Friday, January 02, 2009

Rock pile sites northeast of Mt Pisgah - Berlin, MA

I see from previous postings about Mt Pisgah [click here] that it is a place I published maps for, so here is a new map showing new locations at A and E. A few weeks ago I decided to explore a new area east of Mt Pisgah because it seemed likely I would find some new rock piles near where I found them in the past. There are two main entrances to the conservation land: one in Northborough on Ball's Hill Rd (lower left of the map fragment above) and the other on Linden Street in Berlin, where the road goes around a bend. I wanted to go in via the Linden Street entrance and explore some of the lower reaches of the brooks draining the "mountain".

So I parked on Linden Str. then stayed to the right, getting over the edge of the small hill there and down to the side of the brook across from the open fields at A on the map. I saw an isolated pile or two on the hillside but started believing I was at a"site" when I came to a small pile across a stone wall from the brook.There was another structure against the wall which I thought was deliberate and not just a tumbled bit of wall:Then I came up to this collection of rocks looking out over the brook:Let's have another look from in front:Is it my imagination or, of the two rock-on-rocks, is one deliberately light colored and the other dark? Let's look through the gap from the other direction towards the brook:
I am convinced this is a deliberate "gap" or "gateway" structure opening to the brook. The idea that this is something specific is re-enforced by there being similar structures nearby. In fact, just up the brook on Mt Pisgah (see photos 2, 3, and 4 at this same link [click here]) and I believe this is a simple version of what I called "pile-gap-pile" (see examples here and here). By now I am ready to propose this is one specific type of pile and a type of site that usually occurs adjacent to a brook and that its purpose includes some kind of passageway between the water and a user or something at the site. This is a simple example of such a gateway. Can we call this a gateway site? Somehow a gateway through rock seems a dominant idea in (my idea of) Native American landscape use.

I continued upstream to a bend in the brook with one more rock pile at around B on the map.This might have been representative but is scrambled. Then I continued over to the mouth of the brook draining the central valley that divides Mt Pisgah along a North/South line. There, at the foot of the hill, I saw some of the large rock-on-rocks I had seen before:I also noticed this provocative little structure:A very deliberately propped up slab of rock.

From there I went across the hill to the east, combing a bit, and worked my way over towards the little lake you see in the map fragment to the upper right near E. Now it is a fact that over in this "part of town" that almost every small lake seems to have rock piles along its eastern edge (for example Rocky Pond in Boylston). So I figured it was worth making my way over there to have a look. Granted it is a man-made lake and probably not that old but it was worth a shot and it payed off. As soon as I got over there I found a collection of badly smeared out rock piles. All we can really say about them is where they are located.
If you were not looking for these things you just would not notice them:It is good knowing where to look but it is too bad so little information is available about this type of place. If the lake was absent earlier when the piles were built, then they would have simply been at the foot of a ridge, a bit like the site from Sudbury the other day [click here].

Talk about inconspicuous:I was well pleased with my exploration, and was back at my car a few minutes later.


Larry Harrop said...

A lot going on at this site. The gap seems to be wider then it should be if it was natural. Looks like some quartz has been removed from it too.
The propped slab or boulder with the stacked support stones is an awesome find.
Bob Miner just took a picture of a similar structure with stacked support stones at Canonchet, RI
Unfortunately, it was snowing hard at the time making it difficult to see it in his photos. Hopefully, he'll get back with some better pictures and I'll point out the similarities on my blog.

pwax said...

About that propped up slab: I realize, sitting here at home, that it is not the propping that is significant so much as the possible shape of the upper rock.