Monday, April 30, 2007

One more rock pile from VA

Karen H. writes in:

Here are more photos. I have a theory that native peoples honored "faces" that would appear in stone through natural means. Some of these pictures include stones that could have weathered naturally, but may have been used in ceremony because of their unique characteristics.
037 - effigy head - appears to be fashioned after a skull, with intentional scoring on left face and "eyes" and "nose" added
055 - Several interesting rocks found in site
045 - a taller rock pile
044 - rock wall ends abruptly (corner top of piles field site)
031 - more of the rock wall
021 - another strange rock
020 - face in the rock
004 - rock splits boulder

Princess Red Wing - Indian Communications

by JimP
Princess Red Wing had a tremendous influence on my life and she was always a source of boundless inspiration. I credit her with not only giving me a proper education at a time when all textbooks stereotyped Indians, but she also shaped my senses of tolerance, respect, and reverence to the diversities of cultures in humankind. She was quite a woman. Her work lives on in me and countless other children that she touched in her long lifetime.

With that said, I was delighted (as I always am) to find yet another bit of her writing in the archives of academia. A quote from that article was on topic enough to post here. The article is titled Indian Communications and it can be found in College Composition and Communication, Vol. 23, No. 5. (Dec., 1972), pp. 350-356.

All over New England there were bounding rocks. With these the Indians sent messages, by a code, for miles. These were huge rocks, hollowed out underneath so they would send a sound when flat stones were moved on them. Today some people call them cup and saucer rocks.
Anytime you have a chance to read anything by Princess Red Wing don't miss out. I also recommend everyone head down to the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum in Exeter, RI where you are invited to sit and listen to their extensive collection of recordings by Princess Red Wing telling the stories that she had recounted so many times to thousands upon thousands of schoolchildren all over New England.

Link: Petroglyphs, Pictographs, and Megaliths of America

by JimP
The following is a link from the home page of Dr. Fred Legner, Professor Emeritus at the University of California Riverside. The page is titled Petroglyphs, Pictographs, and Megaliths of America & Related Old World Sites. Lots of links and photos.

[Click Here] to visit Dr. Legner's page.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Nez Perce Battlefield and Cairns in Montana

Bruce McAleer sent this:

Here's a link about an historic indian battlefield survey that talks alot about cairns.

Friday, April 27, 2007

And Still More from Bucks County

By Geophile

I got the pictures I took with my SLR back from the developer and there are a few worth adding. Above is a stone row we saw at that site. Nice one, I thought.

I posted a picture of this rock on the Portal, but this is a better picture and includes the rock next to it, which was equally interesting. The long rock pile/wall there was the length of the two of them together.

I had several more pictures of rock piles, but I'm sure you've seen enough (as if that could happen!). Anyway, here's the best of the rock pile pictures from there. Nice spot.

More on Buck's County from Geophile

Writing at the Megalithic Portal, Geophile goes into more detail about the site in Buck's County. [Click here]

Law provides few protections for Indian Mounds

From the Smoky Mountain News (via Archaeologica) [Click here]

For reference, I often read Archaeologica [Click here]

Thursday, April 26, 2007

NEARA Field Trip


MAY 20th, 2007 at 11:00

The Massachusetts chapter of NEARA will hold a field trip to Borderland State Park on Sunday, May 20. Our last visit to Borderland, in 2001, was led by Ellie Ricker. We all miss her.

The park spans the borders of Sharon and Easton, MA. For centuries this land marked the territorial boundary between the Wampanoug and Massachusetts tribes. It was being used by both tribes for hunting and fishing in 1690, when the first colonists moved to the area. On our tour we will see a stone prayer seat, a chamber, and many other interesting stone constructions, and geological features. We will record their GPS locations for our site reports. The park geologist, Bill Hocking, and the Visitor Services Supervisor, Ellenor Yahrmarkt, will join us. She will show us the Ames Mansion after our NEARA tour.

Call or email any questions, or to sign up.

Please RSVP:, or call 508-885-0993.[MSOffice1]

SAVE this date: On Sunday afternoon, JUNE 24, George Krusen will show us a sacred site and the Boxborough Esker.

