Monday, March 31, 2008

Lighter posting for the next week

Going to Maine on business for a week, I probably won't be blogging much.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Photos From Simon Hill -- *Threatened Site*

by JimP

The woman who told me about Simon Hill in Norwell, MA sent along the following photo of a small stone mound from the site.Bruce McAleer also visited the site. He reported at least 25 rock piles there. He sent along this photo:I'm told that more than 3/4 of the hill is slated for development. Just six privately owned acres will be saved from the 200 condo construction.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

RIP Wamesit Indian

In Tewksbury they erected a monument to the Indians who used to live there, at the edge of a Great Swamp, at a Praying Indian village called "Wamesit". Here are some views from the little park they have there, next to Rt 38:The statue is expressive but a little awkward. The Indian holds a fishing spear.
"Dedicated to the memory of a proud, peace loving
people, who inhabited these lands under the
rule of Passaconoway, the sachem and
Bashaba, as recorded by the Reverend John
Eliot in the year 1648

Donated through
The Committee of Interested Citizens Inc.
Tewksbury Massachusetts.
June 17, 1989"

A video from nearby:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Driving along the road - a site with pile-gap-piles

I was leaving the place just mentioned and had gone no more than a few hundred yards from where I had parked when I noticed some more rock piles right next to the road. A small site like this would be barely worth mentioning except that there were a couple of examples of probable "pile-gap-pile" arrangements. So I wanted to show these.

Here is one:and here, perhaps, is another:A problem is that once you start imagining that you are seeing these then every rock next to a rock pile becomes suspect.

There are only two other sites I know that have multiple examples of this kind of structure. One is called "Above the Falls" and the other was in Westford/Tyngsborough. These are all very water- related places. For lack of better phrase I call them "pile-gap-pile" and imagine them as gateways, where the piles define so-called "negative space". For other references see here. As I look over old examples, I am surprised that I saw them in so many different places, I thought they were more rare.

A classic re-worked boulder

I mentioned a large boulder with walls emanating from it, as related to the "burial ground" site I described here. The walls go out from this boulder to form the sides of that site.On one side of the boulder (farthest from the site), a simple enclosure is defined between the boulder and a sequence of rocks. Inside the crack are some wedges:Imagine, if you will, sitting in the enclosure with this crack next to your head. You would probably want to keep the wedges there most of the time.

Some Irish rock piles

Reader Diana writes in:
...the rocks are in Ireland in Co Sligo. They are located in the middle of a woods that was planted fro commercial use and were discovered during felling operations. They vary in size and shape as you can see from the attached pictures and some are in very close proximity.They are in a few fields in the corner of a townland just beside an old farmhouse that possibly dates fromt the early 1800's. Its a relatively undisturbed area as the woods makes it quite difficult for walking as does the terrain which is in the middle of a glacial valley so there would have been numerous rock deposits around.
I've no problem with you publishin the pictures. Might even give us some answers. They arent the best quality because the lightin was very poor and with the trees you caould only get individual close ups as opposed to a picture of the whole scene.
I'd be grateful of any suggestions or any similiar structures you've come across and their potential purpose.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Looking at old pictures.

Once the location of these gets misplaced their intellectual value diminishes. But there is still plenty of aesthetic value. This nice pile is in the background in this picture:
How about this one?
And a different favorite place:
Shoot! I have to go back to some of these places.

Oops I archived last weekend

I was so busy burning CDs and wrestling with poorly designed Windows software, I ended up archiving the pictures I was going to blog about. And now I am too tired to go through the stack of CDs for the files. Maybe over the weekend.

What to do about old image files?

I am making room on my hard-drive by emptying a 10 gigabyte "temp" folder full of old pictures and videos of rock piles. The CDs I am using for backup will not work for more than a couple of years.
Any suggestions about what to do with these old pics?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Along the outcrops

On the way in and back out, from the graveyard-like site I just described, I followed the outcrops. And there were a number of interesting things along there. For example this rock pile, half way up a ridge:And a couple of examples of structure built into the outcrop:
Or hints of something in a line:A bit of a rock pile:And behind it some kind of enclosure:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A knoll beside a brook

Last weekend I decided to explore in XXXXX, thinking that this confluence of brooks (left of center in the map fragment) was a likely spot to find something. I arrived from the north, down between the brooks and saw a small knoll with another little brook draining down its side, sparkling. The place is circled on the map. Coming up to it, it looked something like this:In this picture the main brook is crossing left to right and the smaller brook is draining down the left side of the knoll. To the right side of the knoll is an old road, and there are indistinct stone walls around. I figured I should check out the top of the knoll, ~15 feet higher that the surrounding wetland. At the top there was a small rock pile site, surrounded by stone walls on all sides, with two openings in the walls, one to the east and one to the west. At first I barely realized there was something there: In the foreground there is an inconspicuous pile built on the ground. In the background a large rock with a bit more rock pile on it. Here is a closeup:Behind that, the wet place draining into the small brook beside the knoll. As I looked around I saw that there were other ground piles: And you can imagine I was wondering if any of the piles had a piece of white quartz in them. At perhaps the highest point of the knoll, one pile did have a piece of quartz: Not only is there piece of quartz (you may have to click on photo to see it better) but the largest rock in the pile is shaped like a manitou stone. Recently it has been said several times that rocks shaped like this are special in the context of rock piles. I have told you before that I think these piles mark burials.

