Thursday, June 28, 2007

More nice piles

Just walking through the woods looking for rock piles. You see one like this and think: OK here's the good stuff.

More divided rocks with rockpiles

Looking at these pictures when I got home, pictures which I took consecutively, I see a similarity between them - each shows a rock next to another with a rock pile.
These also are from the west side of Millstone Hill in Westford.

More about West Virginia Rock Piles

Norman Muller writes in:
I found that book recommended by Hunter Lesser in our library (Terry Lowry, September Blood: The Battle of Carnifex Ferry, Charleston 1985), and made copies of the cairn photos, taken by Gary Bays, in the book. The two b&w photos are attached. The caption under the photos says: "MYSTERIOUS ROCK FORMATIONS -- over forty of these rock formations line the hill on the north side of the Carnifex Ferry site. Their origin is unknown, but it is spectulated they are either of the Indian, Civil War, or logging period. Civil War artifacts havae been located around them." (p. 114) Carnifex Ferry was a Civil War battlefield site in 1861. The site lies along the Gauley River southeast of Charleston, WVA.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Two views of a split rock

More from Millstone Hill, Westford:

Millstone Hill Westford

This is the west slope, below the main group of telescope dishes. Some rock piles and some short stretches of wall heading downhill to the west or nearly that.
A site too disturbed to learn anything from quickly.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Problems with Internet

Having trouble at home, am posting this from work. Hope all recovers so I can at least tell you about a small site I found this weekend.

Monday, June 25, 2007

More rock piles from reader Joshua E

These are from West Virginia.

Joshua writes:
they are up on a mountain in a place with only a gas station and they are a good distance from anything"
And about this one:
"is a long ridge probably 3 ft high 150 ft long and 15 ft wide. one pic is of a mound at a distance i think it may be a burial mound likes the ones found in hampshire county wv years ago."

" there are 30 rock piles i know of at least in the area which i believe are graves and some are good distance into the woods which means for sure it wasn't a farmer clearing a field. also that one ridge 150 ft long and 15 ft wide and 3 ft high is entirely artificial deep into the woods"
" the large cairn lies north and south. i found a smaller ridge of rocks nearby that seems to lie on a solstice line. my compass was messin up a little but i think thats right. the ridge seems to
look like a straightened out snake. i found evidence on the peak of the mountain of chippin off of a stone wall to obviously make points so there is some proof of indians in the area other than the cairns at least."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A reader writes in

Reader Joshua E. sent in some pics. I'll post more later:
I am not sure what part of the US this is from but it is like piles we have here on the east coast.

World Rockpiles--Scotland

By Geophile

From another continent, but it's a rock pile and its the weekend, so . . . A rock pile, in this case really called a cairn, at the top of Bennachie, a hill/ridge in Aberdeenshire Scotland. Jonas, my son and lieutentant of site discovery is there for much of the summer helping out at Archaeolink, an archaeology-education park. He climbed the hill yesterday and sent these among many pictures.

Probably recently done, but he had to send it--a split-wedge and a rock-on-rock.

Glaciers definitely came here, but things like this are always nice to look at. The rock pile in the first picture is at the top of the hill in the background of this one. That hill on the Bennachie ridge is called Mither Tap, a reference to its mammary shape when seen from the valley.

I assure you that I won't let parental madness cause me to subject you to many more of these in the course of his visit!

Friday, June 22, 2007

A brown and white pair

This is a kind of rock pile one sees occasionally, for example at the Benfield Land in Carlisle.

This one was all I found on a particular little hill\knoll. (I predicted would be a good place to look for rock piles but the good place was actually across the road, 30 yards away.

More scenes from out west of here

Following along the edge of the lower wetlands and up over hills, I saw piles at the edge of a drop-off in several different places. They could have been field clearing piles. Like thisand thisBut there were also wedged rocks:
and simple patterns:
After that, you get to a larger rock pile site. So perhaps the "field clearing" piles of above are not that.

