Thursday, March 31, 2011

A "village" of small rectangular piles with hollows

In this area of northeastern Groton there seem to be rock pile sites of different ages including a strong component of the tradition of rock piles with hollows. Looking at the map there is an obvious adjacent area to be explored.

Last weekend, I went back to take a look at what appeared to be crescent shaped piles that I found just after snow started to accumulate (see here). I missed them at first but instead found maybe ten or more piles like this:From another angle:You can see it is a small rectangle with an empty hollow area in the center. Here is different one:
Other piles appeared like ridges:I guess this is the same thing but damaged differently. Was this a crescent?

Another variation was piles with fewer, larger rocks, and larger mounds:Here is another small one with a hollow, the same larger mound in the background.As you can see from the topo map, this site is in a valley. The site is along the edge of a wet area.
Let's take a closer look at the large mound. Its level surface is particularly incompatible with a practical rock dumping explanation for the pile. This pile sits at a sort of nexus of the stone walls there. Also, in the vicinity, a pretty nice "cairn"a pretty nice flat-faced pile on a boulder:a pretty nice gap pile:Still other small rectangular piles, badly beaten down, with a hint of a hollow.Compare to this next:I think the remnants of structure are still visible but these must be of a different age from the still fresh "pretty nice" piles above.

As I walked back out, I finally came back to the crescents I photo'd in January. Now I think they were just snow covered examples of these small rectangular piles with hollows. The main "spine" of the pile somehow persists, giving them a curved, tailed, or slight crescent shape.

Update: The apparent difference in ages of piles with hollows versus the "pretty nice" piles is an example of rock pile half-life: the idea that older piles will be more damaged. That leads to the possibility of a chronology, if not a calibrated age for different styles of rock pile. In this case it simply restates the obvious, that the ones with hollows are older. But the existence of this site, with the combination, allows for comparison of the styles.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Small outcrop site

More from northeastern Groton. Some of the outcrops and ridges north of Rocky Hill Rd have a few rock piles. My eyes were drawn to this minor trace:Nearby:A pretty nice pile. Here is another view:Other small subtle features on the same outcrop assure me this is a site:Here is another outcrop. A small rock pile on the right.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gap Pile

This is from northeastern Groton, MA
The pattern of a rock pile built across from and in conjunction with another rock has become familiar.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Broken Axe Head at Gates Pond site (A)

Went back to site (A) (see here) to show it to FFC - who always has his own way of looking at things. Taking a closer look at some of the split wedged rocks, in the midst of them was a broken axe head resting on top of a small boulder:FFC thought this was being used to split rocks. Anyone recognize the style? I want to say this would give a date for when the site was in use. Here is the scene, broken axe head in the foreground:And a closeup of one of the wedged rocks:
The last time I saw something like this axe head was on another walk with FFC where he spotted a broken plow blade in a rock pile (see here). I makes me speculate about use of broken tools in rock piles. Searching around this blog, it appears that usually when I spot things in piles, FFC spots them first. Here he found a horseshoe in a pile. In my own defense, I did see the axe head first this time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mound with Hollow and knoll with smeared ground piles - site B at Sawyer Hill/Gates Pond

With reference to the map here.

The day after finding the site with the interesting geology (see here) I went back to take a closer look at parts of the conservation land back there at the end of Taylor Rd - at the "Gates Pond Reservoir". I walked counter clockwise around the Pond until I saw a split wedged rock on the right and then a rock pile on the left. This is up near the northwestern corner here:I hoped to find something nice like a rock pile with a hollow, and this looked like a good candidate:But before I even got over there, the adjacent knoll had one smeared pile after another.In the end, I think these smeared out piles are marker piles.

Looking back from the knoll towards the first pile:

When I went to look at it, it did have a hollow. Not that surprising because Berlin MA is on a corridor extending south from Wachusett through Clinton and this town then down into Hopkinton, of "mounds with hollow" that does not so densely manifested north of Berlin on 495. But this is a small such mound and it is hard to disassociate it from the smeared piles on the adjacent knoll - or for that matter the split-wedged rock with the letterbox in it from the other side of the road.
This pile has a neighbor of some sort closer to the water. You can see it in the background a couple pictures back, here it is directly:
Not only are these mound small, they are built on boulders. It is worth noticing this mound sub-type occurring in combination with marker piles.

