Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Mysterious Stone Structures of the Eastern Forest

"Thousands of mysterious stone cairns are scattered throughout the Eastern United States. The stone monuments have been documented since the 1600s both by Native Americans and European settlers, but no one has any idea who built them." Words, music, and photography by Sequoyah Kennedy


Crude stone tools?

From reader Kevin, in Walpole MA. Please give opinions in the comments:

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Washed Up Artifacts (Westbrook & Madison CT)

"Evan Honeyman of Farmington found a verified Native American arrowhead or spear point on Quotonset Beach in Westbrook recently...experts placed the artifact at between 2,000 and 3,000 years old, and possibly composed of basalt, rhyolite or mudstone..."


Also: Madison man finds ancient 'mysterious' stone at Hammonasset:

(State Archaeologist Sarah) Sportman  confirmed, via email, that this was indeed “a very cool find.”
“Several ground stone or pecked stone spheres have been found in Connecticut, but they are a mysterious artifact type that is found all over the world and from different time periods,” she wrote..."  

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Encountering familiar local Middlesex County names West of Chicago

Following the idea that rivers west of Chicago flowing into the Mississippi were busy travel corridors, I was looking for the obvious places to hike and explore for rock piles. Interestingly I immediately came across some old friends:

Both places look worth visiting. Sure looks like our guys went out there too, so I would expect rock piles there.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Mother Earth

(Peterborough Ontario)

Norman Muller writes:
Being confined mostly inside for the past two months has given my mind freedom to roam, and recently I have been looking at photos I have taken plus those I have not, and have noticed a similarity among them: mainly that splits, cracks, and V- or U-shaped formations have female connotations, since the Earth, after all, gives birth to all kinds of life forms.  

In the Anza Borrego Desert in California, one of the Indian tribes took a formation with a deep crack and carved the stone around it to resemble a female vagina (1st image).  The same occurred at the Empie site in Arizona, where cracks were fashioned to resemble female labia (2nd image).  At a site in Rochester, Vermont, we have a split boulder with a phallus-shaped rock inserted in the crack (3rd image).  Further north, in Peterborough, Ontario, we have the area around a crack in the limestone bedrock pecked to resemble a woman menstruating (4th image: the color of the stone around the vagina is red).  

In the article attached below about the "Terraced Boulder Site" in Pennsylvania, I illustrate some natural "V" and "U" shaped formations in outcrops filled with stones, again emphasizing the female nature of the form.  Was filling the shape with stones to complete the female image a practice reserved for women of the Indian tribes to make them more fertile?  It is impossible to tell.  But there is little doubt in my mind that the enhancement of these shapes was not purient to the Indians who created them, but simply a ritual to enhance Mother Earth.

Anza Borrega:

Empie Petroglyph Site, AZ:
Rochester VT, Site R7-6:

OSL Dating of the Oley Hills Site - Norman Muller

In the current issue of North American Archaeologist (Vol 41(1), 33-50, 2020), is the article “Optically stimulated luminescence dating of a probable Native American cairn and wall site in Eastern Pennsylvania.”  The article was coauthored by James Feathers, director of the Luminescence Dating Laboratory at the University of Washington, and by Norman Muller, retired art conservator at the Princeton University Art Museum.  The site in question is the Oley Hills site in eastern Pennsylvania, which Muller has been studying since 1997.  In 2018, two small cobbles of gneiss were removed in complete darkness from the Terrace, the largest built feature at the site, and sent to Feathers for analysis.  In 2020 he determined that the two cobbles were placed around 2570 ± 330 B.P., which is within the Adena period.  This is the first time that direct dating of stone by OSL has been applied to any of the numerous cairn and wall sites in the northeastern U.S.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Anyone still up in the Acton area exploring new woods?

If there is, I wonder if you could take a look at the woods west of Flushing Hill in Westford.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

My little argument with NEARA and the goal of site protection

It has been the policy of my writing and publishing to expose sites to the public under the general rule that knowledge will protect sites better than secrecy. Whether or not to publish site locations is a matter that used to be discussed regularly at NEARA meetings I attended - conferences and board of directors' meetings. But the NEARA default was that sites should be kept secret. Anyone wanting to get access to the site locations might be able to, by attending field trips or by visiting the organization's library. But publications by NEARA, like archeological publications often do, tried to avoid discussing site locations. So, although it was discussed over and over, the default policy was to keep site locations a secret. Deferring the discussion meant continuing the default.

My disagreement with NEARA runs deeper and relates to whether it is alright to discuss Native American burial mounds. I observe that many sites have what appear to be burial mounds. Having that in mind helps one get a sense of what is going on with different features of the site. But aside from the potential to get some understanding of a place, burial sites already have very strong legal protection. So determining that a site is likely to be a burial site is the best way to get a site protected.

It cannot be good to pretend these sites are something else, so I cannot agree with NEARA about keeping locations secret and censoring discussion of burials.

Someday it would be interesting to study some of NEARA's most famous failures. The site at Pratt Hill was bulldozed by a landowner angry about all the trespassing by NEARA members. The site at Burnt Hill was monopolized by a NEARA "director" and taken away from the community. The site never received any legitimate "research" and may have gotten damaged over the years. Who knows?

