Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Grids as far as the eye can see

There were about 6 separate clusters, with scenes like the following. More details to follow.Larry?

Cairns along the Walpack Ridge Trail

Reader Bob Peal sent new pictures. He writes:

I haven't been on your blog in years, maybe because I haven't seen any rock piles. I was on a hike the other day on the Walpack Ridge Trail that runs from Walpack Center to Thunder Mt. in the Walpack area of the Delaware Watergap NRA. Just thought you would might want to see them. I was on the trail from Walpack Center, the trail is the Walpack Ridge Trail marked with a red blaze. I was more then half way through I think when I looked through the woods near a stream and saw these few piles. Not sure if someone was just clearing the area.

Some years ago I contacted you with some cairns up along the Delaware on the Pa. side and one of your members went up and checked them out. (see here)

Good Shepherd Church - Acton MA

Have seen a rock pile behind this church when driving past on Newtown Rd. Decided to get out and take a picture. Actually a small site with four piles.
Both piles in the picture have a flat side. These sides are parallel but not at the same angle as the line drawn between the two piles. Something like this:Here is a closeup of the rear pile:The flat surface is quite clearly deliberate.

Here is one of the less visible piles:This view of the four shows the pile spacing, which is somewhat regular.What I call a "marker pile" site. For better or worse this is the most common type of site found around here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wandering lost in the woods of Sterling

With all the best intentions, map in hand, sun over head, I still managed to head in a direction slightly different than the one I had planned with the result that nothing on the ground matched what I thought it should match on the map - so I was basically lost from shortly after starting my walk. As I have mentioned, the woods "out west" are quite hard to get through because of all the broken trees. So I exercised for a couple hours and managed to circle back to my car. I saw some nice flowers and an occasional stone feature. Here is a big split rock:What do you do? You go see if there is anything in the crack:When walking "deep" in the woods (this was probably all open land a few years ago) I often think about how the majority of sites are found nearer to the road or near to an old road but, in any case, rarely in the middle of nowhere. I might get this bias by only exploring near roads, (I don't doubt there is some of that) but I do get off the road and go deeper occasionally and would expect to occasionally find things there. But I do not. I believe most sites are near road or old roads. What do you think? So out in the middle of nowhere I did find an isolated ground pile that did not look to be random discarded rock. Just a humble little thing hardly worth mentioning:Since it won't be seen again and since it could be someone's last resting place, let's take a moment longer here:
Just before I clawed my way out of the bushes, giving up on seeing much and being rewarded for the scramble, I did come across a pair of rock piles, by themselves at the bottom of a slope, looking out over the wetland:
I am getting used to seeing this combination and believe the two piles are actually part of a single structure whose purpose includes the gap between the piles. It opens towards the water.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Whorled Lucestrife

Another unfamiliar flower from Sterling. Using the Field Guide to the Wildflowers for identification.

Purple Fringed Orchis - Sterling, MA

A member of the Orchid family:Found them growing in a wetland:See the leaves:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Re-posting old photos.

Remember this one? (clicking recommended.)How about this one:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Other sights in Upton State Forest

Indian Pipes: A "conventional" well:A major gap pile: Another view: I told my wife she should walk through the gap. I like to pretend I know that this is a good for you. I once told a sick friend he had to go through the gap. When I got around on the other side of the pile, I recognized it and realized I had come back into an area I visited before. A place with some neat piles:

Odds and Ends - Upton State Forest

There is a place on Spring Street where a path leads into Upton State Forest to the east of the road. Starting in there, something like a "gap" pile appears immediately on your left:By a "gap" pile, I mean a pile on a rock, separated by a few feet from another rock, giving the impression of a single structure, with the gap between the rocks playing a role in the structure's function. In this case, the rock on the left has piled on smaller rocks, and across the gap, the other rock has a thick vein of quartz:Further in along the path is a boulder with a short stretch of stone wall. I think we went down and then back up and I left the path following the ridge to the right - where I came across some hints of ceremonialism and, in particular, a somewhat rare thing: a rock-on-rock made of quartz: This was at the edge of ridge looking out over a steep drop-off. I remember (but might not be able to locate a picture of it) another example of a quartz rock-on-rock from exactly the same context - looking out over a steep drop-off. Here is a detail of the quartz:I haven't mentioned it recently for newer readers but the belief is that quartz is an amplifier for "spiritual energy", lacking any particular characteristics of its own. Found occasionally in this context as a rock-on-rock at the edge of an outlook, the interpretation would be that this helps whatever "energy" is passing outward or back inward from that look out.

