Here is one that is almost part of the berm:
And another:
So I contented myself with the flowers:
 One more auxiliary:
After seeing this unusual linear "mound" I continued along the same ridge of land, and a few feet later it became a composite of trenches, hollows, and piles...until I got to the mound next to the wall I wrote about yesterday. Essentially, as soon as you step into the woods on that conservation land trail, there is a non-stop site to your right. 
After that I walked west, saw other structures [I'll tell you about later], and circled south and back east till I got back to the brook-maybe 1/4 mile south of where I was before. Here there were even more substantial man-made berms along the side of the brook. Were they just from field clearing? These are big tiers in two levels above the brook:
Seen from above, the berm rises above the level of the ground level:
 Actually, a couple of separate berms in one place:
So that is it. These linear structures are not so common and a bit peculiar. I hesitate to compare them to other things but field clearing does not create structure above the level of the ground like this. Reminds me a bit of Blood Hill. The strategy of following the Devens stone wall map, the strategy of trying to squeeze some ceremonial sites out of that sandy region along the Nashua River - payed off. And it is telling me I should go look at Benjamin Hill next.
Update: A bit more about this site, later, here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fort Devens Stone Wall Map - online

A second look at Spruce Swamp Brook in Shirley. Hunting for sites using the Devens stone wall map

I went for a great walk in Shirley. Now let me tell you, Shirley is one of those towns in the Nashua River valley, like Lancaster, Lunenburg,and Fort Devens, where there are not may rocks and where I never found much in the way of interesting features. It bothers me that there is a big swath of countryside between here and the hills of Leominster where there are no good areas to explore. Yet people lived there and probably did not walk to the nearest rocky town for their ceremonies. So there must be something in to be found.

The stone wall map from Fort Devens offers hints. It shows where there are stone walls, and where there are walls -obviously- there are rocks. Some places the walls look quite strange. Using this map I looked for places where walls go crazy and where it was also conservation land. So I settled on a place in Shirley, near a hill I found sites on before. 

And it was good almost as soon as I stepped into the woods. Here is a bit of that map:
Right above "A" is Holden Road, running diagonally. There is a conservation land entrance and you walk south about 100 yards to get to"A"- where there was a first rock pile (see Monday's post). See the small knoll directly south of A?(click in on the map to magnify). That is a big rock pile, not a natural feature. 

Just for fun, a stone wall is shown on the map, running past the southern end of the knoll. Here is that spot, with the wall to the left and the rock pile (and other piles) to the right.
Here is the back side of the same wall:
In this second view, we look back at one mound touching the wall and another beyond it.
The whole area is full of loose, messy piles which did not photo well. 

So that is the background for exploring at A, B, and C. Actually the best stuff was before seeing this knoll. And later, at D, where another mistake occurs on the map: it is not a stone wall but a linear mound. More to follow.

A Little Underwater Comparison

Yes I did post some photos about an underwater site, perhaps from a "less than reliable" sort of website.
Below is a photo from a more trusted source showing some boulders that don't look quite as "fresh" as the cobbles in the "pristine" site with the "anonymous discoverer," who I suspect might just as well be called the "anonymous hoaxster builder."  
Divers examining boulders at the bottom of Lake Huron that served as caribou drive lanes for prehistoric hunters.
What's the obvious difference?
"You decide," as they say.
(And I've posted this link before: - just in case you want to compare it to almost anything found here: )
I'd also be willing to wager $1 that the "anonymous discoverer" has a bumper sticker or magnetic ribbon on his/her car that looks much like this:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mostly broken stuff

This past weekend I went out and spent some time looking for arrowheads. I worked pretty hard at it but came up with nothing. I can't complain, though, because I had some pretty good luck in a couple of places the previous weekend, May 10-12. We had had some really heavy rains, I couldn't wait to get out to look because I knew I would find at least something. Not a lot of quality artifacts, but it might have been my weekend record in terms of quantity if you count all the broken tools I found. Here is a picture of the total finds for that weekend, Friday through Sunday.
There are broken arrowheads, fragments of arrowheads, a couple of scrapers, a broken scraper, and a few mostly whole arrowheads. Incredibly, most of that stuff was found in two hours on Friday after work. This picture shows just the Friday finds.
All quartz. That big thing on the left is a scraper (I think), crude but whole. Number 4 in the second row is nicely made and it is a shame it is broken. There are three (relatively) whole arrowheads: a big chunky triangle showing a lot of wear, a super thin point probably reworked down from something else, and a tiny triangle, with flaking on one side only, carefully chipped from a quartz flake.
Saturday morning I got out there again and found a few more crude or broken pieces. The one in the middle below is a hafted scraper, it is made that way and has a stem like an arrowhead, pretty neat. That red rhyolite arrowhead is broken and was not well made but the material is pretty.
Sunday Dave and I went to a different place. I spotted this after less than five minutes. It's right in a vehicle track as you can see. When I spotted it I assumed it would be broken.
But, it wasn't. I think the material is felsite. My best find in a while, I was really excited by this one.
Dave and I searched there for hours but came up with very little. Dave found a broken base of a huge quartz triangle, it would have been massive. A little while later I found a very similar base! I don't have any other points of this shape and size, even broken ones like this. The one Dave found is the top one in this picture.
It's raining again as I write this. Somewhere out there in the dark, stone tools wait to be picked up.