Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A large old mound in Harvard, above the headwaters of Great Brook.

I had a chance to practice "mounds where the water meets the sky, above a navigable brook" at the spot indicated by the blue outline. Although I missed the southern bits of water on this map fragment, they all feed into Great Brook in Bolton, which becomes Elizabeth Brook. The valleys and hills of Elizabeth Brook and Beaver Brook are written about in Manitou by M&D in sections on Oak Hill and the Boxboro esker. Here is a part of Oak Hill that is a little further south.
I walked along the brow of the ridge, starting from the conservation land below at East and Bare Hill Rds. In most places I was able to see down the side but, in places like this in Harvard I concentrated on the brow of the hill. 
video
So, I came to a big messy mound. I believe it has characteristics like this:
 - An outline at either end. Here on the left:
And at the far end:
With a bit of quartz (seen from below):
- Remnants of well built walling:
- An overall complex structure (note what the stone wall is doing below):
- And (the clincher) a small satellite pile, closeup:
and in relation to the larger part:
A fine example:

4 comments :

Tim MacSweeney said...

"Mention of Bare Hill is found in records as early as 1657, and at first as "the bare hill." The name was presumably descriptive, as were Still River and Plumtrees Meadow, which were introduced in details of land allotments about the same date. It was a custom of the Indians every November, when the weeds and grass were driest, to set fires about their villages. These swept through the woodlands, destroying all underbrush save in the wet swamps. Where the summer's growth had been most vigorous, as upon 'the intervales’ and the more fertile swales, the fires found abundant fuel, and were often fierce enough to kill all tree growth, root and branch. Thus were prepared for the coming white man their planting fields, their pasturage commons, and their much prized meadows. The uplands by these annual burnings became open groves, free of bush and bramble, and were described by writers of the day as resembling the English parks. If we may trust to the name as spelled, the hill east of the great pond in Harvard had been largely shorn of its woods like the meadow lands, and this may perhaps have been one reason why this elevated and somewhat rugged region was so early chosen by husbandmen for their home..." History of the Town of Harvard, Massachusetts: 1732-1893, Volume 1
By Henry Stedman Nourse

Tim MacSweeney said...

Coincidence: we both photographed two curving "serpentine or snake-like" stone walls. I posted a view of what might be another One Horn. Did you get up close to any of the large boulders in the wall?

pwax said...

While writing this article, I repeatedly wanted to show a map of all the other large, decrepit, mounds sites I have found along the same land-form (the inner part of Oak Hill). For example there are similar mounds just east of the Harvard University Observatory Lookout Tower at the edge, before the slope drops off. There are a few others here and there in Harvard and there is another bunch down in Berlin.
But when I go to my topo maps that show all the sites found along that hill/ridge (it forms the western side of the Beaver/Elizabeth brook valley) there are so many OTHER kinds of rock piles sites at the foot of the hill that I cannot tease them apart casually from the mounds above - as I would want to document this post. The ones at the foot of the hill are more like marker piles and water ceremonies. And they are younger and less beaten down.
I'll work on the map for the mounds sites up at the brow of the ridge.

pwax said...

Tim: the wall was following the logic of the water. It surrounded the top of the wetland,into two branches climbing the ridge with my "mound" between the two and my side, and going off somewhere else on the other. I did not look more closely at the wall except in relation to the mound.