Sunday, April 30, 2017

Early Flowers in Groton

Our local wild cherry (or maybe it is shad):
An unfamiliar variety of blueberry:
[ADDED:] I cannot find any website that discusses what varieties of blueberry grow wild in this part of New England. Wikipedia's photos are not adequate - so can anyone tell me about this variety?
[ADDED:] Contacted the U of ME blueberry expert. It is called leatherleaf.

Pussy Willows:
High bush blueberry:
And some birch flower:
And let's not forget the oaks:
It is a spring where everything is flowering at the same time - from maples to lilacs.

A special place in Groton

Although I say Groton is in the category of "always disappoints" there are actually a few sites here and there. I joke that the only good sites in Groton are in adjacent towns: Horse Hill should really be in Dunstable, Snake Hill should really be in Ayer. Except for a little bit of northern slope down hill from "The  Throne", I don't know any sites in Groton with larger "mounds".

But I still spend time exploring Groton. It is not too far away and has several patches of woods that look ok on the map. Long ago I explored off the end of Nutting Rd and a place called "Smoke Hill" with a friend. We didn't see anything interesting and never went back. Recently I woke up thinking I had missed a spot on the map south and east of the end of Nutting Rd. So I went for a quick walk and saw a few things. Let me tell you about a little valley I found between Smoke Hill, Rocky Hill, and Snake Hill:
It is a little bowl where the waters from the higher marshes drain out in a small brook going over little cascades that fill the bowl with sound of gurgling. As I approached, I could hear this sound from dozens of little waterfalls.
I say: "What looms there in the distance?" The view (look in the upper 1/3 of photo):
As I went to take a closer look, I found a "niche" with an opening through to the downhill/water side of the structure:
The lintel stone is notable:
I regret not examining the opening through the structure more carefully.
Quite a fine structure.

There was a loose stone wall crossing the slope in a diagonal from the top of the brook over towards the "niche" but I did not see any other man made structures here. So I went up to see where the water was coming from:

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Short stretch of wall Ashburnam State Forest

Spotted from the car, somewhere along Stowell Rd:
from below:
It reminds me a bit of walls with a circle at one end.

George Carter was Right!

[About early man in America]:

Friday, April 21, 2017

More archeology in plain sight - from "Life Below Zero"

[More, not rock pile related] At the mouth of the Kiwalik river, looks like tepee spots:
Not so "mysterious".

NEARA Meeting this weekend

so if you want to hear Rolf C-S talk, you can hear him at the conference.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Between the hills at Marble Hill in Stow

Behind the Fire Station, you can walk to the back of the fields and then follow one of a choice of trails. I took a right angle turn left into the wet area full of boulders and saw familiar odds and ends as I headed upstream:
 Hard to escape the impression of an old structure:

Close to the "top" of the water, in the saddle between a smaller hill to the west and Marble Hill to the east, I spotted a systematic rectangle on the west side
Going over to investigate, I saw a smaller pile up the slope a bit:
The rectangle was an indistinct shape, a bit rectangular:
And there is a line of stones, a "wall" leading off diagonally from one corner:

So then, naturally, you go up the hill just to be systematic and the little pile you saw at the beginning turns out to be the tip of an iceberg - a marker pile "iceberg" with piles getting bigger the further and further you get from that original large rectangle (my interpretation).
Here is a panorama:

Over to the side (south) something to look at through the brush?
Larger piles, more broken down:

 And a nice combination of pile and boulder and pile
And then, at the very edge of a site, the biggest so far:
This is big enough to almost qualify as a "mound" itself. A nice slope:
By the way, Stow could be reasonably considered a suburb of Boston.

I want to emphasize the site layout that includes:
  • a grid of piles on a slope,
  • a rectangular structure at the high point of water adjacent to the slope. 
I see this layout in many places. When I see a grid, I hope to see rectangular structures in association with it. Just like last weekend where the rectangles only showed up in the highest valley below Ingalls Rd.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cultivated fields 37 miles south of the arctic circle?