Here is a view back towards the north from the back of the knoll:
The rich colors were pretty: The site is flanked by stone walls and there are openings in the walls that would allow a cart to enter. Here is the eastern entrance: Here is the western entrance: I have been told it is a European tradition for graveyards to have two entrances. But there is a lot about the site that fits my idea of a contact period Native American graveyard - perhaps a plague burial. There was water to every side and ground piles scattered randomly over the knoll. I counted about 12 or 13 piles and imagine a small family group laid to rest here; or is it something else with the number 13 being significant? I vote for a simple graveyard.

About 50 yards away, a large boulder with stone walls emanating from it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Simon's Hill Threatened

by JimP
I received an e-mail yesterday concerning a possible site in MA threatened by development. According to the author of the e-mail, plans are currently underway to build 200 condos on Simon's Hill in Norwell, MA.

Are there stone structures on Simon's Hill? Unfortunately, I'm 1700 miles away so I don't know. But I can tell you that Simon's Hill is chock full of Native history. The hill itself is named for an Indian who lived there. Furthermore, the Massachusetts Historical Commission wrote in a Reconnaissance Report in their Town Survey between 1979 and 1987 that on and about Simon's Hill were evidences of Late Woodland, First Period, and Colonial Period Native occupation. In fact, it says, "vestiges of native population," occupied the site as late as the latter half of the 18th century.

According to the topo map from the 19th century above, the hill is surrounded by two swamps. Both swamps have very interesting names. One is called Burnt Plain Swamp -- perhaps named for the twice-yearly burning done by the Indians near that site? The other is called Hoop Pole Swamp -- the Native American hoop and pole game perhaps?

Nonetheless, this site has so much Native history and is very much threatened. If anyone out there could do some investigating, I think this one may be worthwhile.

New photos from East Hampton CT

Tim MacSweeney has some photos of the East Hamton site at Waking Up on Turtle Island.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Standing stone

by theseventhgeneration

This is the standing stone that is near the propped rock from the last post. This is the 'back' side:

There is another rock there, forming a split on the back side of the standing stone, with upright stones on one end, making something like a 3 sided box.

This is the 'front' side, which I'm only calling the front because this is the side that faces the propped rock. I put my half meter stick on it to see if it is visible from the propped rock.

And, it is, albeit a little hard to see. This is a cropped picture, to bring the standing stone closer into view. You may have to click on the picture to see the standing stone in the background. It's just to the left of the smooth barked tree (black birch?).

I have a correction to the prior post. I stated in my post and on the diagram that the direction is North, but it is East, not North. I apologize for making such an error and I'll put in an update to correct the prior post.

So, in the picture above, the direction of the stone's 'tip' on the right side of the photo is East.

Propped Rock

by theseventhgeneration

This small structure is near a creek branch that runs into the West Branch of the Delaware River. It's the first rock I've found that is propped by 3 supports, but it has me baffled by its small size. Nevertheless, I believe it has several features that are noteworthy. All the more reason to believe it's man made.

The shape of the propped rock and the direction of the elongated rocks around the structure. They run, generally, north/south:

[Update/correction: the direction is east/west]

The 3 supporting rocks underneath are triangular.

The supported stone has lots of character. Intersecting lines and some other interesting chip or notch are in this view.

I went back out today, after a light coating of snow, and the natural line on the top of the rock struck me differently this time. When I first saw it, I thought it was somewhat of a feminine suggestion, but now, with the snow, it looks more serpentine, I think.

I made a rough sketch of the structure as an attempt to illustrate that there are only 3 rocks supporting the top rock, even though there are other rocks nearby and/or underneath that look like they are touching.

[Update/correction: the direction indicated in the diagram is east, not north]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rock pile revealed by the snow melt

Boundary Marker

This is a very typical boundary marker. There is a small stick supported by the rocks and it is an isolated pile.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Oland Lane Southborough, MA

Finally getting off that hill, I had to sneak between a couple of Mac Mansions to get out to a road which turned out to be called "Oland Ln". As I walked out the driveways and onto the road, there to the side, what is this?
Is it from a farmer clearing his field?
Someone being tidy with their spare rocks? Nearby was a dam that looked to be from the 18th century.

A larger pile like this is comparatively rare. Much easier to find a marker pile site than one of these.