Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More Piles with Tails: Wright Ponds - Ashby MA

Over time, I am going to explore more, north of Fitchburg - a place with lots of woods. Wright Ponds, a pair of ponds linked by a short brook flowing from the south to the north, seemed like a reasonable place to look for rock piles with "tails", so I drove there this weekend. I was going to explore along the edges of the lake but gunfire from the associated "Rod and Gun" club dissuaded me and, instead, I walked along the road and spotted something rock pile like in the little wetland next to the brook connecting the two ponds, located as shown by the red outline above.
A long, messy rock pile. If I had not known what to look for, the backside would have looked like more mess but, magically, it resolved into a rectangular pile (in the center of the photo) with a narrow neck connecting it to another bit of rock pile on the right.After some more examining, I conclude that there are really two "tails": one to the right, and another to the left. Something like this:Here is a view from the the left (of the previous picture):Look at those big slabs in the foreground and recall that idea of a "hollow" on the opposite end from a tail. I think this fits that pattern and those slabs are the sides of a "crypt" or "chamber" in the pile. You know I think these were burials but the jury is definitely still out on that. Here is another view of the main rectangle:
We are looking towards the "tail" and there are a couple of pieces of quartz in the pile. For example:Also here is a view from the far end, showing a small outlier pile a few feet to the right:
After this, I looked around to see what else was nearby. I could see something rock pile-like to either side and went to look in one direction. Here is the next pile I saw, a little smaller than the first:And here is a little context. We are looking more or less north towards the upper pond.
As I am looking at it, I realize, this also is a pile with a "tail". Here is a sketch of the overhead view:
It is wonderful that a little understanding allows one to make sense of these broken down ruins - not to mention knowing where to look for them. Another view of this pile:
Then I explored more to the other side of the first pile, seeing a couple of piles in the newly forming brook:
Then an example of what I would call a "gap" pile; or perhaps here just structures to either side of a faint trail:
Finally, another look at the second pile with a bit of stone wall to the right:Studying the stone wall, there was a bit of a spur leading over to the pile. Overall the site was like this (not to scale):This sketch shows the main features of the site, with "Pile 1" , "Pile 2", and their relation to the wall and brook. Also the other smaller piles. It is worth comparing this to the site sketch from the Carlisle wetland of a few weeks ago [click here] where, as here, the piles were along a line in the form of a very messy wall.

Looking more at the topo map fragment [at the top of this post], I see I should have explored along the edges of the hill to the west of the upper pond. Since I was pursuing a theory about southern and eastern edges of ponds, it did not occur to me - shows you the downside of having theories. Also: from the map, you can see there are some more woods and wetland edges to explore around there. I'll have to go back.

Update: from the Indian Place Names of Worcester County:
Neesepesesuck - Name of two small ponds in the southern central part of Ashby, now called Wright's ponds. This name, with very little doubt, is a corruption of Neeie-pavg-Kuek = ' two pond brook,' the ponds taking the name from the brook which is now called Pearl brook.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Those ponds are both man-made, so they weren't there when the Indians were inhabiting Ashby. Only a spring and a brook were originally there.