Monday, June 12, 2006

Poor Farm Rd, Harvard MA

by pwax
Harvard, MA is a town west of Boston. If you look at the topo map of Harvard, where Poor Farm Rd crosses Rt 2 you'll see lots of suggestive looking places where hills meet water. I climbed one hill from the north and was thinking how my "eastern" strategy is to look for where hills meet water but that that here in Harvard it might make more sense to follow a "western" strategy involving climbing the hill and checking the southwestern side of the hilltop. Coming in from the north, I turned right at the top of the hill and pushed towards the west through a veil of white pine saplings, and came to an area with larger boulders on the surface and saw a first rock pile:
After that I saw about twenty other piles. Most were on the ground under the larger pine trees but the site also had simple piles on support rocks like the first one.
The more common type of piles were trangular ground piles that looked thoroughly broken down retaining only a faint sense of the shape. There was a suggestion of a white rock (made of feldspar in this case, not quartz) at the center of more than one. One pile almost looked like it had a bit of vertical facing. This makes for four of the occasional characteristics of marker piles:
  • teardrop shaped
  • 'blazed' with white rock
  • vertical facing?
  • on a slope
I am torn as to whether these piles might be burials but, in the end, figure them for marker piles.

After taking some pictures, I circled south, counter-clockwise around the summit and saw a few more piles
and a line of rock-on-rock inviting me to explore further down in on the eastern side.
In the end, I did go down that way and found another cluster of rock piles where the hill ended at a brook. So both the "eastern" and "western" strategies would have worked.

This is all at the heart of the Shaker area of Harvard. I drove around a bit more over the weekend and there are rock piles visible from the car at about five places along Shaker Road. Mavor and Dix speculated that there was a connection between Shakers and Indian ceremonialism. This is supported by a high concentration of rock piles in the area.


pwax said...

When I get the rest of this/these site(s) documented I want to come back and look at how the various clusters here are connected by loose lines of rock-on-rocks. I also want to compare this situation with the eastern and western sides of the Hill of 500 Cairns and the way those clusters are connected in a similar way.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever speak to Native American Elders on the subject? In my own experience, there is still knowledge of the "rock piles" and "talking rocks" of S E New England