Design of rock pile sites is incompatible with stone removal

A letter to the editor of the Providence Journal by a Pete Carlson includes:
"Cairns are quite common in Rhode Island, and the ones in Parker Woodland (that appear similar to the ones shown in the article) have been examined quite thoroughly with no conclusive explanation as to their purpose. We even have some on our property in Foster.

My theory is they are just piles of rocks. Over the last 300 years, local settlers, especially farmers, had to clear millions of tons of rocks from the land to make it suitable for tillage and pasture. Hidden in our re-grown forests are thousands of miles of stone walls and massive mounds of stones cleared from fields. Land not suited for crops was used as pasture and loose surface rocks were probably removed to expose more soil to grow more forage. What to do with the rocks? The simplest thing would be to just pile them up, ideally on a
big rock that would have been difficult to move. Those settlers who were careful would have made nice neat piles."

I see this as a sad lack of imagination and information. Let me quote from my comment to a previous post: "Here is someone who is a sloppy observer with no imagination. To be fair, the problem is perhaps that Mr. Carlson has not seen enough sites. Here are facts which he does not comprise. Sometimes rock piles are:
- well made
- from sorted rocks
- within larger patterns of piles
- at prominent locations on hills and by water.

Take your pick, any of that implies a design effort inconsistent with simply getting rid of rocks.

Perched Boulder, etc - Garfield Woods, Berlin MA - Sudbury Vally Trustees Land

The Sudbury Vally Trustees Land or "SVT" own a number of properties in my county and adjacent counties. This one is in Berlin Mass. [Click here for the SVT website] As far as I could tell the land has been pretty harshly used but still there were traces of the ceremonial: split-wedged rocks here and there, perched boulders, maybe a total of three legit rock piles. Here is a picture of my son Joe. Behind him is a rock on boulder that takes the cake for highest-off-the-ground.I don't quite trust this as a ceremonial feature. It is next to a trail. However, this little structure at the saddle between two of the sub-hills, seems legit. I went looking for something in the saddle and I found it.
Here is one of the few piles that looked interesting:
Let's take one more look at that perched boulder:So maybe I should show this one too:

In Google Image searching

How about this one from the Rolling Hills estate [Click here] I think this is VA.

Or this from Metsahallitus - shows what an old Swedish rock pile looks like - say it looks like some of ours! [Click here]

Nobody does it like the British [Click here]

Chanango County Land trust [Click here]

Mid-Atlantic Geomancy [Click here] This webpage is worth exploring. Perhaps I should perma-link to it?

In the news

From the Tonawanda News [Click here for the article]

"By Jake PalmateerThe Daily Star (Oneonta, N.Y.)
MARGARETVILLE, N.Y. — Doug Brady Sr. and Jr. were among two dozen local residents who took up a perch on a hillside rock pile Wednesday along the side of county Route 38.Roughly 400 yards away, across a valley, a two-story yellow house was surrounded by state police vehicles...."

Sounds like a pretty large rock pile. Anyone live nearby with a camera?

From the New Haven Register [Click here for the article]

"GUILFORD — An upscale shopping center slated for the Rock Pile property near Interstate 95 was voted down Wednesday night in a marathon meeting of the Inland Wetlands Commission.
Commissioners voted 4-3 to reject a motion that would have granted Diversified Development Realty permission to build near wetlands and watercourses, as well as install a sewage treatment and discharge system...."

Here the comment is: sounds like no-one even noticed there were rock piles involved. I am just guessing from the name of the property.


From the Providence Journal - but behind their firewall, I was only able to read a snippet online:

"The simplest thing would be to just pile them up, ideally on a big rock that would have been difficult to move. Those settlers who were careful would have ..."

