Saturday, February 11, 2006

Marker Piles

I am going to be making many references to Marker Piles, so here is a quick definition. Piles that are:
  • built up, with a well formed, nearly vertical, face on one side
  • tapering off in a looser structure to the other side
  • outline like a teardrop (from above)
  • occasional single white rock
  • occasional burnt rocks near center
  • occasional prominent pointed rock sticking out above, or lying across the top, or leaning against the pile
  • appear evenly spaced in lines, occasional appearance of "grid"
  • enclosed by stone walls with some relation between the direction of the walls and the directions of the grid lines.
  • can occur on slope
  • break the horizon
  • mixture of ground piles and suppported piles (i.e. the support is not relevant to the classification at these sites)
Marker piles are often degenerate and are not stacked. They may have an elongated pointer but it is not necessarily vertical. Some may be stacked up higher than others. I have come to believe that marker piles are at places where there are lines of sight created by the piles and rocks leading up hill to an elevated horizon. That is probably the real definition. It is not clear what the role is of the pointer rocks. They suggest greater accuracy in a line of sight. There are a few other standard or typical features at a marker pile site. One is the occasional presence of lines leading up or down to a ledge with a piece of quartz. Aperture piles seem to have a similar purpose and may be found at the same sites or at similar sites.
As far as I can tell marker piles and their variants are the most common kind of rock piles, at least out "west" here in Boxborough, Bolton, Harvard, and Stow and they occur on nearly every hill.

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