Thursday, December 13, 2018

Where Stuff Isn't

My lack of posts recently is not for lack of exploring. I have been driving back and forth from Concord to Woods Hole along a new route - Rt 95 which takes me past several towns I have rarely been to. I try to take a walk on each trip.

Lately that means Foxboro. Back in the day, Foxboro State Forest was well spoken of in NEARA circles  - I think because of the standing stones, perched boulders, and stone "U"s. I remember going there long ago with Alan Ruster and seeing a few rock piles but no major sites.  Now, driving past on Rt 95, I see some nice looking pieces of woods and I have been trying to get into them. I have to say that I am disappointed.

In particular, I have been along the Rumsford River; I have been over to the northern part of the State Forest, I have been northeast of Foolish Hill and, yesterday, went up and over the hill itself. There is almost nothing to show for these explorations, even though they covered a variety of topographies. At most I have seen a couple a stone "U"s here, a niche there. Each walk, separately, would have turned up multiple rock pile sites if this was Harvard or Boxborough. If it was Fitchburg, at least one of these walks would have turned up some mounds. Those towns are well north of Foxboro and in a different watershed. To the south of Foxboro, say in Wrentham, I am finding pavements as a matter of routine. But Foxboro seems noticeably devoid of rock pile sites. I am not saying there are none, just that I expected to find something by now.

I found one mound (I'll show you) and a few things suggesting astronomy but mostly...nothing. So why? Foxboro is a bit on the southern fringe of the Charles River watershed and a bit on the northern fringe of the rivers that drain into Rhode Island. Could it have been a neutral zone? Or a backwater? It could be my sampling bias. According to Curt Hoffman there are 14 sites reported for Foxboro - not necessarily rock pile sites, so perhaps he can tell us what kinds of sites they are. I find Foxboro to be somewhat of a dead zone.

It did find one mound in the low ground near the Rumsford River - a bit like a mound with a tail. I want to say that this is definitely not a pavement and nor is it a standard rectangular mound. It seems to me akin to the "lazy 9" and "pile with tail" that I have described elsewhere as a older form, found throughout the state.
Found this somewhere:

And I did find a couple things on the southwest side of Foolish Hill, on the side near Rt 95:

But as I was saying, these Foxboro finds are pretty slim pickings and there ought to be an explanation.

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Wall Site in Bartow Co., GA

Reader DG Merritt writes:
Some fall photos of a series of (likely) prehistoric walls near the headwaters of a creek in Pine Log Mtn WMA, Bartow Co., GA. Tommy Hudson led me to this site several years ago. It is well off the beaten path and mostly undisturbed. I have a lot of other pictures of this site, but since the leaves have fallen, the light put things in a different perspective. The main wall includes an interesting right-angle bend I don’t often see in the surviving walls around Georgia. The main orientation is N-S, with some separate, perpendicular segments. There are also some cairns associated with this site, on both sides of the creek; I have been trying to broaden my search around this location, since there seem to be some additional features — maybe buried by time — that are difficult to categorize.

Trail off of Stubtown Rd. Hopkinton

From reader Kerry G:


Sunday, December 09, 2018

Strolling in Woods Hole

Went for a walk in Webster Woods, planning on visiting a place I know, then swinging down through the Oceanographic Quissett Campus. There are so many nooks and crannies in those woods, when I came to some rock piles I was not sure if I was already at the site I knew. It turned out this was a new little cluster of items.

To start, there is a ridge, not far from and more or less parallel with the main road. A friend told me he used to walk to Falmouth along the ridge and that it was an old trail. Following that trail, just north of the fire station, came across something quite rare: a rock-on-rock made of quartz:
[sunlight would go through the quartz at right time, since the sun is at the horizon occasionally]
The only time I see this is on a boulder looking out over the scene. In this case I crossed the wall and continued along a faintly visible trail till I got to some rock piles.
You have to look closely to see them in the photo. They would be easy to miss on foot. You can see from the stone wall in the background that these are on the slope below the ridge. Here were a couple more:
 You can see the trail plainly in this picture. 
So I am thinking these are marker piles - along a slope, in a sort of row but without much individual character. Then I came to a 'mound' of a type which, in more northern parts of Mass., is often found next to marker pile grids. I have written about this association before. So here is a mound:
At first you say: "well that is not a rectangular mound with a hollow", then realize that this is pretty much the same as the recently named Wrentham Pavement: a southeastern MA expression of mound-ness. And from this, and the absence of the fresher 'cairns' one sees further north and over at the CT/RI corner, I conclude a shared culture throughout this area of MA - south of the Charles River watershed. However there is some reason to think this culture is found throughout the state but hidden by more recent and visible things. I think of these pavements as being older.

