Sunday, March 30, 2014

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Nolumbeka Project President Joe Graveline to speak a week from tomorrow, April 5

Nolumbeka Project's President Joe Graveline will be speaking on "Franklin County's First Peoples: History, Heritage, & Current Events" on Saturday, April 5, 2014, 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Doors open at 9:30, First Congregational Church, 43 Silver Street, Greenfield MA 01301, sponsored by the Mass Slavery Apology .

"If we deny a people's history, we deny that people's existence. If the voices of our ancestors are silenced, our history is silenced."

The first peoples of our area left a 12,000-year legacy of living, loving, laughing, and dying. That legacy has been - and is still being - wiped out and denied, actively and passively. We will examine how inequities in cultural preservation have created social and economic
injustice here in the valley and beyond. Of Cherokee and Abenaki decent, presenter Joe Graveline has been working on Native American/Indian issues for over twenty years.

President and Co-founder of the Nolumbeka Project, Joe specializes in bringing to light the unrepresented Indian side of New England history. He is active on environmental and social issues on a local, regional and national level. Learn more at

- FREE -Light snacks provided. Childcare available by RSVP ~ Let us know number & ages of children in advance.Donations Welcome BRING your courage, your inquiring mind, & your compassion.For more information or to reserve childcare: or 413-625-2951 FREE PARKING behind church.Wheelchair accessible. Please, no fragranced products. MANY THANKS to the FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF GREENFIELD This program is supported in part by grants from the Ashfield, Bernardston, Buckland, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Montague, New Salem, Orange, and Shelburne Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Hopkinton RI, Lawton Foster Road North Cairn Site Threatened by Subdivision

Reader Steve writes:

Hopkinton, R.I. is on the verge, if this subdivision passes the planning board on Wednesday night, of having one of the best cairn fields off of Lawton Foster Road North destroyed for good. I will enclose several pictures of this area, but unless you have seen it yourself or walked through this area, one cannot really appreciate what is here. James Gage thought I should contact you to have all of this information put on your blog. Doug Harris, myself and others are going to be in attendance for this pivotal meeting to decide the fate of this immense cairn field with cairns almost made by Michelangelo himself!!

[PWAX -  Truly a high density of piles.]

[Called a "high place":]

[Included in the email]

The Planning Board on WED APR 2 will hear an application to subdivide a property on Lawton Foster Road North owned by Joyce Devine and Eric Kingman. Plat 11, Lot 2 is presently 14.37 ac and would be divided into Lot A 11.70 ac and Lot B 2.67 ac. This is the applicants 3rd subdivision of the original larger tract over the last dozen years. They have so far created 3 road frontage house lots and two are purchased and built. They also sold a 4 ac rear section to an abuttor in Brightman Hills. The present application would create a new large and a new standard size road frontage lot with the theoretical possibility of at least one further subdivision of the large lot.

I bring this to your attention because of the density and quality of the indigenous stone works on this property and surrounding properties. See the attached photos for a sample of what is there. I spoke with Steve DiMarza this afternoon. He is Regional Coordinator for Rhode Island for the New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA). He has walked the property and considers it possibly the best ceremonial landscape in Rhode Island. I made an offer of $1000 toward anything we can do to preserve this ceremonial landscape.

All winter I was busy in this section of town laying out and mapping trails. The amount of native stone works we came upon was incredible. A month ago I recommended the Hopkinton Land Trust look to acquiring this property and another on the east side of LFRN primarily due to the superb native cultural features. I did not know this application was already in the works.

This project is being reviewed as a Minor Subdivision. Such an application could often be a one night review and approval. There are two reasons I will likely ask the Planning Board to extend the hearing an additional meeting and schedule a site walk prior to a second meeting. First is to view the ceremonial landscape and how it will be impacted. I doubt any PB member has ever seen anything like this property before. The second is to inspect the very difficult soils on the property.

