Monday, November 22, 2010

A tributary of Sewall Brook - Boylston MA

Not too far from the crossing of Rt 290 and Rt 140, there is a patch of woods that I had not explored. This is a bit far from home but it is within the broad swath of land southeast of Mt Wachusett, and I am still hoping to understand which variations of the "Wachusett Tradition" occur where, whether low and near water or high on the hills. So I found a place to park and walked in along the traces of a dirt road (the northern end of the dashed line on the map fragment).

First I came across a curious stone pile next to the brook (see the small blue outline near top of the fragment):It seemed like a pile, knocked off a support boulder, but the gap between boulder and part of the pile shows deliberate structure:I did not know what to make of this and noticed that the adjacent brook contained some pieces of retaining wall. So I thought perhaps this was part of an old mill site. But a few steps away was what seems like a typical donation-style pile:I remain confused about that first structure.

After that I headed off to the west of the road, up onto the ridges. Most of the area is trashed out from quarrying. But you can see the ceremonial in things like this:There are two wedges. Have a closer look, here:and here:After that I did not see anything too noticeable. Perhaps some propped boulders:And then I swung back around to the east. I came up over a low ridge to a slope down to the brook (a tributary of Sewall Brook) and saw a rock pile:It was one of perhaps 8 piles facing out towards the opening over the marsh. At least one of them has a reasonably clear shaped outline - more or less rectangular.These are very damaged and almost erased from visibility:One particularly nice remnant of a pile had a prominent single piece of quartz:
Closer:These piles marched off down into the wetter area, giving a faint impression of alignment and spacing - enough to make me think these are marker piles and not graves. Also, the topography included a rock outcrop, with a gradual slope down to a marsh. The outcrop is to the right rear here:This topography fits the overall pattern of high point for viewing the piles in the direction of an opening to the sky, to the north, over the water. It reminded me a great deal of this site by Rt 495. Also a bit like this site from Westford. What these sites have in common is
  • a gradual slope between a rock outcrop and a wetland
  • view to the north over a marsh
  • badly damaged rectangular ground piles about, eight to ten feet across.
  • very occasional use of quartz
To be honest this is exactly the kind of site I might have hoped to find in this "swath" of land to the southeast of Mt Wachusett. Because rectangular marker piles seem to be part of a transition away from burial mounds with hollows, towards the more conventional marker pile sites with triangular piles. The rectangular examples are sometimes ski-jump/wedge shaped but usually the examples are badly beaten down. In general these types of piles are almost always badly beaten down. This suggests that they are early in the chronology.

I should mention a different aspect to this site. There was something like a rock pile underfoot that was extended enough in a line to almost qualify as an old stone wall. It went on for 20 feet but was not particularly photogenic. This linear feature, badly beaten down, near the water's edge, reminded me of similar features in a couple of places: here and here
and here (and also Grassy Pond Acton - cannot find the photos).

In retrospect, since I found things at the north and south ends of this marsh, I probably should have circumnavigated it to see about other things along the marsh's edge.

No comments :