Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stone Platform Mounds - Brooklyn CT

Norman Muller writes:

I am attaching a half dozen images of three large platform mounds on private property in Brooklyn, CT, that I photographed on a hot April day in 2005. One (004 and 007) is beside a small stream. A hundred yards or so away is a huge platform mound (013), which measures more than forty feet along one side and is seven feet high (note the metric stick leaning against the well preserved side). Other shots of this mound (011, 012, 015) show that it has deteriorated significantly on the other sides. Perhaps stones were taken from it to construct nearby colonial walls. A third platform mound (022) is on the same stream as the first one (004), but it is pretty much gone except for the general outline.

View of Spencer Brook...

...over a stone wall with a dead Juniper bush:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Magnificent Platform Pile from Larry Harrop

Just browsing, I had forgotten this one he posted.

Intro to Hopkinton State Forest (last post)

Rock pile video:

(Sorry about some of that voice over.)

Goodbye to Hopkinton State Forest

Rock Piles in Hopkinton State Forest

Reader Nick H emailed a couple of years ago about a rock pile site in Hopkinton State Forest

"Spent most of the day at Hopkinton. There are 70 large piles running from the top of the hill to the bottom, with crude stone lines on either side. Many of the rock piles have niches built in. Have photos and GPS points of all.
Note that there was a "Praying Indian" village only 3 miles away in the late 1600s. "

So last weekend we drove down to Hopkinton to have a look. I hope it is OK to mention that the hill is the one north of the reservoir, mostly inside of the loop road. The site is in plain view from the road and people are aware of it. It consists of numerous shallow ridges of bedrock running across and down the hill and forming sort of scalloped topography; with rock pile placed along and down these the outcrops. The piles mostly had well defined vertical faces but they were not so much laid out in rows as they were evenly spaced down along the outcrops. Have a look:
A closer look:Other "flat faced" examples:andThese piles look pretty undisturbed to me. I guess they have always been out in the open and not subject to falling trees.

Here are views from either end of a group of structures that are almost in a line. But I don't know if what might be more important is the angle they face on the hillside.
The site is on the southern and southwestern side of the hill with a bit spilling onto the top. The seventy piles seem clustered into groups of from five to ten. The site looks out over the Hopkinton Reservoir to the south. Whatever is going on at these sites, is hovering at the edge of consciousness. Again, notice that the uphill side of this pile runs smoothly into the slope. The largest rock in the pile, placed where it is, results in exactly that effect: both a vertical face and a continuation of the uphill slope. I think this should be related to its function. This site will make a nice study example someday.

On the other side of the street, downhill:

Friday, January 29, 2010

Latest news about the Oxford Mound

Norman Muller writes:

There should be a test to determine if archaeologists can see and think clearly. If they fail, they should look for other work.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A visit to Queen's Fort in Exeter, RI

Reader Ted writes:

Visit to the Queen's Fort, Exeter, RI

I am very new to this subject, so please forgive any gaffs or naive mistakes. I have been researching the usual sources. I stumbled (sorry) on the rock pile blog recently and have enjoyed reading the posts. My wife and I have been looking around as time permits, and visited the Queen's Fort in Exeter, RI this past weekend.

Our GPS got us there alright, following coordinates from Fredrick Meli's article posted on the NEARA website. I have to admit we passed it the first time, distracted by the mega-mansion across the street, but we backtracked and found a pull off. Walking up the hill and orienting ourselves, we found the spiral enclosure. We could not help but notice the difference between the appearance of the structure compared to the photo in Mavor and Dix.[here is a scan from p98 of Manitou - PWAX]
The terminus of the foreground wall seems to be missing. We also noticed the recent construction of a fire pit/grill made from stones similar in size and shape to the ones used to construct the spiral structure.Hmmm... Perhaps this is old news, but the recent scattered beer cans and relatively fresh ash and smoke coating inside made us think that might be a recent repurposing of the stones originally in the spiral. Might I ask for some advice from this experienced group? Should the Rhode Island Historical Society, owners of the property, be contacted? Or is the risk tat they might close access too great if that is done? I honesty don't know.

Overall, I had to agree with the idea put forth in the Meli article that this is unlikely to be a defensive fort as the boulder field on the top of the hill makes an impossible area for settlement or occupation. As we explored the walls and nooks we saw something along the east side that looked like a Manitou stone sticking up from a wall. Anyone have an opinion about this:
It was very thin, about 24-26 inches above the rest of the wall. I am beginning to realize we should carry a tape measure and be more careful about taking notes of our visits.

