Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Interesting Stones in VT Stone Piles

     A reader of Rock Piles “for quite some time” decided to “step out of the shadows” and sent me quite a few photos including those of this interesting stone (sandstone with quartz veins?) in a stone pile found at the edge of a floodplain along the Huntington River in Vermont:
A few more views:
   Other stone piles etc. nearby:

    Above is “sort of before,” below is “after” of a “cobbles on boulder.”
    This reader states that this above is “a photo of what I think is a turtle form. On our land (Huntington, Vermont) we have a road that is ancient (although it has been unfortunately disturbed by logging) that is on a direct way from Lake Champlain to Camel's Hump…”

   (The Abnaki name for the mountain was "ta wak be dee esso wadso," or "tahwahbodeay wadso" (wadso meaning mountain), which has been variously translated as "resting place", "sit-down place", and "prudently, we make a campfire in a circle near water (and rest) at this mountain." -'s_Hump)
     “…Indigenous folks camped and farmed a bit in the summers around here, including down by the river on many properties close by…(Several other camps along this river and other nearby areas have been subjects of digs by the University of Vermont and the Vermont Archaeological Society.)...On either side of our road are occasional erratics…many of which seem to have subtle enhancements.  Most we have left undisturbed.  I found this small arrangement last year, took lots of photos of it as it was almost completely buried and then carefully removed most detritus.  It is on the edge of what is now a very boggy area and might once have been a proper small forest pond.  I have many more photos.  I've been poking around the 'pond' edges looking for other signs, and have found a few possibilities, but nothing like this…”
There is also a “Split Erratic” (above left) described as “filled with 'chosen' rocks, way too small, I think for a farmer to bother with, plus the fact that the erratic is on a steep enough incline to make farming here unlikely (there is a cellar hole about 200 yards above and some messy stone walls - all larger rocks too - that have an entirely different feeling to them)  The piling is characterized too by thinner rocks that seemed to have been arranged to 'echo' some of the quartz bands and the shape of the erratic itself, although some look disturbed, just by the forces of time.)  It has some astonishing bands of quartz and we're still working on clearing it, so the whole picture has not emerged.  It also has what I think are an unusual number of 'manitou' shaped rocks in it.... but some aspects of it puzzle me or haven't come clear.   I'll include two photo of it too in case you have some ideas.  The first one doesn't show that there are two rocks sort of nestled together, it just shows the one bigger one - but that is what caught my eye.  The second (above right) attempts to show the 'echo'…”
More views of this:  
And a few more photos:
There may be more to follow, but I’d like to include that the reader also sends this message along: “Thank you so much for your (Rock Piles) site.”


Unknown said...

Hi, I'm the new Vermont NEARA (New England Antiquities Research Association) coordinator and I'd like to remind us all that we should not move rocks that make up part of stone mounds. This takes away their value archaeologically. Experts need to see the rocks just as they were found. They need to see how much detritus covers them in order to begin to have any idea of dating them.

Of course one can do as one wishes on one's own land, but since we value these stone mounds as part of ceremonial landscapes created by the indigenous peoples, it is better to follow the Principles of Archaeological Ethics guidelines, and not to move the stones or what may be covering them.

The Principles of Archaeological Ethics may be found here:

Thank you,
Mary Stowe

Unknown said...

For the reader: I am compiling an inventory of Native sacred stone constructions along the eastern seaboard of the US and Canada. This will result in a GIS-based model of site location which will hopefully provide for better site protection. Could you please send me more specific information on this site's location? If you want to keep this off the blog, you can send the information to me at

pwax said...

I am curious who the VT coordinator thinks are the "experts"?

Tim MacSweeney said...

I think of all the details I gradually became aware of that I would have missed had I not decided to remove the fallen brush here and there from around some stonework - and especially in my own yard where I've taken it a step further and removed the cover of leaves in a few selected spots in my old chickenyard:

Tim MacSweeney said...

"These mounds may be on my property but I don’t consider them “mine.” They belong to the Paugessett and Schaghticoke People..." I've shared photos with several members of those Tribal Nations and it has been visited by the Spiritual Advisor to both. And I extend an open invitation to the "experts" once again...

Unknown said...

Sorry, "experts" is of course a very loaded word. Tom Wessels, author of "Reading the Forested Landscape" comes to mind as one possibility. He was asked to help "date" a stone mound on Glastonbury Mountain comparing the amount of debris, moss and lichen to an old fire tower cabin up there.

I will check my facts but I believe that archaeologists want to see these structures as we find them, that we detract from what they can learn by moving the debris and/or the stones. I have also heard Native American preservationists ask that we not move debris on what are to them sacred landscape structures. I think that that is a second and perhaps even more valid reason for not moving the debris even if it means that we cannot satisfy our curiosity as much we we would like to. However, perhaps not all first peoples agree with that---maybe asking them would be appropriate.

I certainly don't mean to offend anyone. I am just doing this volunteer job as I see my responsibility. I welcome input and feedback from anyone else reading this.

pwax said...

Mary Stowe is right but there are videos of Indians grooming piles at Turner's Falls and I think we all do it occasionally.

pwax said...

How about allowing it sometimes? Some rules might be:
- never groom piles near a trail
- never move component rocks
- never do more than a sample of piles