Sunday, December 30, 2012

Last find in 2012

Yesterday I headed out early in the morning hoping to find one last arrowhead for 2012. I went to a place I have searched many times, a plowed farm field. My goal was to find a whole arrowhead. I was really cold and the wind was blowing through my thick coat, I decided to hit the very best areas and try to find one whole arrowhead and then go home. I was really excited to see this.
At the center of the picture you can see the base of a rhyolite arrowhead sticking out of the ground. Here is a closer look.
The part that is visible has no damage. I really like this material and would really like to have some nice arrowheads made of this stuff. I was almost afraid to pull this out of the ground, I so hoped that it would be undamaged and something great. But sadly it was not to be- the tip is gone.
I believe this shape is what is called a Fox Creek. It would have been an awesome find if not for the damage. I left this place as the snow started to fall, without finding anything else. I will be back when the snow melts. I hope everyone finds what they are looking for in 2013.

4,000 year old speartip from Mexico... newsworthy?

Click here for a nice pic.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Another look at a mound built into a boulder

I showed this the other day but with better light got a better picture. An interesting structure across from the Reservoir on Piper Rd:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Careening past the Oxbow (Rt 2 eastbound)

 The bit about "I'll never know" is wrong. It was just an outcrop.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Interesting structure

(Ringe Rd just past Ashby West)

A slow climb up to a saddle, south of Blood Hill, Ashby/Ashburham

I took a walk on Sunday that was somehow moving, although there was nothing special about the sites I found. I noticed a forest road leading in from the south (see it on the map, starting near the reservoir?) and covering lots of new territory on the southern part of the main hill . My plan was to go north up the road to the first high point, then over the hill into the valley and then up the valley. A very limited experience with explorations in this region north of the Fitchburg Reservoir, suggests that one is best served by exploring ravines, not hilltops. So I wanted to have a thorough look at the headwaters of the brooks in that valley.
Off I went with the usual complaining legs, wondering if I was just getting some exercise or whether I would see any stone structures on the way. I walked and walked, steadily uphill, until I got to the rock piles (at B). I did some tough bushwhacking but there were also a number of forest roads in there and, to my surprise, there is some kind of residual agriculture up on top of those southern hills. I guess the soil up there is decent(?). So, although it was pretty high up, well above Fitchburg and pretty much the middle of nowhere, still there were fresh tire tracks on the road and some reasonably open woods, that may have become wooded only recently. 
The mood gets set by things like this: I saw a large brown rock in the woods and it seemed to be part of a bunch of cobbles. Rock pile hunting instincts made me look more carefully and - hey- that is not a rock!  
I'll spare you a closer look. I kept expecting the deer to look up and run off. But it was dead without any sign of wound. And the rock pile? I am not sure is was man-made. The soil there was almost entirely cobbles, and this was a place of erosion at the top of the valley were a steeper ravine begins. I proceeded, but with a tinge of sadness.
If you look at the topo map you can see the valley surrounded by blue outlines of the small sites I found. Near the top of the valley you can see there is more than one brook coming down from different parts of the hill. Up near A is where I saw the large "water work" and instead of heading back there, I wanted to go up towards the other saddle, following the western fork of the brook. So I got into the land between the brooks and then continued uphill, sweeping back and forth until, as I say, I got to the rock piles at B:
I think these are pretty similar to what we saw in Billerica (see the last pictures here) having attributes of somewhat even spacing and some of the piles suggesting little niches. Under these circumstances, these days when I see such things, I always go looking for a larger mound with a hollow. I found none here.
Here is one of the nicest "niches" I saw up there:
Note the large quartz cobble in the middle. Here is another view:
Otherwise, nothing too film-worthy. The piles were old; some of them poking out of the Juniper bushes:
It has been a long time since anyone was up here, paying any attention to this.
I could see the higher slopes above and the stone walls climbing up there and felt a pull to go higher up the hill. But I was confident the action was down here in the ravine. So instead I used my energy to go over the saddle and start down the northwestern side. I am telling myself the "hint for rock pile hunters: if you find something in a ravine, find the mirror opposite position on the other side down, and look there as well"...and how I need to have the strength of my convictions. Honestly I was on my last step in that direction, having met the needs for thoroughness when I spot another rock pile downhill. I was almost disappointed because my legs were hurting:
And, poking around, this led to another small cluster of rock piles (at C) around a spring fed seep, the beginning of the next brook over there.
That was that and I started back down. I stayed on the forest road for a while and came on a parked car (?) and quickly backtracked into the woods. Here, at D, was the only larger mound I saw all day. Unfortunately covered with dead trees:
There were also a couple of small outlier piles.
After that, my main goal was to get back down to my car with as little work as possible. I stayed to the forest roads while I could but eventually cut back into the woods. Saw another little cluster there (4th site of the day, at E):
Something about those high valleys with their fields gone back to woods, with their dead deer and forgotten rock piles.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A close look at the surface of a small mound

