Monday, December 05, 2011

Taking Mental Snapshots - Parker Hill Revisited

First described here.

Went back to do some more exploring around Parker Hill in West Fitchburg. I was well on the way in my car before realizing I'd forgotten my camera. Usually I figure hunting without your "gun" makes no sense but, this time, I was not expecting to see too much anyway and I could always come back again with a camera, if anything really great showed up.

I followed the power lines in from Westminster Hill Rd and went over a knoll and looked across a dip to the next slope and I could see two large smeared out rock piles on the next slope, under the power lines. Going over to take a look, I saw one more large smeared pile to my left in the woods. There was also at least one more large pile under the power lines, so low and covered with weeds that I had to step on it to know it was there. This site is in a gully that corresponds to the lowest blue outline on the above map fragment. I took a first mental snapshot of the scene looking across the gully at the smeared piles under the power lines. I guess I took another snapshot of the pile in the weeds, seeing rocks down under the raspberry stems.

My plan was to follow the gully north, staying to the left until I could get onto what looked like a sort of plateau and, perhaps, to go even further north to the a brook confluence that invites an in-person examination. The walk over to the plateau was uninteresting but when I got over to there, at a place where 4 paths meet (to the north of the gravel pits) I saw what seemed to be a solitary large smeared pile on a little knoll. Believe it or not these large smeared piles are exactly what I was hoping to find - remnants of my "Wachusett Tradition" burial mounds. I believe that there are actually five or more of these mounds over in that area, approximately where the upper blue outline is, on the map fragment. I took another mental snapshot of this smeared pile on a knoll, and I guess there are some additional ones in a moment.

What I found on this walk is of no particular interest, except to me in my fanatic pursuit of traces of the Wachusett Tradition. This type of rock pile site is, pretty much, all you can find north of Fitchburg. I just wanted to extend my knowledge of that area around Parker Hill - a pretty big piece of woods. But the rock piles I found over there, in the area of the upper blue outline, were so far gone that I think I would have a hard time convincing even a rock pile enthusiast that there was anything there at all. I have another couple mental snapshots. One is of a 30 foot long rectangular scoop taken out of a sandbank, with an arrangement of rocks following the back wall and sides. Another is of a 5x5 rectangular hole along with the thought "no this was not the remnants of a small sweat lodge, but a hole outlined by rocks...all that is left of a mound with hollow". Just as a rock pile enthusiast would have trouble showing a rock pile to someone who had never seen one and knew nothing about this subject; so, in the same way, I would have trouble explaining these remnants, even to a rock pile enthusiast. The piles were so far gone, I had trouble making them out. But they were there.

I truly wonder if anyone will ever get back over there, will clean up the piles a bit to make them more visible, or even excavate them a bit - after all if they are not there then what would be the harm in digging?

Update: I mean, it is too bad we cannot get a team of students out from Fitchburg State really looking into these sites in a way that, at least, cleaned up the site.

Update II: The lowest left blue outline on the map is deprecated.


Tim MacSweeney said...

I was hoping for some views of the stone rows by the rock piles you mentioned in the first post. I looked for the bird's eye view of the place at BingMaps: and did find some that show. It's always been my style to follow the stone rows, sort of an "off the path" method where the real interesting things show up...

Tim MacSweeney said...

Powerlines at W-Hill Road: (The details don't show until you zoom in).

pwax said...

I went to that link and there is something wrong with Bing because when I start at Westminster Hill Rd and zoom in, I end up over on Bean Porrige Hill Rd - several miles to the west. Anyway, the first gray patch on the aeriel, under the power lines and going up from (Westminster Hill) Rd looks like it might be the rock pile smear.