It is interesting to see this mound in the context of the other piles adjacent to it. It is next to what I think of as a collection of marker piles - re-enforcing that the association of mound with calendar. And the rock-on-rock made of quartz, overlooking the whole arrangement (we are within 50 yards of that rock-on-rock and it would be visible from here) is a nice detail. Such details were not available in Wrentham. This place is relatively undisturbed, sitting as it does, next to the trail to Woods Hole.

Across the little valley was another messy mound: 

So there are burial mounds down here on the Cape. You could argue there is a hollow in this second one but I would not call this or the previous one "rectangular".

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Monday, December 03, 2018

Greater Rhode Island Ruins

Some interesting images from:
Greater Rhode Island Ruins
From: "Avalonia Land Conservancy - TriTown Forest - North Stonington, Griswold, Preston - Random enclosures and cairns ... somewhat similar landscape to the Canonchet Preserve in Hopkinton."
Some "cairns," as they describe them (above) and a U-shaped Enclosure (below), which reminds me of a spot Curtis and I pondered about which direction something similar but not identical at Judges Woods faced, the "seat back" also bedrock...
I am assuming that this is a view of the row of stones up above the possible Prayer Seat:

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Holliston site with Norman Muller and Bruce McAleer

Norman writes:

You attended that field trip to Holliston that Bruce McAleer led in November or December 2005 .  A fascinating site, and one of the features that intrigued me was a fairly large erratic with three smaller stones aligned in a horizontal row in front of it  (0055 below) .  I was certainly struck by this, which is the reason for the photo.  Another view shows the same boulder with two other erratic in front of it (0056).  To me, the alignment of the three smaller rocks in front of the first boulder is significant, and I wonder if these three smaller rocks in alignment simply signifies the three larger boulders in a row.  I also wonder if the vulva shape on the boulder means anything, or if I'm reading too much into it.  The Native Americans were certainly aware of shadows and how they can change how one interprets certain features.

What do you think?

[PWAX writes:] I think that the three smaller cobbles are what is left of a little outline next to the bounder, that was used in connection with the larger boulder alignment. So....what is left of a prayer seat? The arrangement of smaller cobbles is suggestive but I think it may be that one of them was simply knocked out of line.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Ceremony at edge of deer hunters' camp

At the edge of a hunter's camp. First I saw something white and assumed it was a trash bag, but to be systematic I took a closer look and found a small quartz rock in a loose line of other rocks - with a rock pile down the way:

Other views:

Having just posted about an effigy, makes me want to see this as another example. No matter. 

There were a few other rock piles about, of a size, distribution, and placement on a flat slope, as to suggest "marker piles".

You can see a bit of path, innards to the left, the quartz arrangement beyond in the background.
So, when I see what look like a collection of marker piles, I look around the edges for rectangular mounds with hollows (burials) and this had me notice something I would not have noticed otherwise.
Lousy picture too! Just the suggestion of a level spot and an outline - a bit of soil/rock pushed out, away from an outcrop. Shaped a bit similarly to a "mound with hollow". 

I could be imagining things, though I saw a better example later:
That is as "far out" as speculation should be allowed. I don't know how you would find out if this was a burial.
This was in Wrentham State Forest, 1/4 mile NW of interchange 14 on Rt 495.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Bird Effigy Rock Pile?

A short walk with my son at the Pond Street Cons Land in Norfolk MA. We went there as a backup plan to the place I selected that didn't pan out. Too bad I did not know the topography or we might have taken a longer walk. Saw this:
 Can't resist a picture of Joe Waksman
 The bilateral symmetry is enough to consider this might be an effigy. "A bird?" he asks.
A few feet away:
 A nice brook, we decided. Looks a bit manipulated.