I took some black and white large format panoramic negatives of some of the same views and will be printing them soon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

North Salem NY Historical Society presentation on Corbelled Stone Chambers

Stolen shamelessly from the Polly Midgely's NEARA bulletin board message:


Learn about the efforts to survey, map, register and protect some 53 corbelled stone chambers in Kent -- and how we might do the same with over 15 priceless chambers (including the one in the photo) right here in North Salem Consider the enigmatic questions of who built these extraordinary structures -- and how, when and why.

The Ruth Keeler Memorial LibraryJanuary 31, 20103 p.m.(Snow date: February 7. If the weather is iffy, please visit the library website www.keelerlibrary. org for information)

The Most Photo

My entry for the "most rockpiles in a photo contest."  Click here for further details:  The Most Photo

Appetizer - Hopkinton State Forest

Interesting how the upper surfaces of these piles match the angle of the uphill slope.

Montville, CT Rock Piles

Photographs by Ted Hendrickson, including some of Montville rock piles (see "My Albums"):

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Deer Hunters have their "10 Point Bucks"; Rock Pile Hunters have their....

...little competition to see who can get the most rock piles into a single picture. I think I had a 13 pile picture back when [that would be in the series on "Gilmore Rd"] and recall Larry Harrop pointing out it was not fair because my panorama shot, combining several single photos, was being compared to his single photos. I have always thought Larry takes the best rock pile pictures so, where is that panorama of his? Meanwhile, I counted 11 piles in the view I was photoing here, although they may be hard to make out in the final panorama:
Rules of the competition:
  • Separate categories for panorama or single shot photos
  • Annual entries - enter as often as you like.
  • Photographer can move up to 5 feet while taking the photos.
Consider the above my panorama entry for 2010.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Large Stone Mound - Mill Street Holliston MA

Saw this on a drive:
Tried to zoom the camera a bit (clicking on the photo):It goes without saying that this is in pretty good repair and looks recent. It reminded me of something I read in Mavor and Dix about a modern rock pile built at a spring on a golf-course. Was that Holliston or Hopkinton? I couldn't find it in Manitou when I got home.

The stone mound is roughly here:Update: I just noticed this is a Golf Course. Must be the one mentioned in Mavor and Dix. Cool huh?

Destruction of the Oxford Indian Stone Mound

From the Alabama Archaeological Society. [Click here]

Also see here for an article by Harry Holstein who was the archeologist that surveyed the Oxford Stone Mound recently.

"Mystery of the Stone Mounds"

I never saw this before. Wonder if the author ever did a search with the word "Stone" replaced with "Rock" and the word "Mound" replaced with "Pile"?

He mentions a "Great Stone Serpent" near the Big Sandy found by someone named Brisbin. Anyone have any information about that? Here is a little.

Stone Mounds of Hampshire County, W. Va.

[Click here]

"Boston Hikes"

A blog about hiking around the Boston area, with some photos of the conservation lands I haven't been to.

Rock pile pic from Flikr

Looking for a place to walk, Mt Wilson is a rocky place you pass on the highway. Found this while poking around.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Illegal Bulldozing and the Oxford Mound(s)

Norman Muller sends this link to an article in the Anniston Star. Apparently the Oxford hilltop stone mound may have been related to a earthen mound in the flatlands below. Someone bulldozed it for no apparent reason: maybe spite, maybe because of the rich artifact haul, or maybe because it was a different source of fill. Any hypotheses?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An expert analyzes archeologists' incompetence

Norman Muller pointed me to this about Cupules By Robert G Bednarik. I think I can use the quote as part of "fair use".

"...In fact Clegg explicitly discounts the capacity of ‘experts’ to solve such matters, stating that ‘[t]hese respondent experts clearly knew much less than I remembered from physical geography courses in the 1950s’. I concur, and I would add that much the same applies throughout archaeology. I have noted before that ‘archaeologically untutored observers with a good understanding of natural processes, such as foresters, naturalists, indigenes leading traditional lives and peasants in remote regions’ are often much better qualified than formally educated archaeologists in discriminating between rock art and natural rock markings, or between stone artefacts and similar geofacts. It is well known that many graduate archaeologists are incapable of recognising stone tools effectively (and most archaeologists cannot fully master this in their entire lives), yet I have observed a four-year-old girl who made this distinction without hesitation, recognising stone tools on the ground up to several metres away with unfailing accuracy. I have made many such observations and have come to the conclusion that it is paradoxically a formal archaeological training that inhibits such abilities, and it is also this training that predisposes practitioners to searching for patterns and, having found them, interpreting them as signs of intentionality (Bednarik 1994a). Long-time collectors of stone tools, who typically lack formal archaeological training, are often much better judges of stone artefacts than are university-trained lithics experts and I have observed incredible discriminatory abilities in illiterate autodidacts. ..."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Western view over the pond at Middlesex School

A short stretch of wall: Just a few feet away, a smeared out rock pile: Here is a view in the opposite direction:

A village of blowdowns

Here nature is coming very close to creating a rock pile site. All the trees got blown down here at the same time, leaving a little "village" mounds made of earth and stone.