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Quartz Levanna point with broken tip

Reader Joshua writes:

I found this on the side of the sidewalk on the grass and dirt near a river with dozens of quartz flakes buried next to it.  It was found in South Kingstown, Rhode Island a few days ago while walking near the center of town.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Jade at the landfill?

[Not rock pile related] Came across this while shoveling topsoil from a big pile at the Falmouth landfill into the back of my car. It pays to be interested in what can be found in dirt:
Is it jade? I think it is glass. These sorts of ring appear on the tassel of Chinese lanterns, and maybe in some Korean headgear.

Anyway, no arrowhead hunting and no rock pile hunting - just gardening and the occasional unexpected discovery in the dirt.

(After a bit of searching) I guess they are called "Disc Pendants":

Update: Looking carefully, there appears to be a capital 'O' etched inside the material.
Update: I have a piece of real jade (an ashtray) and it is about the same hardness.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Thursday, April 09, 2020

The Road to Plymouth/Patuxet (Wôpanâak/Wampanoag Territory)

      “During her journey, Weetamoo walked well-worn paths through forests which her community had long managed with fire. As Roger Williams noted, Native men performed controlled burns of the “underwoods” in the fall, which, combined with selective cutting for firewood, fostered an abundant open forest, which encouraged the growth of tall nut trees. The spacious canopy allowed sunlight to filter through the leaves, encouraging growth of berries and other edible plants. The nuts, grasses, berries, and saplings that flourished in this forest were inviting to game, while the clearing of undergrowth facilitated travel and visibility for hunting as well as gathering..."

Sign the Mashpee Wampanoag Petition

[During the Pandemic when no one was looking, the government tries to revoke the Mashpee Wampanoag tribal stutus.]

Thank you to 235,000 of you who signed our petition.

We continue to support the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and as you can see members of Congress are listening and starting to take some action.

There are legal proceedings in the works, and while we await that frustrating yet important process we can still continue to share the petition, call members of Congress, and stay up to date on what's happening.

Share the petition: MoveOn.org/StandWithMashpee

And stay connected with the Tribe on Facebook and the website.

Thank you,


Wopanaak Language Reclamation Project started this petition on MoveOn. If there's an issue close to your heart that you'd like to campaign on, you can start your campaign here.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Mysteries of the Kibby cellar hole in Estabrook Woods, Concord/Carlisle

Here is a place with various funny things going on. A site with lots of rock piles around a colonial (actually Revolutionary war period) foundation. Kibby was said to have been a large man who could only bring one (also large) daughter of three to church each week, having a single pony. So the other sisters had to wait their turn to go church every three weeks. When Carlisle was to be divided off and away from Concord as a separate town, Kibby who lived on the border, inside of what is now Carlisle, insisted that he fought in the Revolution to protect Concord and, so, did not want to become a Carlisle resident. So they let his property remain in Concord - a bite taken out of the southern border of Carlisle. At least for a while.
So I wandered around this place with my wife, looking at the piles, the indications of colonial life, and talking about the curiosities of the place. Mainly there are mounds all over, as well as smaller piles. And I am wondering how to argue that Kibby must have been a christianized Indian. I note that the site is at the very highest point of a drainage that leads south from here. A few steps away the water is flowing north.

And I look around thinking: could that be farming related? How would I know this was Indian? How would I know it is ceremonial? I don't think there is any very good answer here. I note the classic "mound with hollow" a few yards north of the site, across the wall and down hill, that Walter Brain passed while taking me to see something he found interesting:
Surely that is a classic burial. 

Anyway we had a pleasant walk, dodging other hikers due to coronavirus. As we we left I see a fine split wedged rock, a few feet from the cellar hole.
Farming related? Yeah right.

I think the evidence suggests Kibby was a christianized Indian, living in an ancestral home, at the top of an important drainage - a place that always belonged to his family. Future scholars can try to refute this by looking at land deeds. Do they show Kibby acquiring the land?

Manitou's "Boulder Ridge" in Falmouth

On page 62 of my (2nd) edition of Manitou, Mavor and Dix describe a site in Falmouth they call "Boulder Ridge". I don't remember if I found this place or used Mavor's maps - which he gave me copies of. Anyway, the survey they did shows a site with lots of details and bears little resemblance to the pictures I took there the other day. My impression is that this is a marker pile site and so I looked for a larger lower "mound" that might be associated to this but found nothing. Just a few very decrepit piles lost in the blueberry bushes an an even slope:

 This one was at the edge of the site, next to a main trail - a clear sign to anyone walking bye.
What Mavor and Dix have to say about this place is far more interesting than any observations I can make. As I look at page 62 I am reminded how careful those authors were.

Nantucket Arrowheads

Reader Nathaniel writes:
I started my arrowheading obsession about 3 years ago when I was living on Nantucket. It took me 2 years to find a complete point but since this has become an intense passion.  Other than family and lawyering its all I think about.

