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.


Tim MacSweeney said...

I find myself once again amazed! And yes, I am re-reading these pages from M&D and yes I do hope you both will return. It was always one of my favorite passages in Manitou, mentioning weirs, showing map with the rows and the stream etc, even a stone (H in fig. 11-11)similar to the tobacco bear,and of course mentioning a burned over landscape, quite distracting me from a great number of things this morning.
Ceremony and sky are mentioned, but I wonder about the management by fire of the spaces within the borders of the stone rows, the perhaps staggered schedule of a burn to promote or prevent the growth of resources - the eco-regions. Here in NW CT, along the Housatonic river system, I would suspect (and would be surprised not to find) zigzag rows further protecting the riparian zone of the stream. How does this area appear in the old maps on that historic map link from the NEARA resources page o'maps???
(a private email would be OK rather than a public response)

Norman said...

You should ask George Krusen about this site. He has ideas about it.