A small U structure

From out west of here:

Rock piles in Redding CT

Reader Brent C. writes in:

I found a new rockpile in Redding CT. You were right these things are everywhere! Found even more in Sharon but too dense with leaves to capture images at this point.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A very large rock pile - more from "out west of here"

Last weekend and two weekends ago I have been exploring around the edges of a region of multiple rock pile sites, hoping to see new piles and hoping to get a better sense of the scope of the sites in the region. The piles here are what I call "monumental" because they use large rocks and are large piles and are often in groups with a variety of shapes and sizes - suggesting complex use and, at least in my speculation, suggesting use by multiple people at the same time, performing different roles in more complex ceremonies. As far as I know these sites do not occur in eastern MA but are rather a "central Mass." phenomenon. I have compared this "out west of here" site with the ones we saw near Moosehorn Rd in New Salem.

Last weekend, exploring around the edges of one of the known groups of piles, I came accross what, for me, is a really big rock pile. Although badly damaged (in my opinion) it included all kinds of rectalinear structure: extra corners around the edge, evidence of internal walls, etc. Here is a view from a slight distance: It forms a hill of its own. I only know two piles of similar size: one at Whipple Hill in Lexington and one in Hayden Woods in Wayland.

Here are views from above the other side, where most of the retaining wall is still visible:
In this last picture, note the extra corner in the retaining wall. Note also what looks like damage on the right.

Here is one more view from above of a long trench in the pile. Note how the piled up rock are higher to the left than the right. I think this trench was dug into the existing pile and the rocks were moved from inside the trench to the left in the picture. So I think this is vandalism. Walkind around and over the pile it looked like it was dug into in multiple places. If this is correct then I can say that with only one exception, every single large pile in the region was excavated - maybe ten piles in all.
It is all the more surprising to me that I did find one un-damaged pile (shown a few days ago).

If all these piles were worth excavating then someone must have been finding something - cuz it is a lot of work and would not have been continued if it was not rewarding. So I know this is just a house of cards but it makes me wonder: where are the private collections of artifacts around here? What do they contain?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More from out west of here - a big rock with radiating lines around it.

June 19 2007 Out exploring around the XXX and re-found this site with piles around a large boulder. The location is about south from the main "XXXX" site, along the edge of the laurel.

This is a site along a drop-off facing to the west. There is a large boulder in the center, where you can sit, and there are both well preserved piles and loose, possibly damaged structures radiating from the direction of the boulder. Here are views from, respectively the North East, East, South East, and South - the last photo being the closest approximation to the view of the sketch.

We approach the big rock from the NE
Skirt in a clockwise direction we see another broken down structure East of the big rock.

Continuing, when we get to the SE we see a pile in better shape.
And continuting to the South we see another pile in a good shape with a semblance of a vertical face. The direction of this photo approximately matches the leftmost part of the sketch above.
There is some kind of structure between the big rock and here.

Climbing on top of the big rock to look around, you can see several outlying "natural" rocks sticking up as well as all of the piles and along the lines of the radiating structures. So why not a kind of medicine wheel? One perplexing thing is that the flat faces of the two "flat-faced" piles are positioned perpendicular to the lines lines radiating from the big rock.

VIDEO: Native American Ritual Stone Structures of Northeastern United States

posted by JimP

Video by James and Mary Gage

Monday, June 18, 2007

A big mound of a rock pile, undamaged. From west of here

A rock pile with Mountain Laurel - from west of here

More From Larry Harrop - Tefft Hill (RI)

by JimPOnce again I gave directions to Larry Harrop so he could find yet another rock pile site that I knew about in the Arcadia Management Area. Arcadia is an interesting place for study because so much of it is completely devoid of features, yet there are sizable patches of stone structure sites to be found dotting the landscape here and there -- most found in close association with hills above spring-fed wetlands.

[CLICK HERE] to see Larry's gallery from Tefft Hill.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

New From Larry Harrop - Wildcat Spring (RI)

by JimPLarry has a new gallery up of photos he took at Wildcat Spring -- a natural spring site in Exeter, RI, long-rumored to be historically and spiritually important to the Narragansett Indians.

