Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A new rock pile site in Weston, MA

I spotted yet another small hill surrounded by wetland on a Weston Conservation Land map and headed out Sunday to explore the place. I had to walk in from the west and when I got to the hill, I cut left up the western flank of the hill zig-zagging up and down and looking at every one of the few rocks that appeared above the surface. I found one low rock pile and thought I better get good pictures because - you never know - it might be all I would find on the walk. And I was thinking that Weston belongs in the category of "never disappoints" rather than "rarely disappoints". Every conservation land I go into over here has some rock piles in it. I saw two pile on the west side: one flat and buried under the leaves, the other like this:
Now that I look at the pictures, I think there was more going on here than just this one pile. For example the smaller rocks in the background:Or this, nearby:
So I circled more to the north end of the hill and continued trying to keep track of everything on the slope, from down at the edge of the wetland to up higher on the shoulder. First thing over on the north side, there was a small pile on a support boulder and again, I thought this would probably be all that I would see, so I took a number of pictures. But then, continuing to circle the hill clockwise, on the northeast side I found a little group right at the top of the steep part, and after that I stopped wondering about whether I would see any rock piles during the walk. I caught a glimpse of a boulder up at the top of the hill, and went up to take a closer look. And here was a truly interesting structure:
It is about eight feet high and, believe it or not, that is a single course of small rocks (about 8'' across) built like "lace" with numerous holes through it.
What technique! I figure this for a modern construction but there were what looked like old rock piles all around.. Here is my initial reaction to a strange structure.

So then I went around taking pictures of the many, older piles. These were all made from the same kind of brown bedrock, were all completely smeared out with little remaining shape. And mostly covered with leaves. They seemed to be placed along one main ridge and the sides of the ridge, all visible from the highpoint with the boulder and the strange structure. The piles also occurred along a secondary ridge fifty yards to the west. I thought I should photo every pile and then post the pictures. Each pile required a separate effort from someone. I'll put those in separate post. But here are a few examples:
So I walked around the site, scouting down the sides of the ridges seeing maybe around twenty piles. At the southern end of the main ridge - really only about 60 yards from the curious boulder structure - there was another little knoll and a rock pile with a rusted spade, handle-less, draped over a rock. Sort of saying "I am here, I am still working on this site.
Also nearby, a small rock pile with perhaps a collection of alcoholic offerings, or perhaps just the accummulated litter from the trail,
But sombody did those things. Somebody came here and used real stone mason skills. Someone came and cleaned up. It is this mixture of new and old things that makes this site confusing but also interesting.

I think most of the piles would be visible if you are sitting on top of the rock. Did the person who built a lacy wall on top of that boulder realize it? Was someone here five years ago who understood this place?

After that I explored more of the flatter southern end of the hill and there were another two or three clusters of rock piles down there which I'll show in a later post.


Geophile said...

That structure on top is extraordinary! Bot it doesn't look as if it would survive through the kinds of storms that drive through the northeast. Do you think it could be very recent?

Anonymous said...

There are fragile looking inuksuits in northern Canada that are found in flat open terrain nprotected by trees of hills. For hundreds if not thousands of years they have been subjected to the wild weather in that barren part of the world, yet they are still intact.


pwax said...

I am so astounded that something like that could stay up for even 10 seconds. I almost forget to wonder what it is for.

Anonymous said...

why are stone piles found so close to stone walls? wouldn't the builders of the stone walls use these piles? I have found a lot of piles near, and not to far, from walls like i see the the background of your first few pics. Surely an easy picking for good rocks.