Stone turtle

Reader Donald writes:
One of my favorite rocks are the ones shaped like a turtle as we know how important the turtle was to the Native Americans in our area. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Equinox is Cancelled

I want to express some thoughts about the corona virus pandemic. Perhaps readers would care to add something in the comments? On the other hand, if you would rather think about other things, I'll post some rock piles later.

I am lucky to be 67, getting social security, and owning my own house on Cape Cod. I am retired and already living in a bit of isolation, so staying at home is already what I am doing. On the other hand, worrying constantly if my nose drips, or I cough, or my lips get a bit dry... these make me expect to die - because my lungs are not in good shape. My wife was still working in Cambridge until last Tuesday, when I convinced her to stop going to work. But for the next two weeks, she is self-quarantined up in Concord. After 14 days, we are hoping she can come stay with me. So being alone is "lucky" but a bit unpleasant. We are all in a daze.

I have been taking some precautions. I figured to stock up on food sooner than later, because each time I go to the supermarket it becomes more likely I'll encounter virus particles. That means the shopping cart, the food on the shelves, the payment receipt - all are ways to get infected. So I carry an alcohol soaked sponge in a plastic bag, and wipe everything I touch, as well as my hands. But I am not allowed to touch my face until I get home and wash. Hard to remember!

Also I have been keeping up-wind and more than 6 feet from other people. I do not want to inhale air that someone else just exhaled. But I am desperate to have some human contact. So along with phoning family and friends constantly during the day, I also am taking walks and chatting with people on the street - keeping my distance. My son George says it is not hard to be 95% safe but getting to 99.99% would be nearly impossible. So I am taking precautions but not every possible one.

At the moment people are being friendly and supportive: a large puddle blocking my lane of the road and the oncoming driver blinks his headlights to tell me: go ahead and use his lane. Or waving at strangers as you drive bye. But the other day a guy was joking about being holed up in his house with a gun. I guess that kind of "Mad Max" future is a possibility. It may depend on shortages, if they occur - when people have to start breaking into other houses in order to eat. I suppose that is simply melodramatic. I hope so!

There are a couple of bright spots. One is that with the slow contemplative time passage, I end up doing some chores that seemed to always get postponed. Also thinking harder about some things. Recall: Isaac Newton's theory of gravity developed when he was sent to the country to avoid the plagues of the time. If I was younger I might be spending this time thinking about some interesting technical problem but, old as I am, I am reduced to trying to improve my drawing skills. I have been going out every afternoon to draw pictures of boats, water, and trees.

And this is bringing me closer to my far-flung children. We talk every day on the phone - something we didn't do before. It is a unique chance to get to know them as adults in a way that I would not have otherwise. We are all pretty healthy and will probably survive.

People around here are all taking precautions. The gas station attendant is wearing gloves and asks if I want to sign the slip using my own pen. In a lot of places they are being stupid. I hear Manhattanites are heading for the Hamptons and resuming a summer pattern of partying and restaurants. I heard they are licking a communal wall in Iran. I am sure you all know about the spring break partying of college youths down in Florida. We used to call that a "tax on the stupid". But stupid or not we are all likely to get sick eventually. For me, the goal is to postpone being sick until as late as possible - when the system has adjusted and knows how to handle it. In the meanwhile,  let's try to be comfortable and not too lonely. I am re-watching "Lord of the Rings" and trying to eat more vegetables.

In general, forest fires are good for the forest. Just no so good for the individual old trees. Good luck and best wishes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Ancient secret of lightning strikes at stone circles revealed

Not rock pile related:


I think this is relevant to ceremonial stone structures in the US is because places with high amounts of lightening do occur. and get noticed. It has been suggested [by Jic Davis] that some rock pile sites may be placed where there is a lot of lightening and, to confirm it, we did find effigies at that place, which might have been thunder-birds. Who knows? Pictures are no longer available.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Protruding Head Variation (Madison CT)

A Hilltop Row of Stones above a salt marsh, a possible Serpent or Snake Effigy:
The inset shows the view above, highlighted in white, where two rows of stones intersect in an aerial photo from 1934:

    Another stacking method that distinguishes Indigenous Stonework from "imported methods of stone fence building" is one I once described to my mom as "snakes going that way and turtles and other stuff going this way." 


Stone Mounds on Facebook


Greenberry Wilson Mounds - Tennessee

YouTube - Fun starts around 12 minutes in, when it becomes clear he is talking about stone mounds:

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Pits and split wedged rocks from Taunton

I went back to Taunton, to the east end of Rocky Woods Rd (actually Westville), and had a less than spectacular walk. There were a lot of split-wedged rocks and I kept noticing pits in the ground which, had they been lined with rock, might have been called "mounds" (sounds contradictory).
 Pits are not easy to photo, but shadows help show what is there:

A fanciful thought: near a burial you sure don't want spirits from the nearby rocks out and about. 

Horseshoe in a rock pile

Reader Colin sent these pictures from northern Westford/Tyngesborough showing a rock pile with a broken horseshoe:

This is much like the example of a rock pile with a broken plow blade (see here). Taking the USET description of rock piles as "Prayers in Stone", let us pause and consider if a prayer might have been involved with leaving these broken farm artifacts inside a rock pile.