Returning to the entrance, the obligatory split-wedged rock:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fireman Memorial - Rt 20 Northborough

[Not rock pile related]. Coming back from a disappointing walk, I was speculating about climbing Tomblin Hill in Northborough, driving just north of Rt9 on Rt20, when I saw this statue west of the road, at the foot of the hill. It seemed sort of poignant and worth recording. It is poorly made and will not last too long:

Where are the rock piles on Boston Hill?

A reader once wrote that Boston Hill in Westborough had rock piles. It is a bit of a drive from here, almost in Shrewsbury, but it is a huge hill, overgrown and hard to explore, and I did not find rock piles. I was not sure where to go and gave up after a while. There was some obvious ceremonialism: Also some possible ceremonialism: But where were the rock piles? I have forgotten who told me about Boston Hill, so if anyone knows the answer, I'll try again - even if it is a bit of a drive.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

[Box] Turtle Cairn - from Larry Harrop

Nipsachuck in the News

Larry Harrop sent this, from the Valley Breeze and Observer [click to magnify]

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Larry Harrop's "dimpled" piles

I would call these hollows, but have not seen them on piles of this size and shape.

More rock piles with niches

Norman Muller writes:

The photos you took [see here] of stone features at your school reunion, particularly the one of the hollow cairn, reminded me of a cairn I photographed in Washington, MA, four years ago, which had a niche at its base.

I also found another in Montville, CT, but this cairn was built against a boulder.

[PWAX: That last one reminds me of the "Hopkinton Beehive", discussed here.]

Also perhaps relvant here

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rock Pile "altar" - Barlow School, Amenia NY

Went to my high school reunion in Amenia NY, poked my head into the woods there, and saw an isolated rock pile within a second. But then driving around the back roads amongst the dairy farms and little patches of woods, I did not see anything more. Heavy foliage blocks the view to a very dark forest under-story and most woods there are posted "No Tresspassing". So the first place I looked was also the only place I saw anything. For reference, this used to be the Viewpoint School, then it was the Barlow School, and now it is the Kildonan School. In any case, there is a wooded and very steep slope behind the main schoolhouse where I saw a pile. Many of the photos are blurry because of the lack of light under the trees and I try to avoid using the flash. Anyway...

First glimpse:Later on I noticed that there was a little pile of quartz next to the pile, in the foreground here:
As I walked up to the pile I noticed light coming through the base, suggesting the pile was hollow. It was:I never saw rocks so glued together with age. The native bedrock around here is a loose, iron filled, phyllite. Here is another view:I never saw that before and considered if it was something non-standard and perhaps not ceremonial. But there was that quartz and, about 20 feet away at the same level on the slope was a short low stretch of stone wall.Another look at the pile (I managed to hold the camera steady):
Final thoughts were along these lines: Could this be practical? It is a steep slope, so it would be practical to put it somewhere easier to get to. Did it have a function like a beehive? (no, wrong place), like an oven? (no, wrong place), like an altar? (maybe). Is the pile isolated? (no, in fact there is that small pile of quartz and the nearby low wall). In the end, this is more ceremonial than otherwise. I consider it unlikely that any of the students would know how to make such a careful rock pile.

Finnish Seitas

Sort of rock pile related - about peculiarly shaped stones and propped boulders in Finland. [Click here]

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rock Pile damage

We have been looking at damaged rock piles (see here) and the question came up about whether the damage is from a blown down tree or from an act of vandalism (or is there another possibility?). Norman Muller sends the following pictures with comments:

Ted’s most recent posting about similar damage to oval stone piles, reminded me of a large platform cairn in Brooklyn, CT, that I saw a number of years ago. It is one of the largest platform cairns I’ve ever encountered. Only one end is well preserved,the other sides are notI don’t think that blowdowns can account for the damage, since the pile is so huge (about 45’ long and 7’ high) and well constructed, at least on the preserved end. Nor does vandalism seem a good explanation. I could be that stones from the pile were used to construct walls and foundations – certainly a logical source. [I would call that "vandalism" - PWAX] And once stones began to be removed, the structural integrity of the mound was compromised and it began to collapse of its own accord.

Norman continues in another email:

There is a long stone mound in Rochester, VT, with a Manitou or standing stone in front Recently a large tree fell on one end of the mound, toppling the standing stone

This stone mound was in a dilapidated condition before the tree fell on it, and because it is stone’s throw from some old colonial foundations, I concluded that the farmers took stones from the mound to build foundations for a barn and house. To see what little effect a large tree will have on a well built stone mound, here is an example from S. Newfane, VT

The next picture shows the mound without the tree: no damage done!

I would add this example: the large platform at Miller's Hill in Holliston, MA (see here):
I felt, when looking at it, that rocks must have been pulled from the bottom of the retaining wall and, as Norman said, the pile would collapse sooner or later after that.

Another small example here.