Thursday, May 27, 2010

Church Rock, Westminster MA - round and oval mounds, part 1

Decided to go on a slightly longer drive into an area I haven't explored yet, a wee bit west of Mt. Wachusett in Westminster, MA. Angling out from the mountain in a solstice-y sort of direction (in this case northwest) the topo map shows some wonderful little swamps, hills, and lakes in what I have come to think of as ideal rock pile hunting topography. Sure enough there were rock piles everywhere I looked. But I never even got to the place I was aiming for, west of the water below "C" on the map. I also picked this area because the name "Church Rock" was a bit intriguing. I tried looking this up on Google but haven't found anything about the place or how it got named.

A quick overview of the exploration: I planned to park on Bolton Rd at the edge of the "State Reservation" and sneak back across West Princeton Rd onto what looked like private property. But there were some rock piles near the road already at "A", including small boulder supported piles around an old house foundation with at least one biggish mound. And a few feet further south on the other side of the road: a circular domed mound. So then we parked and walked in as planned (it was not posted "No Tresspassing") and, a few feet in, we came to a funny wall configuration with another circular domed mound. What with one thing and another, I figure these round domed piles to be a different manifestation from the rectangular mounds with hollows I have been finding and describing all this spring. After that we headed downhill, westward, to the water and started to try to go around the north side. But all the blown down trees from an ice storm a couple winters ago make walking in the woods almost impossible in some places. Luckily there was a series of dirt-bike/ATV trails all through there and they brought us part of the way. With the downed trees and my wife along it was just too difficult getting through the downed trees. I was about to turn back when I spotted two other rock piles at "C". Who knows what else is in there? I forgot about trying to get to Church Rock and forgot about trying to get around the lake, and we headed back out. I was well satisfied with the day.

Here is the house foundation just next to West Princeton road at "A":There were twenty or so low piles, mostly covered with downed trees. Already hard going even only a few yards from the car. Is it worth looking at more of them? They seemed to get bigger the further from the road.Some had quartz:Closer:Here is the scene:There is no way I am going to accept someone telling me field clearing produced lots of small piles like this (a detail of the nearer pile in the above):
Or this:
Or this:So I am going to tell you, there was a bigger mound in there
and I spent a moment wondering about if it was from field clearing. Divided into two pieces, perhaps someone built a road through it? Huh? From field clearing but surrounded by these little piles? No way. But also "no way" the people living where the house foundation above would not have been intimate with these rock piles. That is where the context of Indians living in post colonial settings is so important. Maybe they were pretending to be "Scotts-Irish". Do I have to keep talking about this?

The fact that there are rock piles everywhere (out here in Westminster and more generally in Eastern MA) is really at odds with most peoples experience or lack of experience with this topic. It is stunning that these things are so common and, so invisible. It is as if you mention seeing crows everywhere to someone who says: "what is a crow" and denies ever seeing one. [Actually that is a reasonable analogy because most people are oblivious to common birds. Digressing completely: ornithology is not so different from rock pile hunting. It is mostly typology and amateurs. Except we do not have experts to dissect rock piles or study their genetics. Also bird watching has a large group of enthusiasts, publications, the Audubon Society, etc.]

That was location "A". Too bad there was no good place to park, I should have kept going downhill rather than just scratching the surface.

1 comment :

pwax said...

South of the Bolton Rd entrance, there is another mound visible from the road on the west side, like at A.