Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Mixing of Ceremonial Features with Agricultural Ones at Patch Hilll - Boxborough MA

I think one of the responsibilities we have in the rock pile community is providing a context for the frequently observed mixing of ceremonial stone structures with more mundane and perhaps more modern stone structures. The mixing is evident at Patch Hill in Boxborough where you see:
  • Relationships between piles and wall
  • Enclosed remaindered land sections with rock pile grid
  • Piles built as bulges and corners in the stone walls
For example with the wall:
There is a wall with an added on "crib" filled with smaller rocks which we think of as a colonial field clearing practice. This "crib" is substantial and limited to the part of the wall that goes over a slight bump:Immediately behind it is a rectangular "pavement" with quartz symmetrically placed.
The quartz is in the middle of a straight side of the pavement, facing the "crib".
FFC poked around a bit further back and found a second "pavement".
This one was more pentagonal. It also had quartz.Thank god for the sharp eyes of FFC. He spots broken glass in the pile.He spots a horeshoe.Looks like a European "Good Luck" charm. That provides a possible context for the mixing of ceremonial and agricultural.

The Patch Family were colonists who left England as religious dissenters. Might we suppose that they formed relationships with the Native Americans in an interaction that did not make it into the history books and writings of the clergymen? Or could we suppose they at least hired Indian laborers who adopted some European superstitions and played out the superstitions in some of the work they were doing? Or could we suppose that the Patch family did none of these things yet left stone structures in place that they found there; just as the bump the wall is going over might have been a mound that was left in place?

Near the corner of a different wall:

1 comment :

pwax said...

Finding post-contact things in rock piles is exactly the kind of context I hope to find mixing the Indian with the European. Today it is a horseshoe. One time it was a broken plow tip; another time a big bale of barbed wire. Glass, creamers, rusted pails, are not too unusual. I always feel that such inclusions are spontaneous, creative, and poetic.