Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cairns from Woodstock, NY

Norman Muller writes in:

I was shown a lithic site on private property in Woodstock, NY, this weekend, and I am enclosing half a dozen photos of some of the more interesting features there. The features consist of cairns and walls scattered over several terraces and slopes on the east side of a mountain. There are five very large cairns or mounds, which measure on average 80-100' long, about 4-5' high and 30-40' wide. The east facing side of these cairns is very well constructed, with careful piling of the flat sandstone (Images 05 and 07).
In each of these cairns are one or more cobbles of quartzite. The image provide has a water worn, light colored quartzite cobble in the lower or bottom part of the cairn. These cairns reminded me of a large cairn in Parker Woodland (Image 001), which also had the east facing side well constructed; the west side was rather nondescript, and looked like a field clearing pile, except there was no field nearby to account for all the stone.

A great majority of the cairns (all on boulders) had large cobbles of quartzite conspicuously placed in them (Image 0010). The quartzite cobbles were all water worn, which suggests they may have come from a stream bed nearby. The bottom terrace had a vertical escarpment on the uphill side, which was pockmarked with a number of large holes, one of which had a wall of stones at the entrance (image 0016).
It was some 10'+ deep, certainly big enough to shelter one or two people, and the wall could have been constructed to keep water, debris and even small animals from collecting inside. I heard that there is a larger rock shelter in the vicinity with a grid of walls under the dripline, which reminds me of what I read about a rock shelter in N. Madison, CT, although apparently the walls there are no longer.

Image 0022 shows a very handsome cairn overlooking a field below.

On the upper terrace, perhaps 300+ feet above the lower one, was a serpent effigy, consisting of a curved stone row about 4 feet high ending at a large boulder, which probably fell from a ledge above and toppled down to the terrace.
The boulder does not look like a snake head, being too blocky, but what else could the curved stone row and the large boulder signify? I immediately thought of a snake or serpent when I first saw it. Several pieces of quartzite were found along the length of the stone row, and also one fairly large piece of black chert.


pwax said...

Congratulations on some wonderful pictures. Interesting site also.

JimP said...

That sure is a beauty of a site -- and it is extremely like Parker Woodland.

Geophile said...

I'll be in Woodstock in a month, and hope to get into woods to look around. The place we stay outside of town has some low walls and a pile or two. That area seems to have many sites, but I've never seen one as nice as yours!

pwax said...

In the third picture down there's a flat standing stone in the middle of the sidewall, or just in front of the pile. Is this a recurring pattern? It seems like something meaningful.