[CLICK HERE] to see Larry's gallery from Wildcat Spring.

[CLICK HERE] to see more photos from rock pile sites nearby Wildcat Spring.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Rhode Island--Any News

By Geophile

Probably shouldn't make a new post just for this, but does anyone have an update about Nipsachuck?

From a reader

My name is Bruce A***, and I've been photographing in the woods for
quite a number of years now, around the area of Ottawa, Canada.
For the most part I've simply enjoyed seeking out patterns of
filtered light and tree limbs, but I've long taken note of the stones and
boulders and little escarpments that live in the conservation areas around
Ottawa. Then I more or less stumbled onto

Your part of the continent obviously displays a lot more richness in
its rockpiles than my part up here. The trails I walk have their occasional
pioneer house foundations alongside, and one trail is dedicated to the ruins
of a 19th-century lime kiln. But we seem to be lacking in mysterious stone
walls and the rockpiles I've noticed so far seem a bit more ambiguous than
yours. :>

Nevertheless, I trotted out to the woods specifically with rockpiles
in mind the other day, and I've prepared a few shots in a gallery if you're

The picture titled "a subtle cluster" shows the sort of ambiguity
I'm talking about. Its clearly a collection of stones of similar size, but
not the sort of pile that stands out. I've taken to alling these things

The picture "how we say what is human" shows what is pretty
obviously the result of a bored lunch hour while clearing brush, but I use
it to think about how we judge what is manmade and what is natural. How do
we know a collection of stones has been placed by the hand of man and not by
geological action? And then, how to know what was placed in antiquity, and
what was put there five years ago after a grad party?

I'm still learning.

The last three shots - two of a stone with a pronounced, rounded,
groove as well as "tooth" marks, and one of a vertically-placed triangular
stone - are my best indicators so far of the possibility that better things
lie in these woods. Not a 20-minute walk from my house are three glacial
erratics that cause me no doubt at all: they have the rounded-but-ground-up
look of glacial artifacts. But as undoubted natural features, these contrast
strongly with the look of many smaller stone features I'm seeing, which are
squared or angular.

I don't have a dog in the fight over who exactly produced these rock
artifacts. But I will say that I think North America was well-known in
antiquity and although an ocean is a barrier to a tweedy academic, it's a
highway to anyone who's alternative is slow and rigorous land travel.

Won't keep you. Have a look at the pictures. If you like, there's
more woods-walking pictures in the gallery at

Cheers and good luck!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

One more little example

Here is one more very minor rock pile. Can you guess why someone would bless this rock with two little "offerings"? I am guessing the quartz vein has something to do with it.

Spruce Hill site in Ohio Saved

By Geophile

Just a note. It looks like that Spruce Hill Hopewell site in Ohio has been saved from auction. Article here.

Split wedged rocks from out west of here

Continuing the photos from last weekends exploration. I did not see any split-wedged rocks on the new part of the hill where I found a site but later over on another hill (just north of the larger red outline of several posts ago), I did come into an area with several split-wedged rocks. Here are ones I noticed:As I mentioned when I starting posting about this site [here] there are several different locations with large piles, made from large rocks. I believe the site is well integrated over the landscape even though the individual piles are pretty badly damaged. It is a place worth more study. It reminds me a bit of the "monumental" pile architecture I saw out new Moosehorn Rd in New Salem [Click here]

Paquimé, Mexico: Fire-Signaling Features

by JimPHilltop cairns in Mexico known as, "atalayas," or fire-signaling features.
[CLICK HERE] to read the report.

Some of the image links in the report are broken, but I found them. You can see them here:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

More pics from out west of here

Some other nice piles from the site I was just describing:
Another nice one:
And a detail:Note the white rock. This is near the top of the hill but the same theme appeared near the bottom:I would say fewer than 30 piles on the slope.