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.

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