The Town Comprehensive Plan addresses ceremonial landscapes as follows"

"Eligible for designation on the National Register of Historic Places are sites, buildings, structures, districts, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture. These include traditional cultural places or properties (TCPs). A TCP can be eligible for inclusion in the National Register because of its association with cultural practices or beliefs of a living community that (a) are rooted in that community's history, and (b) are important in maintaining the continuing cultural identity of the community (National Register Bulletin 38, US Department of the Interior). On December 13, 2008, the National Register of Historic Places signed a Determination of Eligibility for the first Ceremonial Landscape site, Turner Falls in Massachusetts, to be acknowledged in the eastern United States.

TCPs are reminders of the spiritual practices of Native peoples that are considered by the Tribe(s) to be irreplaceable and they may be threatened by development. There are places in Hopkinton that may be of ceremonial importance to the Narragansett Indian Tribe. The Town of Hopkinton will make efforts to work with the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office (NITHPO) and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) to identify and protect important ceremonial sites in Town."

The Comp Plan further designates specific responsibilities for identifying and preserving the ceremonial sites to the Hopkinton Historical Association, Historic District Commission and the Town Planner along with NITHPO.

The dominant soil on this property is CaD - Canton-Charlton-Rock outcrop complex, 15 to 35 percent slopes. Quoting from the Soil Survey of Rhode Island, "The steep slopes, the stony surface, and rock outcrops make this complex poorly suited for community development. Onsite septic systems require special design and installation to prevent effluent from seeping to the surface, and rock outcrops make excavation difficult." "Although this complex is poorly suited to trees, most areas are in woodland, and the soils are better suited to woodland than to most other uses." The Canton "soil is extremely acid through strongly acid" and the Charlton "soil is very strongly acid through medium acid". "These soils are not suited to cultivated crops. Stones, boulders, and rock outcrops make the use of farming equipment impractical. The hazard of erosion is severe."

I understand there is at least one cellar hole on this site. My speculation is that the Brightmans or whoever occupied this property prior to the Civil War made their living from the water powered sawmill just down slope to the west on Canonchet Brook South Fork and any farming was incidental to the main occupation. They may have raised a few sheep or goats but would have had to procure winter time fodder from off-site. I am not sure a single stacked stone on this site can be attributed to farming.

I am requesting all other organizations interested in preserving the integrity of this ceremonial landscape to make their interests known at or prior to the Planning Board meeting six days from now.

Wouldn't it be great if a bargain can be struck to preserve this wonderful landscape? 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Through the breach - Camp Str. Milford Part 2

(Western side of the valley of Mill River, south of Peppercorn Hill.) Where we left off here there was a large stone wall with an opening or gap, about 15 feet wide. Let's pass through this gap now and look at a part of the slope right up against the power lines (at the edge of the blue outline I showed on the map). Notice the way the wall terminates, on the downhill side of the gap:

Now we enter a new area where the piles were larger - more what I would call "ski jump" style piles. 

Such "ski jumps" are more common down south here in Milford, Upton, Holliston, and Hopkinton.

I consider them a kind of "marker pile", with a nice vertical face on at least one side and possibly playing some role is time-keeping. Also sometimes found near rectangular mounds with hollows.

Here is a beauty (seen in two views):

Here were some other typical features. A pile with quartz (in the middle of a "U" of stones, largest at the ends of the"U"):

And a split wedged rock:

Here are some structures connected to boulders:

They are like piles from Horse Hill and north.

The place is surrounded by walls. Another massive one, with a clean ending:

Interesting that there are older collapsed walls in the foreground and etc.

Then finally, at the high point of this walk, was a larger mound:
From the side:
There is a small, distinct depression on top:
Very nice.

From there, I went back down the valley and out. Some impressions on the way:
A place with a large building foundation, integrated into the wall:

But not so fast! There was still more. I think I am going to need a part 3.

historic reference to rock piles and stone structures in westchester new york

Reader wwrssm writes:

Please look at the first few pages of the Lewisboro chapter. Rock piles and stone structures are discussed.