Here the comment is that it sounds like someone is theorizing about what would be "ideal". An authority? Wish I could read the article.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Strolling on Patch Hill in Boxborough, MA

Saturday my son's soccer game was at the playing fields in Boxborough on Liberty Square Rd behind which is the Patch Hill Conservation Land. I may have written about Patch Hill before. It is a hill with numerous rock piles, some ceremonial and some bordering on "agrarian". The place is a puzzle. But aside from that, Saturday I walked off into the woods during the game and up the hill, and thought I would go over to the northern facing shoulder and look around for any traces of a "marker pile" site. Sure enough there were three or four piles, totally damaged but still recognizable as piles:Also up there was this interesting shaped rock with quartz. Hard to imagine this going un-noticed by whoever was moving rocks around up on this hilltop.On my way back down to the playing fields, I stopped to photo a favorite rock pile, built into a stone wall:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Archaeology of Natural Places

By Geophile

Someone on another stone site recommended I look up the book, The Archaeology of Natural Places by Richard Bradley. I hope eventually to own and read it, but in the meantime I browsed what I could on Amazon and found this bit about natural rock formations in Finland to which offerings were made. It mentions rocks shaped like humans, animals, or birds, as well as rocks of an unusual size or color, or rocks "split open during cold weather to provide fissures or natural portals leading into the surface of the rock." It even says that in some parts of Scandinavia low walls were built around some of these. I liked the quote, "[The Lapps] let the gods choose their own shape."

All this sounded very familiar, and the topic of the book, the relationship of culture with natural rather than built features, relates closely to sites I've been to. Frequently although not always, it appears that no boulders have been altered at these sites. They're more likely to be singled out by connection with walls in a way similar to what they mention here. I don't think it is necessary for the cultures to be connected in any way in order for studies like this to be relevant to what we're looking at. This book appears to be one that belongs in the rock piles enthusiast's library. And, hey, if you find a two-fer, send me one.

Here's a review, written for canoers, but it gives an idea of what the book involves.

Westwood Felsite?

Some time ago the local authority on arrowheads, Shirley Blanke, told me that one source for the black rhyolite ("felsite") in Concord arrowheads was Westwood. The Rt 128 Median in Deadham is adjacent to Westwood and I saw rocks like this in what seemed to be highway construction debris:Could this be the Westwood felsite?

Chamber: Rt 128 Median Deadham MA

Some rock piles from Mendon MA

Reader Keith writes in about a site in Mendon:
"The rock pile is next to a spring. There are many more in the vicinity of about an acre or two. ...
Question. some rocks are very very large, how the heck did they lift them up to piles? It obviously took a lot of effort and must be very important to use so much energy."

Some other pictures included these two similar rock piles:
Also a rock on rock:and another pile:
It looks like an interesting site.

Question about Lincoln RI

Does anyone know about a rock pile site there? Any info would be welcome.

See what I mean?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Next Nipsachuk article

Another Nipsachuk article from the Providence Journal [Click here]. Thanks to Jim P. for the link. This article seems slightly better balanced than previous ones.

Route 95 Median Stone Chamber - Deadham,MA

Bruce McAleer heard about a stone chamber in the median strip of Rt. 95 (also called Rt 128) from Rick Lynch and Fred Martin. I am not clear how either Rick or Fred knew about it but Bruce, as I, scans the woods on either sides of the road as he drives along and had been looking for this chamber for some time when he finally spotted it, heading north in Deadham, after the Rt 1A overpass. You have to be looking to the left at just the right spot at just the right moment; if you blink you'll miss it. Anyway, once he located it he was anxious to go see it up close and invited me along. It turns out that the median of 128 widens to several hundred yards and it part of Deadham Town Forest, and it is accessible from the 1A overpass.

When we got there, the chamber was a bit of a dis-appointment:
Nothing very pre-historic about that. The top is concrete, poured into a mold that looks to have been built in place. The sides are dry stone construction with no mortar.

Bruce took these pictures. Here is a view back out the entrance.
According to him, this points pretty close to the winter solstice sunrise. There is no thought that this might be deliberate and ceremonial; so this seemsto be a cute coincidence.

The back of the chamber is made from a slope of dirt, with a pipe sticking out and wires sticking out of the pipe.We do not know what this little room was for, nor why it was built so much like a linteled stone chambed. It might be an interesting research project.

