Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Stupid Sheet - new revision including lunar standstills

Rock circle and stone wall - Wellesley, MA

From Ji:

These are more basic.
On the stone clrcle--Noting the shape, the dimensions and the quartzite, this could possibly be a grave.There's one other small stone circle, which is quite striking. Different from this, same area.
The stone wall has no correlation to property lines that we can see, and its proximity to these rock circles is also kind of curious.

In the woods in the rain - Harvard, Boxborough, Littleton

with lousy color fidelity and poor blurry pictures. I am not sure which town this is in. A split wedged rock on the right at the termination of a line of stones to the left.Here is a look down the line:Speaking of impractical stone walls, here is one I have shown before, a short stretch of wall only existing on a little rise of dirt projecting into the water.
A sense of alignment:
And a more dramatic example of the same, at least another suggestive alignment.I was cutting across the edge of a rock pile site I had been to before, so I only took a couple of pictures in passing. Some nice colors:
Here is an old friend from the road nearby. I think Mavor and Dix call this a "Harvard Chamber".
But this chamber may be on the Littleton and Boxborough line. For example, a few feet away is a boundary marker with a "B" suggesting "Boxborough".
Note the chunk of quartz in the wall behind it.

Simple Form of Ecosystem Management

I keep thinking about a few words (I just used in a post) from that A.M. Gibson quote from “The American Indian (1980).” I came across it on page 25 of that book:
“…simple form of ecosystem management.”
I think, alternately, “Yes it’s simple,” but then, as I look at the contributions at RockPiles, I say “No, it’s not that simple.”
There’s so much interconnected stuff going on – there’s the practical and the ceremonial, there’s a reflection of the sky in there, tied to the land, the sea, the rivers, the springs, and so much more that is missing from the “record,” the history, that we Rock Pilers see evidence of in stone structures - and the outcrops of the big stone we call Earth.
(He even uses a figure I've written about, drawn my own conclusions from, and has prompted me to draw my own pictures (like here: http://wakinguponturtleisland.blogspot.com/2006/10/more-gary-snyder-control-burn.html) as I look at stone structures all around me...)
Gibson writes about “The Golden Age of American Prehistory,” describes the Southwestern Cultures and the eastern Hopewell and Adena, but what about that eastern seaboard – and beyond?
There’s a story in these stones, placed as they were after the glaciers retreated, continued to be placed just so over the next 20,000 years as Native American civilizations advanced and thrived until very recently, the past few hundred years just a drop in the bucket...

Return to the Mortar/Turtle (Part One)

This "Return" will take a few posts...
Up in the northwest corner of CT, fairly recently, a road was bulldozed into former farmland to create something called Technology Park. Remnants of stone fences from the farm are still visible here and there, but I have this idea that many of these fences were built over existing stone rows that had been there hundreds (thousands?) of years, firebreak devices of the Native Americans who once lived there, part of their ecosystem management scheme.
And I also came across another textbook from another family member – my daughter this time. Apparently (note the word parent contained in that word) my wife and I financed the purchase of “The American Indian; Prehistory into the Present” by Arrell Morgan Gibson – for $60.75 plus tax. My daughter was born in 1981; the book was published the year before. The book’s point of view could be sort of summed up as how the American Indian reacted to the waves of Empires that took over the Indians’ Homeland, sometimes called Turtle Island.

So I’ll return to that little section of land I started talking about and showed a photo of a quartzite mortar stone (Teaser Pix ), a little bit of that “vast estate” along the Greater Housatonic River System, where rows of stones were used in order control a burn in a relatively densely populated area, protected from the bulldozer in modern times still because it is inside the boundary of an inland wetland inside an industrial park.

I followed the wrong stone row trying to return to the place and drew a picture of that row that I posted at Rock Piles (Soon Come ). I’ll amend that here with a drawing of the “next row to the north” of that row. You’ll be looking west from inside the wetland area, and so the top drawing is south, the bottom to the west and if you'd like you could imagine them joined together to get a general feel for how this section would appear, sort of a stylistic representation, trees and brush and poison ivy left out for clarity…
I found the fields I entered following the the bulldozer path using MapQuest, pretty much the same view I got from Google Earth, north at the top. The fields in the upper right are part of the Dairy Farm…

A detail with landmarks added…

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Walls at Cononchet

Norman Muller writes:

Larry Harrop has put together a series of photos and a map explaining unusual wall or row constructions at Canonchet, RI. The link is http://larryharrop.com/wall2/

Downhill from Mavor and Dix's "central mound"

I mentioned here that there were other large rock piles in addition to the one described in M&D and also within the innermost area surround by stone walls. Downhill nearer to a in their diagram was this smaler mound:Then a sort of gateway between rocks, filled with cobbles:Note the large triangular rock in the background. Here it is closer up: It is surrounded by still more cobbles and just beyond is where two stone walls meet in an acute angle at a.

Orange Mushroom

Does it announce its non-edibility or is it a ruse?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Teaser Pix

Could not resist revisiting the "Soon Come" place - rather than trying to find it again in the rain.

