Monday, December 14, 2015

Shooting fish in a barrel - Rattlesnake Hill, Bolton

Bolton never disappoints. If you have been reading this blog you know about my "graves at the headwaters" hypothesis and how lately I have been following brooks that lead uphill from larger waterways. Here "Great Brook" beckons - a tributary of Elizabeth Brook and the Assabet. Actually I was here years ago and knew there were some decrepit rock piles. I wanted to look at them again and anyway I wanted to take a short walk with my wife. There are actually two little brooks leading uphill: one to the left of the "R" in 'Rattlesnake', the other just below the "R" on the map. Come to think of it, I should go check the other brook, but this walk was intended for the lower one. 

To make a long story short, I ended by finding an entirely new site on a knoll in the middle of the wetland; where I previously only walked around the edges - even though you can see rock piles from a distance if you look. But, you know, you come up to a site from a different direction and see different things. We went in from the west end of Great Brook Rd. going west and north around the bend of outcrops into a wetland "bowl" with a central outcrop - I am calling it a knoll. First we saw a mound on an outcrop:
I think that is what burial mounds look like. Whether or not I am correct, these hollowed out rock piles are exactly what I am looking for at headwaters. From a distance (with my wife in the foreground):
Then we came to a new place: an outcrop or "knoll" with a path up along the east side and crossing the outcrop. See the path?
It is to just to the left of this panorama. Then the path follows the outcrop to the right.
The sunny southeastern side had fresh looking rock piles in a traditional "grid" [every hill around here has them]. On the shady side of the knoll the rock piles also were of the same sort, but noticeably more beaten down and decrepit. I guess this differential wear on opposite sides of a rock pile site, might be because there were more trees on the shady site. More trees to fall over and hit a rock pile. But I don't know. 
Sunny side pile:
Shady side:

Perhaps I am exaggerating the difference between 'sunny' and 'shady'.

When you see a grid it is a good idea to look closely for a hollowed out mound nearby. There was one such, on the top of the outcrop right next to the path. Here is the path up from below:
Here is a hollowed pile on top of the outcrop- inconspicuous but still there (not a good picture):
Such "burials" often are inconspicuous. This one is at the center of a site, with views in all directions and down the sides of the outcrop. For example:
From here we shambled west and south back down the valley
Seeing a few interesting features:
And a few more shapeless mounds on outcrops.
This is as much confirmation of the hypothesis as I can hope for. Also this is as close as we are likely to get to understanding why rock piles shaped like this can be predictably found in places like this.

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