In the woods near this there were a number of disturbances. There were a few very scruffy rock piles, not worth illustrating, a well, and also a rectangular hole - probably of an old foundation. Here is the hole:And here is the well. It was located at the foot of a ridge of sand and the water was beautiful and clear:

Indian Burial Grounds being associated with rock piles.

Calling rock piles "burial mounds" serves to teach people a lesson. I am not at all convinced this is a good lesson or a right lesson. People who find this blog using Google have started showing up because they have heard something about what is happening in RI. At least that is how I interpet the above screen shot from the sitemeter log of a recent visit. Much as I like the new traffic (and it is noticeable) I think, as a community, we should be aware.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bucks County, Pennsylvania

by Geophile
A very beautiful Earth Day to spend in the flowering woodlands of eastern PA. This spot was recommended to me some time ago by Fred, and my husband Eric and I finally made the trip. Wow! What a site. Above is an eye-catching split boulder with a low wall running along to the left.
This site had two large cairn fields, near enough to perhaps be just one with a gap. The cairns we saw were not well-formed, looking either collapsed or as if they'd never been more than piles. There must have been close to 40 of them, though. Maybe more, since I didn't go far in any direction. There were walls, too, both straight and serpentine, but the pictures of those weren't great. The leaf litter was thick.

The leaning flat boulder above caught my attention. You can't see them in the shadow, but two small stones were wedged all the way back under it. But what was more interesting . . .

. . . to me, at least, were these two edgewise stones stuck in the ground parallel to one another, off to the side of it.

The boulders here often had flat or concave tops. We saw a few? many? with groupings of rocks on top or in the hollow, as with the one above.

Another propped boulder, and this time you can see the stone wedged beneath it.

It was a lowland area near a fairly small creek. We saw a number of brooks flowing into it and springs with water flowing from the ground. As usual, some of the stonework, at least, was directly connected to the springs. The serpentine wall went up a gradual slope from a spring, or it could have been down to the stream. The leaves were thick on the ground and I wasn't sure the rock I found was the triangular head, or just a part of the body with the wall ending under the leaves further on.

It would be good to come back at other times of year, and with more camera cards. I wasn't expecting so much, and had to limit pictures to make sure I had room. I had my SLR along and took some with that, too, but it didn't have many left.

We saw many hermit thrushes, at least six kinds of native wildflowers including the bloodroot whose roots were often used for red pigment for ritual objects. Following one of the narrow brooks a little way, I came across two small snakes sunning themselves on a flat rock. They slid into the water and swam under rocks, but not before I caught them on film. All in all, just the sort of place I would choose for a ritual site, if we were going on environmental health and aesthetics. Nice spot, and if anyone truly interested is in the area, I'll show it to you.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Rock piles from Virginia

Reader Karen Henderson writes in with some pictures of a site behind her house in VA.
Of particular interest is a pile with a central piece of rock made of blue quartz - an unusual color for quartz.Also of note are these peculiar shaped rocks in the piles:
Here is a closer view of that rock on top, but note also the one to the lower right. They seem unlikely to be natural. Here is another pile from there:Karen writes about the site:
Have several circular rock mounds (approx.4-7' high, 12-15' wide) on westward facing slope in VA foothills of Blue Ridge Mountains, approx. 15-20 in all. Some are equidistantly spaced up and down hill from each other, several are in corner of old stone wall, which ends abruptly in one direction. Each is approx. same size, with same size large boulder-like stones. Appears they are not result of agricultural clearing, as there are no small stones thrown onto piles. Each pile is relatively equidistant from the next. Also, these piles are confined to the west slope - none on other slopes around it.
Have found many Native American artifacts on my land in years prior, including spearheads (dated to circa 10,000 years) flakes, pottery shards, and post molds. Also some primitive farming implements, pitted from turning soil, and other artifacts.

I have more odd shapes [of rocks on rock piles] that do not seem to be naturally created, and will forward a couple more. It is my understanding that the blue quartz is only found in one other location in the world, Western Africa - probably a vein that was separated when the continents split. The site contains many piles over several acres, running in a line parallel along the ridge from SW to NE, with visibly older and more destroyed piles upridge (SW) of the "younger" piles (pix I sent). The slope itself faces WNW.