A few teaser pix until I have enough time to do it justice by writing it all up...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cisco Hills

Mavor and Dix describe, on pp 279-281 of Manitou, a site in the Boxborough woods which is behind one of the Cisco buildings. Bruce McAleer figured out where this place is. Mavor and Dix spend particular attention describing curious features within the outline of stone walls at the center of their illustration but, more generally, the whole area is full of unusual stone structures. Let me quote from the book:

"The structures located in Figure 11-9 include a complex array of stone rows, mounds, standing stones, etc., along both banks of a stream flowing south to join Beaver Brook.
In the central potion of the figure, a is an acute angled cornier, where two stone rows neet at a stream (dotted line). At b, there is an embrasure in a stone row near c, a lintelled passage to permit flow of a seasonal stream beneath the row. A mound d, about 25 yards in diameter and six feet high is located adjacent to the stream.... Feature e is a stone enclosure with a roof of stone slabs located at the edge of the stream and seasonally nearly full of water. It has an undergound passage about five yards long extending from the water's edge uphill to an opening at the northeast end"

The mound they mention (like this one)
is actually only one of three or four in the valley. Very big, very broken down, in the style of Whipple Hill but built on exposed ledges. I could not tell if they might be from field clearing and you can look at some pictures later and try to decide. There is evidence of separate "cart sized" piles making up the larger pile but the rocks are bit too uniform in size. With all the other rock piles around, ones which are in no way field clearing related, it is hard to imagine that these are. Maybe the kind of water passage they describe is a certain type of well, and perhaps this little valley is what is left of someone's residence. But there is really no evidence for anything like that. After reading M&D again I think they were mystified as to the nature of this place. It is probably worth several more visits. It is also worth re-reading that section of Manitou. I am lucky to live nearby. Here is another of the big piles, I think this is the one mentioned in the book.
On page 281 of Manitou, they continue:
"Shown at the bottom of Figure 11-9 as a group of dots is a field of stone mounds situated on a hillside plateau.".

I can tell you that is one great "field of stone mounds". I used it as one of the "Three Rock Pile Sites" [Click here].

More about this valley later.

Soon Come

I've been waiting for a week for some rain to wash clean an interesting boulder.

Perhaps the quartz will photograph better, wet with rain, and the many shades of red will be more apparent. I followed a linear row with the Indian Look, which ended with a big end stone. I stepped over the zigzag row that borders the wetland area - marked with blue ribbons,
in an industrial park...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More Rhinebeck Cairrns

Reader Ji writes:

Here are pictures of more cairns along the same Rhinebeck creekbed which has a long serpentine cairn, we've seen previously. In this case the rocks are building upon naturally occurring formations.[Note from PWAX: I saw something similar this weekend]

A stone enclosure

From the Boxborough woods.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Exploring a valley in Harvard, MA (part 3)

I have given some sense of this site in previous posts (here and here). This is a more personal account:I parked and walked into the woods figuring, since this is Harvard, I was bound to find something in there. Walked up the east side of the valley following the brook and trying to scan around under the trees. At the brook I saw a tumbled down pile on the other side, so I crossed to explore. It was so broken down and un-structured, I was not convinced it was ceremonial. Who knows? These woods have seen a lot of action and this is the heart of the "Shaker" lands of Harvard - with rock piles everywhere anyway. [The sort of place where you might find a cream bottle in a rock pile.]

From this first faint site I figured I better head uphill, pushing upward through the pine saplings - not that I expected to see anything but just to make sure I was exploring the whole valley. So I was pleased to find a little grouping of rock piles:See how they are placed around an open space? Here are three closeups:The first and third seem almost representational.

I went a little further up hill and saw the first of the springs with water coming out of the side of the hill. This is a slightly unusual topography: springs on the side or a reasonable steep sloped hill. So you could be at a spring but also looking out over a valley at the same time. The first spring I found was flanked by two impressive rock-on-rocks. Here is one, seen through the bushes:Here is the other:You can see there is a lot of tumbled down rock piles in both pictures, not to mention the rock-on-rocks. Here is a nice montage:Christmas ferns and Cinnamon ferns were growing everywhere along here. Most of the piles were long gone but there has plenty of evidence of structure:Many of the piles looked like this a bit of rock pile on a boulder and a smear more or less downhill from the rock:I figure this is just damaged piles - it used to all be on top of the support rock.

There was one place that a rectangle of soil seemed disturbed - 10x20 yards.The disturbance might have been the excavating of the rock that were used in piles all around. Or something else?Here we are deep in the ferns:There must have been thirty or so rock piles in all.

After poking arounda bit more, I came up to the edge of the houses and headed back downhill. Back in the alluvial wetland there were one or two other rock piles and then I tried to cut between houses to get to a different part of the woods. But I was turned around a bit and ended up going back out pretty much the same way I came in.

Since so many of the rock piles were damaged it is hard to guess there original nature. There was a bit of "marker pile" feel to to the place and also a bit of an "effigy pile" feel to the place. An interesting and slightly unusual site.