Small rock "sitting on its hanches"

Also from behind Middlesex School.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A couple of rock piles behind the new tennis courts at Middlesex School

Lovers of Estabrook woods put up a brave fight to make Middlesex School stick to to its non-expansion promises. But to no avail, and they did end up bulldozing several acres and putting in a tennis court. FFC led me back there and we saw a couple of rock piles just at the edge of the bulldozed "zone". Maybe there were other piles there before.
It is kind of an interesting spot. You are pretty high up and you can see Wachusett from one angle - faint and purple in the distance.
You could definately have seen it from where these piles are, if there trees were not in the way. Here is a closeup of that last pile.Couldn't quite convince myself these piles were ancient, clearly there is some recent debris scattered around.But the view is nice and this would have been a good place for rock piles. Site destruction is sad but at least there are more where that came from east, inside the Estabrook woods.

Suspicious spalling of a roc

FFC thought this was an obviously artifact:From behind Middlesex School in Concord, MA.

Isolated rock pile

On my way back from the disappointments of Horse Hill in the snow, I wanted to poke around in a smidgen of conservation land I spotted on the map:I was not sure where the entrance was to the conservation land, so found myself driving to the end of each of several small residential roads to see if there was trail head and parking. I was about to give up and decided to check out one more little road and went to the end of it. At the last moment I noticed this a few feet beyond the end of the road, in somebodies backyard.
Determined to not pass up a sure thing, I actually went to knock on the door (usually I am too shy), found the people in a car in their driveway, watching me. So I asked if I could park and go into the conservation land and they more or less said: no. The lack of hospitality is more interesting than the rock pile. I parked somewhere else and snuck back to grab this photo but I could not get up close. And there was nothing else in the woods - just sand and white pines.

Horse Hill, Groton

I have a rule that I break at my own peril: don't waste time exploring Groton or Dunstable. I know there is supposed to be a stone chamber somewhere in Groton [if anyone knows where it is, please let me know] but all I find there is sand and granite quarries. It is as though these towns (and I can name others like them) had very harsh land use in the 18- and 19- hundreds and no Indians ever came back afterwards to restore the woods.

So I broke my rule because, once upon a time, I found material at Horse Hill in Groton and wanted to go out and explore the fringes of that location, thinking I might find other things. Instead I pretty much concluded that my original find was not ceremonial. But still, in the midst of things - a split wedged rock. So what to conclude?The wall to the right is on the western edge of the dirt road that goes up towards the hill from Martin Pond Rd.

So somebody was fooling around there.

In this same area there were some very short stretches of wall and some loose rocks piled on boulders. But then the house foundations right nearby confuse me.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Franklin MA "Indian Fort" lost and found?

Chris Pittman writes:

I wanted to share these photos with you of a site in Franklin, MA. This is the Franklin "Indian Fort" described in "Manitou". Derek Gunn showed me this place last year and I have been visiting often, after many hours at this large site I still am not sure I have seen it all. There are probably miles of stone rows and the size and quantity of propped and pedestaled boulders and slabs is really extraordinary. Here are the photos: There are 50 photos, please look at all of them. The photos by no means show all of what is there, only highlights. There are rows on berms and what appear to possibly be other earthworks as well. In Manitou, the authors indicate that this place is known locally as an Indian Fort. I can tell you, this place is not mentioned in any of the histories of Franklin, the town Historical Society had never heard of it, and long-time residents in the area that I spoke with had never heard of it, including a woman who has lived less than a mile away for the past 90+ years. A couple of the stones in one part of the "Fort" have marks from steel drills, I did notice. Peter, the photos of the archaeological dig I sent you this week are from this site. I spoke with an archaeologist who told me that the flags I saw were from an archaeological survey, the type of survey routinely done when federally funded construction projects threaten to damage a site. The person I spoke with indicated that he believed that the notations on the flags indicate prehistoric artifacts or features were found. I fear that there may be some kind of construction planned for this area. Next week I am going to find out who owns this land, I have assumed it is town property but I am not sure. I am also going to try to learn more about the findings of the archaeological survey. I live in Franklin close to this site and would be happy to show anybody where it is. I would like to hear your impressions based on these photos. There are an incredible number of ticks at this site so it is best to avoid the place in the warmer months.