Stepping into the woods

When I stepped off of Taylor Rd at Sawyer Hill for the first time, the first rock in the woods was thisI think it is a prayer seat. It was encouraging to also see this:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Monsters, Gods, or Rocks of Power? (site A at Sawyer Hill/Gates Pond)

With reference to the map here.

I stepped into a place of weirdness and only realized later, after dreaming about it and after looking at the pictures. Now I need to go look again, and look more carefully at things I barely noticed the first time.

The northeastern-most hill in a series of hills called "Sawyer Hill" in Berlin, MA has unusual geology. Primarily a brown methamorphic schist that breaks apart in flat plates, mixed with large sections of white feldspar - what I compare to quartz because of its similar ceremonial uses. The brown schist is characteristic of all the hills west of Rt 495, from Oak Hill in Littleton down to here, 10 or so miles south at the Rt 62 exit in Berlin. But I think these large chunks of feldspar must be a bit unusual.

A substantial stone wall crosses the hill in a north-south'ish direction and what I found was a lower, thinner stone wall that branched off from the main wall at a group of large boulders, heading downhill and west. After ~50 yards this lower wall turned south and then back east but never got back to the main wall. In the process it enclosed an area of an acre or so with a few choice rock piles built on rocks. At each corner, the wall had a little branch that was almost invisibile and extended 10 or so yards outward from the enclosure. There was also a tumbled down smear of a pile in one corner and several other features of interest at the ends of these side branches. The feldspar was used strategically in several places.
When I got home and looked at the pictures, I became more aware of what looked like an old pathway passing by a side wall, up around and into the enclosure. Also I became more aware of the portholes that were built into the wall in various places. On an adjacent knoll were a few other piles with at least one placed conspicuously next to a strange piece of bedrock. Now I need to go back and look for other signs of this pathway. Also take better note of the site layout. But here is an approximation:As I look at the photos, I also see single smaller rocks on the ground that might also be significant. The stone walls were certainly part of the site, and included portholes like from the other day [click here, last picture].

Taking it chronologically, I stepped into the woods off Taylor Rd and immediately saw a prayer seat. I was also encouraged to see a fine vertically split rock with wedges. Continuing into the woods and skirting the hill I saw a shadow on a rock, and went to find that it was a kind of rock pile or bit of wall along an outcrop. Above it a small pile and an adjacent low stone wall runnng downhill.
Another look, to the left in the above photo, suggests a pathway coming up along the outcrop:Uphill, a boulder and another rock pile. I was looking at the first rock pile and noticed it had a white rock in it on the side facing the wall. There was a corresponding white rock in the stone wall across from it.Never saw that before. Passing the wall, then a rock-on-rock, I came to a second wall running downhill. This was a beauty and it seemed like a short stretch of wall but it did not quite disappear before joining another low wall coming in from the side. In the space encllosed by these walls, a couple more rock piles and The second pile had a white feldspar rock You can see the lower wall behind them. Is that a bit of pathway along the side of the pile and through the gap in the wall? Here is part of the lower wallLooking one way along the it, I find a tumble of rocks some ruin.Looking the other way, there is a spur composed of propped, slanted rocks leading off from the enclosure (we are looking back towards the enclosure from near the end of the spur) Another view and a pile near the termination of the spur Is that a manitou rock? Also near the end of the spur was a stunning rock-on-rock: Take a closer look: white feldspar support and a quartz striped rock on top. This could be more recent, it seems delicate. We are now outside of the "enclosure" with other rock piles (not shown in the sketch above) and other families of propped-slanted rocks. I climbed back up to the hill to the main wall which had portholes and seemed intimate with the large brown rocks near the hilltop I walked back downhill and over to a separate knoll to the southwest. Isolated on the knoll, there is a rock pile next to a shaped outcrop. The rock pile might have a niche in it It also has a hint of white. Coming back I took another picture of the quartz striped rock-on-rock and saw that there as a small third white rock on the ground, part of the structure.This is not a familiar kind of site. The use of white rocks is taking advantage of unusual geology. The focus on boulders and outcrops, and the unusual collections of propped-slanted rocks, connected via walls and spurs are all unfamiliar - or at least I never noticed them before. And the hint of a path and the apparent random scattering of pile locations suggests something different than the common themes of astronomy and death. At this site, it is more as if you are visiting the rocks.

Back at the main wall, on the way out...