Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How I spent my summer vacation

My summer vacation was in Falmouth on Cape Cod, where I have already explored for three summers and where I did not expect to find many new rock pile sites. But in the end I found 4 and extended my knowledge of some others. One new site was only a couple hills over from Mavor and Dix's "Boulder Ridge" [p.62 Manitou] - a nice little cove that is completely hidden. I got the double pleasure of seeing a new site and being the first to see the secret place.

Aside from bragging about my finds I hope I can report on some of the similarities and differences between the sites. Frankly I do not see too much site variety in the Falmouth and believe Mavor and Dix are right that the sites had a calendrical function. Yet it is the contour of the land and the types of plants that I am most struck by as I explore. Certain shapes of hill, certain tops of small gullies, presence of water and of stone walls - these are what seem to predict where sites will be. They seem to be useful guides. The astronomical hypothesis, although likely, does not predict the landscape where the sites appear. [As a side note, Mavor would argue that the astronomical hypothesis did help to locate sites - he walked outward from a large "Indian Rock" at the Falmouth Technology Park, following a direct line towards the winter solstice sunset and found two clusters of rock piles.]

At the beginning of vacation I explored more in the "Webster Woods" we called the "Caddy Camp Woods" between Woods Hole and Quissett. And found one new cluster of rock piles in a kind of valley on the northwestern edge of the woods. These were typical marker piles on the slopes of a brief valley. Then I explored more out north of Falmouth on Rt 28 trying the woods near Rt 151, then the woods along Thomas Landers Rd, then revisiting a site along Brick Kiln Rd. It was after that I started finding new sites closer to home in Woods Hole. Along Thomas Landers Rd I had found one small site in the blueberries. Then after revisiting a site on Brick Kiln Rd and studying its layout more carefully, I found a new site that was quite like it, with very similar topography. I also found a small kettle hole site to the west of the wastewater treatment facility fence. All of these sites could be called "marker piles in the blueberries". On the last day down on the Cape, I thought there might be some part of Beebee Woods I missed on previous explorations. So I went and took a couple of pictures of a split-filled rock and, without much hope, headed off uphill and off the trail, into the bull-briar...found a nice spot, followed a valley uphill...found a somewhat different kind of site. With which I was well pleased.

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