Sunday, February 28, 2010

Interesting Boulder-Covered Graves in Maine

posted by JimP

This is just one example of nearly two dozen historical references to stone-covered graves in the Northeast Woodlands that I have found. I've found references to boulders or stone piles used over Indian graves in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut too -- as well as New York, and elsewhere.

"In this cemetery, unlike other Red Paint cemeteries, the burials were not made in sand and gravel with occasionally a boulder or stone near, but they were made for the most part in heavy coarse gravel and frequently had great boulders twenty to forty centimeters in diameter lying upon them. The hill is distinctly of glacial formation, being more nearly like Mr Willoughby's mound at Lake Alamoosook than any other burial site that we have discovered. It contains here and there spots two or three meters in diameter where the sand is finer and the gravel small. There was also a long layer of fine sand, which although it offered a simpler problem of excavation, few graves were found in it and the Indians seem for some reason to have preferred the deposit of gravel and boulders for digging their graves. Numbers of the graves extended under the boulders. Either the objects were placed under and around the large stones as they occurred, or the stones were placed on top of the graves after the bodies had been laid in the ground. This is especially evident in grave 224 dug out by Mr Taylor which contained twelve large boulders twenty or thirty centimeters in diameter. They appeared to be arranged in a rude circle. On the left (northwest) there were four on top of one another, on the right three more, and in the center five directly on the buried objects." (Moorehead 1922:90)

MOOREHEAD, Warren K. 1922. A Report on the Archaeology of Maine. Andover, MA: The Andover Press.


Norman said...

The oldest stone covered burial appears to be the one at L'Anse Amour in southern Labrador, which has been radiocarbon dated to 7500 B.P.

pwax said...

It is funny how incomprehensible these older accounts can be. How does he get a "rude circle" out of the left, right, and center?

Norman said...

I agree. A drawing or photo would certainly clear up the confusion.