Norman Muller writes:
Larry Harrop went to this site in November or early December and photographed the stone rows. He was unimpressed, thinking that the boulders looked like they had been moved around with a bulldozer. As he was leaving, a local told him the rows were constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1930s for managing wetlands. Someone should get to the truth of the matter by contacting the local historical society. Or, if that doesn’t work, there must be some way of determining just what the Corps of Engineers or the CCC did in Franklin during the Depression.

I write:
I am about 85% sure this is ceremonial - primarily because of one photo (last picture of the 2nd group of 18 photos)of a boulder on a nest of smaller rocks, not connected to a wall. Otherwise it is hardto say - a lot of boulders pulled from one place and put on top of[older?] walls made from smaller rocks. Not too much debris buildup suggests recent times but, again, that is variable.
Also, if it is a ceremonial complex, there are other types of features I would expect to see; and I do not. Where are the piles, wedged rocks, pieces of quartz, etc? It is not that those things must be there but their absence raises the level of uncertainty.

Chris replies:
Thanks for the reply. Norman e-mailed me and said that Larry Harrop was there in November and felt the rocks had been moved around with bulldozers. As he was leaving a local told him the walls had been built by the CCC in the 1930s to manage wetlands. This is a possibility. However, nearby there are some big concrete structures (cisterns) and modern berms and walls that I do believe were built during the 1930s according to other local residents. And close to that there is another site with piles and rows of boulders that were definitely made with bulldozers, although this appeared more recent, to me. When I was first looking for this site with the map from Derek, I looked in this area first and for a time I believed that the "Indian Fort" had been destroyed. There are also a couple places where these big rows of boulders taper off and become regular stone walls. I am going to e-mail Larry with the link to the photos to see if he was looking at the same structures. The tantalizing thing is that Mavor and Dix alluded to historical records that called this an Indian Fort. I have searched but have been unable to identify any such references. There are some piles at the site but none of the small well-built piles you usually find. I didn't see any split or wedged rocks but it is possible that these features are there but escaped my noticed. There is some quartz but not a lot. For me the number of instances where large boulders are balanced on small stones is remarkable and this appears to me to be deliberate. The apparent prehistoric nature of what was found in the archaeological survey interests me as well. The survey was conducted near the biggest boulders in the complex, right at the edge of the swamp. Please feel free to post the text and links on your blog. I'm not making any claims as to the age or origin of this site but I do think it is interesting and deserves attention, at least until further research clears up the question of whether these walls were in fact built by the CCC or not. If you are ever down this way I think this place is worth a look.

Update: so the sense is there is modern material here. Perhaps it is sitting over some older ceremonial material and perhaps the archeologists are finding even more ancient material there under the soil.

Similar structures in old photos - NY

by theseventhgeneration

The recent post at Ceremonial Landscapes had me looking back at photos of rocks on their haunches. But then I noticed a similarity in rock piles with niches at the base and found two that are strikingly similar.

This first photo is a recent find, and I posted about it here. Note the boulder on boulder, with the top boulder turned to create a space under it where the niche is located. Also, the rock pile on top is off to one side, in other words, there is not a rock pile covering the entire top of the boulder.
The second photo is a rock pile from a site I previously posted here. These are smaller boulders. They are also turned so that a niche is created below the top boulder. In this case, the upright rock in front of the niche does not completely enclose it, but it still gives the sense of recognition of the space. I hadn't posted this photo before because the lens had a little blur, but it gives a decent view of the rock pile only on one side of the top boulder, similar to the first photo, although much smaller.I'm calling the top boulder "turned", but I'm not sure if that's natural or man-made. At any rate, the similarity overall in these structures enhances the notion that something more than "field clearing" is going on here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Realtors show rock piles in there promo

Nice find at TwoHeadwaters. [Click Here]. Only $140K for five acres?

"Of Pipelines and rock pile excavations"

Here is a sad story from the Society for Georgia Archaeology. [Click here]. I say "sad" because the piles are equidistant from each other and the rock in the background of the picture. That is an unexplained structure. How did they miss it? Also, there is a bit of: if you don't understand something, make up a quick answer and dismiss it.

Alabama Digs

This blog, a local archeology blog, mentions a stone pile (scroll down a ways). They don't say much about it but it should look familiar to readers of this blog. There's a video!
Update: maybe I should just say it looks familiar; and I wonder what they mean by "cut stone". Aah! It is Civil War related.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Gentle light on the snow

Hard Time...Starvation Times

A rock pile in a wall corner.Little enough to show for a drive out to Stirling.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Concord Water Tower

Not (very) rock pile related: Went out walking in the snow in Concord west of Fairhaven Bay (off of Lawrence Dr.) and saw little. This water tower caught my eye:Woods in there have that harshly-used-in-the-nineteenth-century look.

Today it is cold out, but I am going back out in the snow. Maybe I'll get lucky.