Friday, May 30, 2014

Near Farley Rd Hollis NH

Daring New Hampshire to reject me again, I went back to the area north of Silver Lake, and found the woods the same as before - undisturbed and full of clusters of rock piles. Here is one group:
Look at this rock pile:

Looks like an effigy but, without a shell, I do not think it is a turtle. 
There were a few other low piles around and, later, some lady slippers.
The woods were welcoming enough.

Hokey Smokes, I said...

      My curiosity about details of those "stone walls" of interesting irregular geometric shapes on the trail map took a back seat to my reaction to this photo:
PWAX Photo (2014)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Acton's Trail Through Time - Nashoba Brook

Here is the trail map you see upon parking at Wheeler Ln and walking down and across the bridge:
If you look closer:
You see little rock pile symbols. I have to say I am happy with how they groomed the place and a walk down the yellow trail is is a good introduction (see here for earlier discussion). See the quartz in the foreground?
New structure is revealed:
The grooming is aggressive:
Continuing down the yellow trail ... here is the money shot, another interpretive sign with the "Plantain" Grid:
If you click in, to read the numbers, you will see that 1,7, 8 are in a line more or less parallel with 2,6,11 and that 4,12 also define a line parallel to these others. Also the piles are more or less evenly spaced. So this is a reason to consider this a "grid". Years ago, only piles 1,4,6,8,12 were visible and they formed a parallelogram with a center point - there is a picture of it somewhere with one of my sons [or maybe not - I just noticed "Concord Lithics" is gone]. Nice to see the place cleaned up:
 Here are what they are calling "Plantain" Rattlesnake Orchids:
The place is on its way to being a Japanese garden. And that is very nice, But what was really exciting was the large rock pile I saw in the other direction, north from the bridge crossing rather than south of it - diagonally up the hill on the should of the flatter area:
Wait till they groom that! Probably the largest un-damaged stone mound in Acton. The crescent shape is familiar, especially from places north and west of here.

Nolumbeka News

Here's something you might like to add to your calendars. We at Nolumbeka Project admire the skills the Wolf Tree staff is sharing with our youth.

Hope & Olive Free Soup & Games Night to Benefit Wolf Tree Programs

June 2nd, 2014

  Many years in the making, we are pleased to annouce the first ever Wolf Tree fundraiser. We are raising money for the creation of a scholarship fund to enable low-income families to participate in our programming. We have been selected by Hope & Olive to be the beneficiary of their June 2nd Free Soup & Games night.

There will be free food, a cash bar and a raffle to raise additional monies.

Join us for an evening of fun  in support of our scholarship fund.

Date: Monday, June 2nd
Time: 5:00 - 7:30pm
Location: Hope & Olive, 44 Hope st, Greenfield, MA

Thanks to Hope & Olive for allowing this to happen, as well as all our
donors & volunteers.

Raffle Tickets Now on Sale!

Contact Jen Mason-Black for details
Email: Cell phone (978 320-7695)

For more details:

The Fort Guy

Reader TT writes:
I finally heard back from the Maine Preservation Fort Guy.  Not sure where he was coming from or agree with any of his conclusions: "I have to say that I am very impressed at your interest and persistence in trying to figure out what the walls may represent.  I visited the site for a couple of hours on May 13th and have been so busy I have not had a chance to respond to you.  I really took the time to look the place over carefully including the river shore up and down stream.  If the site was actually a 17th-century fort, some of the basic components that would be necessary would be a river landing that was easily accessible since most travel was by water.  Also a relatively flat site that was easily defendable.  From looking over the area there is no convenient river landing or shore where boats could be pulled up and offloaded.  The site itself is sloped making it very difficult to construct structures.  In addition there is higher ground to the east upslope that an enemy could easily fire from down onto the potential fort.  The stone walls are indeed interesting including the smaller possible pens northeast of the main stone enclosure in the video.  My guess is that the walls were constructed to both clear the land of unwanted stones for agriculture or grazing and to create an animal enclosure, possibly to hold animals shipped on the train.  It is important to remember that given such a function the stone walls would have supported an upper wooden fence that would have created a high barrier.  Many people are not aware that this was standard for animal enclosures.  Think of the small historic animal pounds that you see in some towns that consist of a low stone wall.  One would think how could that have possibly held animals.  The question would not be asked if the wooden split rail fence was still present on top of the walls.  To be honest I was really hoping you had found an important site and that is why I took my time to really look it over, but in the end there is very little to suggest a fort.  Another important thing to keep in mind especially with Native Americans is that many activities occurred through what anthropologists call “least effort strategies.”  This means that generally folks were not going to expend a lot of energy doing something that was not really necessary.  Building a fort requires tremendous energy and organization and there has to be a real need for it as well.  All this being said I hope you will continue looking around for important sites.   I am happy to check them out if you think you might have found something." 
I suspect he was comparing his findings to that of later French and Indian fort.  If it is Fort Norumbega, it would have been a fur trading fort for the French in a time when there were no other enemies that might have built on higher ground, and had the gunpowder to fire down on the fort. I had no argument but did reply by sending these two pictures of the landing and canoe cove directly below the walls on the river.  I will continue my quest, regardless.  Please don't repost this.  T. 

