Thursday, September 07, 2006

Southeast facing rocky hillside

I had been hoping to go explore south of South Monoosnuc and had been hoping to climb that sucker. I drove in along Elm street from Leominster and could see I was getting up near to one of the prominent hills that you can see from Rt 2 going west before Mt. Wachusett. So it was nice to drive up to the foot of it, passing under the power lines and parking just west of where the brook crosses the road. There is a forest "fire road" entrance northward and I walked in along that.

Within a minute or two I saw a kind of wedged rock above and left of the trail a
nd, climbing up to look at it, I spotted a rock-on-rock, which led up and into an area of other rock-on-rocks and effigy-like piles.Whatever happened here is tumbled down and spread out. But the site reminded me of the one in Westford along (is it?) Rt 40 which I called a "typical brookside site". Well this was not exactly near a brook but the topography is very similar to the place in Westford. So I think this is yet another example of a particular type of site. Not a marker pile site and not a large mound site.

There were a number of faint alignments, some of which incorporated a little "niche" type of structure. I saw this a couple of times:
Later in the walk, at a slightly different part of this slope, closer to the power lines, there were several more substantial piles. These are effigy-like to me:


JimP said...

The more I see the sites you post, Peter, the more convinced I am of what they are.

Primary sources on New England tribes talk about an initiation ritual for young boys. The sources indicate that the boys were led into the forest where they had to survive on their own for a period of time.

The secret to the ritual is that, according to oral tradition, they weren't living by themselves in the woods. They were being instructed by elders in the spirituality of their particular path -- whether they were to become a great hunter, warrior, healer, keeper of the faith, or future leader.

I can find no evidence from historical records that indicates New England Indians conducted vision quest rituals until many tribes were forced westward. Even then, the popularity of vision quest rituals didn't rise to current levels until the Pan-Indian movement began in the late 1970's. These structures in the New England woods are much older than that.

So I do believe they are important structures of spirituality, and their wide distribution and frequency fits quite well with the theory that such rituals were repeated for possibly hundreds of thousands of adolescents over many centuries.

pwax said...

I agree that many sites involve pathways between and around piles. Which I interpret as you. There are other sites like burials.