Stone pile with lintel and opening from Southeastern CT

Reader Jame B writes:
Hi, I live in Southeastern CT, I was hiking on one of my local trails and went exploring off the trail a little bit and found this structure. I was wondering if you had any idea what this may have been. It is about 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The top of it is open and the front of it has a flat stone horizontally placed with an opening in the front. The back is enclosed by small stones. There are no other rock piles or structures within a good distance from this area. There are colonial homesites in this area but no closer than two miles. I do not believe it is colonial. I attached some pictures. I was just wondering if you have any idea what it is, any info would be appreciated.

[PWAX - we have seen such things before. For example here and here]

Two New Entries

(More "Stone Wall" related than really Rock Pile Related, but...)
(Stone Wall Destruction sometime between 1909 and 1914)
And something that somehow escaped the same fate:
Which reminds me of these from Alyssa Alexandria, photos taken somewhere in sight of Mt. Shasta:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hiking the Track Rock Archaeological Zone in Georgia

 From the People of One Fire:

Each time that the History Channel or one of its overseas affiliates re-runs the premier of American Unearthed - the Mayas in Georgia - I am inundated with emails from around the world, with questions about visiting the half square mile terrace complex.  Unfortunately, I have never been paid a penny from being on the program. 

Yesterday, 83 of my 100+ emails were asking questions about Track Rock or one of the other stone architecture sites in northern Georgia.  Three days before, it apparently was broadcast in Mexico.  I even received an inquiry from a famous Mexican movie actress.  Apparently, someone is Mexico is thinking about doing a movie about the Maya refugees coming to the Southeastern United States. She wanted to know how Creek women dressed and if the Creeks practiced human sacrifice.

I wrote an article in the Examiner that answers all their questions and give specific directions to the Track Rock and Sandy Creek terrace complexes.  If interested in keeping this information on file,  you may go to:

Have a great day.

Richard Thornton, Architect & City Planner
POOF Editor

dc's cool Peppercorn Hill capture (and some smoking guns)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Camp Str Milford, south of Peppercorn Hill

I have blogged about Taft Str. and this bit of woods south of Peppercorn Hill before. When I left off exploring there I was still finding rock piles. So I thought it would be worth coming in from the other directions, on Camp Str. In truth, the whole hillside has one cluster of rock piles after another.
The green outline shows where we have been before. (By the way, Bruce McAleer first showed me Peppercorn Hill.) The blue shows where I was this time.
Coming in from Camp Str. and walking west, as soon as you cross the brook (Mill River) there are rock piles on the right. It turned out later there were also rock piles to the left, but the better direction is to the right, uphill.
There was still snow on the ground but climbing up the "ridge", there were definitely rock piles:
On the ridge-line (really a soft shoulder) there was less snow and more rock piles:
In some places there is a "grid" appearance with of evenly spaced rock piles:
And again here:
And nicer and nicer piles:
As I climbed, I came to a place with a tall stone wall in the background and rock piles seeming to lead up to it:
The wall has a gap or break in it, visible in the middle of the picture. Next, we'll go through the gap.

The "Stone Donut" Photo (near Gamble Lake Michigan)

 "WHAT??" writes Professor Emeritus R.V. ("Dick") Dietrich,  "This "structure" is an example of accumulations of stones with similar upland locations within the area.  Each of these stone piles is considered to be an ancient artifact by the local people who know them well.   In addition, some of these people have indicated their beliefs that the piles were likely made by, for example, neolithic "stone-age" aborigines, Celtic Druids, Vikings or pre-Columbian Native American Indians.  Whomever, it seems safe only to say that these "structures" were made after the last removal of glacial ice from the area, which was about 11,000 years ago.  
               The geographical locations and interrelations of most of these accumulations of stones are frequently cited to support the hypothesis that they are meaningful artifacts -- i.e., they are not just stones that were put where they are in order to clear the land. In support of this aspect of the hypothesis, it is indeed quite evident that the land surrounding this accumulation of stones would have never been cleared for, for example, farming (see the map), and, indeed, there are several stones that I believe would have been removed and become part of this group had that been the purpose.  In addition, it seems noteworthy that this structure is on what would have an island in during the so-called Algonquin and  Nipissing stages of the Great Lakes.  And, if only a few or no trees etc. were present, nearby areas of the lower-level Lakes Chippewa and Stanley as well as of the more recent, and current, Lakes Michigan and Huron could have been seen from this location.  
               One professional archaeologist is said to have looked at this group of stones and suggested that this structure represents a "post-American Civil War lime kiln."  Nothing that I have seen or been able find nearby seems to support that suggestion.  The only other suggestion that I have heard is that it may have been a place where fires were built to heat maple sap to make syrup.  Consequently, the given heading seems appropriate until the origin(s) and use(s) of this and other accumulations of stones in similar settings are proved. 