Half Tide in a Sea of Ferns

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Are the Adirondacks really empty of stone structures? Or are they under reported?
These do not look like easy places to explore but they look like places where there should be plenty of rock piles. I cannot accept the absence of information as information about absence.

Stone tool from the Penobscot

Reader T.T. writes:
A common occurrence on the Penobscot, a decade ago I did manage one preform or hand-axe possibility, on the banks below the walls.  When I turned it over I realized it had a odd weathering pattern.  It is not carved, but almost looks like a fossilized root pattern, of which I have found on felsite before.  I enclose some photos, thought you might appreciate, given the locality.  Kind of a poor man's Spirit Pond Map Stone.  T.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Ware's Rd Ashby

Lost my camera today and it felt like losing my eyes. But I ordered a replacement for a few bucks, used, from Amazon.The only real pity is losing those pictures of a site I found at the edge of Willard Brook State Park, in southeastern-most Ashby.
I stepped off the road into the woods along a forest road and spotted rock piles immediately. They were low and spread out over a slope below and on the east side of a ridge. Most of the piles were east of the road but, looking uphill a bit and west of the road, was the first of several larger piles, rectangular. You know. Quite similar site structure to the finds on Rocky Hill and adjacent.

Final Schematic

As you all know, I've been working for the past 2 years on compiling an inventory of stone constructions on the eastern seaboard, from Georgia to Nova Scotia.  I have now closed the inventory at 4,209 sites and sent it on to my research assistant, Cory Fournier, to begin the analysis of these sites.  More will certainly be forthcoming which I will post to this blog, but for now I thought you might like to see the final distribution map by 100 km blocks across the region.  I asked Peter to post an earlier version of this, I think about a year ago.  This is a schematic, at a very large scale, so it's not too obvious where landforms are, but the southernmost site is in Savannah GA while the northernmost is interior New Brunswick, Canada. The numbers on the top and left edges are the UTM coordinates.  It is color-coded so you can easily see where the highest concentrations are.

It should be obvious that the highest concentration is in eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and southern New Hampshire - which should come as no surprise!  Sites are generally absent from the coastal plain south of the glacial margin, which is not surprising since there are few rocks there!  There is also a clear separation between the cluster in the Southeast and that in the Northeast, which to me suggests that we are dealing with different cultures in each region.  What I think is more surprising is the general absence of sites from the Adirondacks and White Mountains, while they are not uncommon in the Catskills and Green Mountains. 

More to come!

Scuppo Road Box Turtle Surprise

Box Turtle Shaped Boulder and Stones (or Testudinate Petroform) on left, man shaped man with hat shaped hat on right:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

College Rock

Early last month, when there was still snow on the ground, on a whim I took a walk out to College Rock in the southern part of Hopkinton MA.  This is near the headwaters of the Charles River, and the general area is known for having lots of stone sites:

It wasn’t easy to see much on the ground due to the snow, but when I climbed to the top of the hill I found a few split wedged boulders and also evidence of quarrying.  On my way out, I passed between 2 very nice rock piles (marked as MA 1197 on the map).  I made a mental note to come back again once the snow had cleared.

I returned in late April, and to my surprise there were rock piles everywhere!  I counted 27 of them, plus a stone row, and a stone which had been marked.  Here are some pix:

On the rise to the southeast, labeled MA1216 on the map, there were more – I counted another 27, plus what looked like a prayer seat:

And further south, there was an enormous balanced rock, labeled MA1217 on the map – this is actually over the town line in Holliston:

I’ve asked the folks at the Hopkinton Historical Commission if they can tell me why this location is called College Rock, but they don’t seem to know.  The north face of the formation is pretty sheer, so maybe it’s a location for college students to do some climbing?  Or does it refer rather to a gathering place, maybe for Native people?

Friday, May 23, 2014

The "Crude Wall" in Concord MA

"Crude wall at the Old Manse, in Concord, MA. Important for three main reasons: (1) pasture fence; (2) military expedience; and (3) it helped inspire Ralph Waldo Emerson to publish Nature in 1836," writes R.M. Thorson..
- and that's Myth #11: Indigenous People of what's now called New England did not build with stones!
I disagree here:

A little update:
The list can be found at
And, as they say, one is good, but two is better; here's a second one that is very similar in artistic construction at Bladen's River Preserve in Woodbridge CT:
      I felt it had to be something because of the placement of the "head stone," emphasized by the "eye" when I took the photo, but only interpreted it as testudinate after writing the above when it showed up on the "my photos" screen saver as it flashed by...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Colonial America Myths

particularly of note #1 & #2 (at the bottom of the page)......
Jeff in RI

The Unusual Trail of Guilford Westwoods

Nolumbeka: "Victory for Equality!"