[Not rock pile related]. This picture has me mystified. What are those enclosed fields on the slope in the background?
3:33 into "Life Below Zero"Series 3, Episode 14. At a place called Kiwalik.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Rock Pile Next to a Gurgle

At Conscience Hill, Westford
At Marble Hill, Stow

Conscience Hill Westford

So many things, impossible to post simply. Marker Piles:
And more marker piles:
And more marker piles:
Still more marker piles:
Something different - up in the high valley below Ingalls Rd:
A rectangular platfom and a diagonal platform connecting to a large rectangle with a hollow -itself  connected to the wall. Like this:
Here is the large rectangle:
Here is another large rectangle nearby. These are all at the highest point of the water.
And another:
The "marker pile" at this point was huge:

Comments on Rolf Cachat-Schilling Lecture

It was kind of a "scene" at the Zion Lutheran Church in northern Worcester - a small group of Mass archaeological society ("MAS") members and a small group of people who heard about it from this blog. From the looks of it, MAS is not a large organization. There were technical difficulties until someone plugged the VGA cable into the correct port on the projector and then the lecture began - an hour late. The speaker derived his credibility from a Nipmuc background (his great aunts), from his contact with the Lenape, and from over 60 rock pile sites he has explored in Shutesbury. He proposed an empirical recording of features - so as to compare correlation to expected European agricultural features versus expected Native American ceremonial features - an approach promoted here and also by Curt Hoffman. Needless to say the numbers told a clear story: poor correlation to expected agrarian features, strong correlation to expected ceremonial features. But the talk was not really about numbers. It was about types of pile and types of site and typical site layout.

I enjoyed the talk thoroughly. It contained content beyond the generic message of connecting to "energies and...the Creator....", In fact, the content was largely the same as what I have been observing. Specifically:
  • a small variety of common structures and a very small variety of types of site
  • a number of uncommon structure types
  • most sites contain a combination of marker pile grids (my words) and burials 
The speaker also talked about two other common types: "turtle piles" and "concentric circle" ground piles. He showed a number of examples where the marker piles were on the west side, and the turtle piles on the east side. However, this is one place where I am confident that no such correlation exists. Marker piles are usually facing west  - on a flat slope that takes the morning sunrise. But they also appear east facing, presumably for the afternoon sun, and I know grids that face north and perhaps etc. 

Generally, I thought the speaker was on the right track but wrong in some of the particulars. He showed a pile with a beautifully built carpet of same-sized stones, and called it a "donation pile".  I would argue about that. He also made more out of ground piles than I would - I am not sure that concentric circles are anything other than the way you construct a pile. He mentioned counting the rocks in a pile and mentioned marker piles all being the same size - which I know is not true.

But those are minor quibbles. What really pleases me is to know that there are people out there who are observing carefully. They see much the same as what I see, and I do not need to worry the subject will be limited to spiritual, ethnographic, and anthropological approaches. As you know, I believe in letting the sites speak for themselves as much as possible.

He left me wondering:
  • How do you know it is a burial?
  • What was that about the right moment for passage of loved ones to the "beyond"?
  • Are they going to the sky or the underworld?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tonight in Worcester: be there or be square

Mass. Arch. Soc. Meeting RESCHEDULED

April Meeting, Sat. April 15 , 2017, Zion Lutheran Church, 41 Whitmarsh Avenue, Worcester MA
Remember to enter the Whitmarsh Street side of the church
7:30 Business Meeting: Janet Bessette
7:45 Refreshments: Alan Smith and Curtiss Hoffman
8:00 Lecture

Friday, April 14, 2017

Manitou by the Walking Path — everywhere in plain sight

The Park was bulldozed into civilization as we now know it during the 1970's. The spot was once farmland of course - and someone will prove it to you by showing you the old stone walls, recalling a myth that this was "wilderness" until around 1700. Some old stories survive about Indian incursions and an incident or two in the general area, still sometimes popping up in the news media:

    I've walked by this spot a bunch of times, as have many people, at the edge of the modern landscaping,  a boulder with some stones piled on it by the walking path:

 Closer, it seems there are two distinct circles:
One has a distinct Manitou Stone inside the circle of cobbles: 
Looking back to the more white quartzy construction, I pondered if this white quartz cobble might perhaps be a similar such Manitou Stone rolled over onto its side, knocked out of place: 

I was a little surprised to see that the west side of the boulder had been "walled," for lack of a better term, stones stacked up against the side of it: 

   “Once one awakens to their presence they (Ceremonial Stone Landscape Features) seem to be everywhere,” writes Diane Dix.

     "Finally, I’d say that while many stone features have been destroyed, there are still thousands left. They are hiding in our back yards, in our state forests, along our waterways—everywhere in plain sight. Help others realize why they should be respectful of these when they find them, help them imagine what it might mean to have a religiously-important structure (e.g. something built to honor someone in your family) technically belong to someone else, or be at risk from vandals, pot-hunters, and developers. These stone structures are examples of how humans found a way to interact respectfully and in a mutually-beneficial way with nature. They are Natural Cultural nodes, blueprints for how we will need to think in the future if we are to survive and allow our natural world survive. They are important beyond the specific, and they should give us hope."  Lisa McLoughlin; Nolumbeka. {}