               For the record: The outside "circumferance" of this roughly circular structure is approximately 55 feet; the "diameters" range from about 16 to 20 feet;  the inside diameter ranges from approximately 6 to 8 feet;  the height of the wall, the top of which is roughly horizontal, ranges from about 3½ to 4½ feet above the surrounding uneven ground-level;  the "floor" of the central part is about 1½ feet above the "average" surrounding ground-level.  The constituent stones are largely "limestone" rubble but "hard-rock" boulders are also included -- see close-ups.  That is to say, both stones from the rubble of fairly nearby formations and stones transported from Ontario by glacial ice during the last "Ice Age" are included.  This makeup, of course, is one of the criteria that establishes the date of creation of the structure as post-the most recent "Ice Age" glaciation. 
               The topography of the nearby area led to my thinking of this structure it as analogous to a multi-jeweled pendant on a dowager's breast --see the section of the topographic map area that is included.  As might be expected, other people who are familiar with these relationships have alternative interpretations." 

Found in the middle of a lengthy collection of some thing called:
STRAITS'  STONES: A  Picture Album 
Fieldstones -- Buildings and Other Uses
Volume I. Mackinac County
© 2011
 - mostly about historic use of fieldstones, but with some boulders "thrown in" at:,A,Straits-ToEdit.html
 On a related page this poem was found:
"As you continue to build your relationship with stones,
 be aware of the stones around you when you are out walking.
  See if one calls to you.  If it does, pick it up and hold it.  
See what you can learn. 
If there are no stones where you walk, get a bowl full of stones for your house or apartment." 
& this as well: 
"Again, a request:  If anyone has suggestions for things to be included with these Addenda -- e.g., additional uses of so-to-speak raw stones OR anything else about stones that seems especially noteworthy -- Please contact me via email at: "
The Professor also has a section on wooden fences:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tlingit Cairns in Southeast Alaska

Drs. Ralph Hartley (left) and William Hunt exploring one of the cairns. All photos courtesy William Hunt.

     "For many, (semi) retirement is a chance to kick back and relax. But for archeologist Bill Hunt, retirement gave him the opportunity to delve in to unexplored areas of southeast Alaska and uncover the secrets behind manmade rock piles called cairns that dot the landscape..."
"For the Tlingit, they have a story about a great flood that occurred some time in the un-dateable past in which the Raven caused the water to rise. The water came up out of the ground and the people had to scramble up the mountainsides to keep from drowning. If you ask the Tlingit what these cairns are, they’ll say they are flood markers. Others will tell you that people took refuge from brown bears and other animals in the larger ones..."
"We also have a team of archeologists–myself, Ralph, Amanda Davey and graduate student Mike Chodoronek–from the University of Nebraska and [we] are working with UNAVCO engineer Marianne Okal to map our survey area with ground-based LiDAR. This will provide a really detailed map of the area...One thing that we’ve found is that they vary in size—from small ones with seven or eight big stones to cairns with hundreds of large stones. They have a lot of open spaces – no soil fill inside them. They generally occur as widely spaced features in rows on mountainside benches facing the water. This arrangement made us reject their use as hunting features like blinds or to control the direction of animal movement..."