The Greenfield Town Council voted tonight to approve the Native American Burial Ordinance submitted by Howard Clark and Joe Graveline on behalf of the Nolumbeka Project . The story was covered by WLLP 22 News and will likely be broadcast tonight.

We're thankful to all of you for your support in body and spirit.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Tale of Two Hills

So little time for blogging, I am sorry this may not be much of a tale. I have been going out every weekend since the snow melted (except while on vacation) and finding one or two rock pile sites each time.
Last weekend I was being systematic and exploring an obscure hill on the boundary of Leominster and Westminster, thinking about something else, when I stepped on a rock pile. I looked right and left and found them all around me, a lot of them evenly spaced. In a few minutes I start thinking "where is the usual large rectangular mound with a hollow that should be at the edge of these things?" and I found it, later, near the highpoint of the site.

And somewhere in there I started thinking: "haven't I been here before...wasn't I just here?". What with memory failing and all it took a moment to remember - yes - I found the same site the previous weekend, on a different hill. Later at home, looking at a map, I can see these two hills are neighbors.

If I could show you the view from Rt 2 in Lunenberg, west across the Nashua River Valley, you would see a range of hills. That is the Manoosnocs. Those are my hills. In the middle, the main hill seen behind the steeples of Leominster, is South Manoosnoc. To the right is north Manoosnoc, and to the left is a smaller unnamed hill. Still further left, further south, is a big hill with radio towers, called Rocky Hill. Even though I climbed that sucker two weekends ago, I never saw the towers, so I must have been on a sub-summit and missed seeing the main hill through the foliage.

Both sites were on the northeast facing shoulder of a hill.
This is particularly interesting because both hills are within easy eye-shot of Mt Wachusett. Yet neither site takes advantage of this view. You cannot see the mountain from them because they are on the wrong side of the hill. This seems significant, in a sort of preliminary way, because it dis-associates the mountain from the ceremony that was going on at these sites. I have more confidence in the meaning of these sites than in the unclear importance of the mountain. Anyway, here is what I saw two weekends ago on Rock Hill.
The hilltop:
I was headed down the northern shoulder, following the eastern side of the ridge and came to a big rock pile. I did not trust it at first but my confidence grew that it was what I was looking for.
  I saw that it was rectangular...
 and had a white rock at one corner.
Here it is, seen from below. A fine wall crosses the hill here.
So I went looking for other piles nearby, following the contour of the hill in one direction and seeing nothing. In the other direction I found one, then a second covered with leaves, and then maybe twenty more going down the hill to the north, right up to the back of houses. Here is the first:
 A detail of the "fin" sticking out of it:
 Another view, from across a pile covered in leaves in the foreground.
Further on, a larger pile that looks like it has been cleared of debris:
 Some others:
 What does Tim think of this one? It looks a bit like a turtle.
 Right up to the backs of houses on Peterson Rd where I had parked,
...this has been a long post already. 
The other hill is unnamed. It is south of Hobbs Rd in Princeton, south of the more prominent Wolf Den Hill. I am calling it "Keyes Brook Hill". I parked on Redemption Rock Rd (Rt 40) and had to cross Keyes Brook to get to where I wanted to explore. This brook is either a wide river or a tumbling cascade. I gotta tell you, this was a scarey brook crossing:
I had to take large steps onto pointy or slippery rocks, with confidence. And I had to do it twice. 

I walked up the gradual hill from the west, saw a few minor things, crossed a more official looking "Wachusett Watershed" trail, and noticed several places with short bits of stone wall:
I planned to zig-zag north-to-south along the slope, by starting at the norther end of the hill. So I first went north following the eastern side of the ridge [I do this somewhat unconsciously] and stumbled on one, then many, rock piles. The first one had a kind of "fin":
 Another pile that looks a bit lile a turtle.
 Some of the piles looked nice, others were too beaten down and covered with leaves
 I like these small oval bumps that are completely covered. They do not photo well:
On Rocky Hill there were maybe 30 piles. Here there were 50-100; quite densely packed in an acre or so. I was hoping to see a larger pile and did see one, too covered with debris to verify its shape or whether it had a hollow:
 Pretty vistas:

Some pretty individual piles:
 a detail:
 Hidden in the undergrowth.

 On the way back towards my car, I cross a flat area right behind the houses and under pine trees. There was another small site there, with old piles and a wall coming up from the valley ending in a couple of messy rectangles. 
Back down the hill,over the difficult brook, back to my car.