Saw this one from my car on the left, heading north on Ringe Rd just past West Ashby Rd.
This one is built into a boulder or outcrop (view back towards the road):
Look carefully at the upper surface:
I see some structure there. Let's assume it has not been disturbed too much and look at the details. Trying to highlight them:
I see a line of rocks (in red), a U-shape (in yellow), and a cup holder (in blue). Referring back to the first picture, isn't the "cup holder" interesting? [I imagine a bit of food for the journey to the underworld].
Uphill along the near horizon:
There were extensive small piles up there along the edge.

Beech Trees and Mounds in Billerica

A week or two ago FFC called me and said he took a stroll at lunch where he is working in Billerica and found a grid of rock piles with a larger messier mound. [Sounds like a "Wachusett Tradition" site to me and I asked] "Will you show it to me". So the next available Saturday we went out in the early morning to check. 
[Digression: this site is at the lower end of Fortune Dr. where there is a bit of conservation land up against a marsh, facing south/south-east. Why is it important for me to tell you this location? If you are worried about vandals, I ask: "how can you ruin what is already a ruin?". Or if you are concerned about disturbing the spirits, I say: "No, those spirits are gone. This place has been opened up to the face of the creator." So all we can do is see that their grave is kept clean. I think FFC and I agree about this.]
This is a site with two large rectangular mounds with hollows, surrounded by a variety of smaller "marker piles" - in a grid - as well as some highlighted quartz in the rocks strewn about, and a lovely split-wedged rock. There were also some faint traces of older smaller mounds with hollows. All of these are very standardized. 
Meeting up with FFC, we walked to the bottom of the parking lot of an adjacent company, and stepped across a stone wall.
The rock piles were low and in the nth stage of smearing out. They were evenly spaced, in lines; hardly worth looking at:
I was anxious to see the larger mound. Let's have a look:
It is a large mound, with a tail that curls into the foreground on the left. The view out towards a marsh is typical of these types of piles, around here. But Billerica is the farthest east that I have seen one. We are east or Rt 3 and it is all urban after this. 
Some more pictures:
The light brown leaves are still attached to the beech trees and FFC was struck by them. Beech are not too common and suggest a mature woods. Later, I asked him to name the site and he said "Beech Trees".
We both poked around separately for a while. I took pictures of a fine split-wedged rock:
FFC went down the edge of the marsh a bit and found a second large mound:
I find these to be gorgeous. Maybe cuz I hunt for them so often; and these are great examples of rectangular mounds with hollows. Here is a hollow on the upper surface of this second mound:
Here is a view back towards the corporate building:
Just look at this beautiful place!
Nothing particularly intelligent to say about this, just that it is a wonderful site about 10 minutes from the Burlington Mall and a great research opportunity for students in this area.
As we leave the site, let's take a closer look at some of the ground piles.
Are they triangular? rectangular? Do they have little hollows of their own?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Checking some other places on Blood Hill

Went back with great expectations but saw very few things. In the gully that descends in the opposite direction from the saddle described here, I saw one interesting feature: a small circle of rocks with a larger "head". 
It might be worth brushing off the leaves from some of the rocks outside the circle.

On what seemed to be a northwest facing buttress of the hill there was a lone pile with spaces in it and see-through holes:
Lastly, a small something next to the trail (the one joining main and south-east summits):
So now, enough of Blood Hill. There is still much to explore in that part of Ashby/Ashburnham and I hope I'll take advantage of continued good weather, easy walking, and a Christmas vacation to explore there soon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

FFC shows PWAX a mound in Billerica

FFC says there are a lot of holes in it and asks: what's that all about?