Monday, April 30, 2018

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Videos from "South Justice" Hill

I had the rare pleasure to step into a major site for the first time last weekend. First time for me and first time for the site. One of those occasions when you step forward and, with each step, you see another pile, larger than the one before. A first large site for Sterling.
Unfortunately it was a bright sunny day and the photos are more or less unintelligible. So here are some videos, from north to south.

(Sorry for the down home accent. Apparently I have a subconscious desire to sound folksey.)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Fixing the racism of the Massachusetts State Flag

[Via the Nolumbeka Project] The state seal and flag show a Native American under a threatening sword.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Some road names in Sterling MA

Tim M. questioned me about "North Row Rd". I can find no "South Row Rd", but there is an "Upper North Row Rd". Here's the evidence:

Friday, April 20, 2018

Headwaters of Rocky Brook - Sterling MA

This is an area particularly rich in individual rock piles and small sites. I came back here thinking there were some "upper valleys" on the right hand side of the map fragment, where I had not been. This included parking on Upper North Row Rd, next to the old road, heading down the hill and exploring up the valley of the brook there - Rocky Brook and seeing what there was to see.
There is actually a site right next to the road and up behind one of the houses there. As I stepped into the woods I encountered the edges of that site. Looking back towards the road:
Piles made from quartz are rare around here. I only remember seeing one other (Blanchard Rd...somewhere). Continuing:
There is a good amount of quartz in the rock around there, so I found lots of quartz in the walls and piles. Here, a stray rock-on-rock:
And there is something interesting down next to the brook:
It took a while to process this. I was thinking it was a dam (see previously posted video) but actually you can see it is a road coming across from the upper left down to the brook. In this next picture you can see the road going down and across the brook.
Here is another view. I am afraid I never really captured a good sense of the shape of the thing:
The first thing I noticed coming up to it were the strategically placed chunks of quartz, but none show up in these photos. Also there is a distinct shape to the structure which I could not make sense of. It could be another one of those brook-side mounds I generalized about recently (at the end of this post). 
One thought was that the structure was part of a mill and the 'road' was actually a millrace. But no, it goes off next to a pile of smaller rocks, and remains a road:
Seen from the brook, there is a pile with colored quartz:
It is easy, at this time of year, to see faint hints of trail on the ground. It can give you hints of where the foot traffic was. In this previous photo, I see a bit of trail from down to the colored quartz from the pile of small rocks above. Closeup, a pretty rock:
Here is a view of the large structure from above - (the colored rock pile is to the left, and there are chunks of quartz in fore- and back-ground.
Note the short stretch of wall to the upper right (again, here:)
Again, there are hints of trails, showing us how people may have moved around these structures. And there is a reasonably clear association of trails and old roads with this palce. Someone interested in surveying should go have a close look at this. 

In the woods nearby (south of the brook):
And other examples of quartz:
As I say, it is an area full of small features. Like this one from lower down the same brook, a place of gurgling water:
A couple other things worth showing - a "corner bulge"
 And a rock on rock with some parallelism between the rock shapes.
Would you want to make something of this?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

More appetizer

This is near the top of Rocky Brook Sterling

Monday, April 16, 2018

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sunday, April 29 - Friends of Pinehawk Community Service Day

Here is a notice from the Friends of Pine Hawk.

Sunday, April 29 - Friends of Pine Hawk Community Service Day

A new Acton trail is in its infancy!  To be called the Nashoba Trail (NT), it will be an extension of the Trail Through Time (TTT).  It will begin on the newly opened Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (BFRT), and wind through a series of town open spaces to connect with the Sarah Doublet Forest in Littleton. The NT project will be sponsored jointly by Littleton's and Acton's Conservation Trusts.  The first section of this new trail will be a short link that connects the TTT to the BFRT.

That's where local volunteers can help on Sunday, April 29, 2018 at 1 PM. The effort will focus on clearing brush and tidying up this link which has existed informally between the stone chamber and the old railroad bed since before the NorthBriar subdivision was developed.  Please RSVP to Linda McElroy at 978-429-8000 or Bob Ferrara at or 978-263-8642.  Also you are welcome to join the group for lunch beforehand at 11:30 at Legends Cafe in West Acton. 
Cheers, Linda McElroy & Bob Ferrara

N.B. You are receiving this notice because you asked to be notified of Friends of Pine Hawk activities. If you wish to unsubscribe, please e-mail  

Friday, April 13, 2018

Sweet potato news

[Also not rock pile related]
Someone smarter than me needs to read this. It seems to be saying: the sweet potato was in Polynesia more than 800,000 years ago, therefore it was brought to Polynesia by Polynesians on their way back from the Americas. Hun?....What?

Could someone explain that to me? I am so skeptical of the nonsense geneticists serve up to bolster conventional archaeology, I cannot tell if the article is the usual nonsense, or if it has some kind of logic that escapes me. You decide:

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Headless Tuna Found in Gloucester Woods

[Not rock pile related but too good to miss.]
See here.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Scheduled Talks by Doug Harris

(via Kathy Taylor):
Ceremonial Stone Landscapes 

Tribes want to work with town's historical commissions with memorandums of understanding for identification and preservation of ceremonial stone landscapes
[click to enlarge]

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Doug Harris talk is tonight and tomorrow

In Acton and Harvard.

A comment on comments

I always wished readers were a bit more active in commenting. So when I glanced at the "Jason Colavito" site mentioned previously, I was jealous to see a post with 72 comments.

It turns out, these comments are mostly vituperative commenter-vs-commenter-vs-author. Truth be told I would not mind an occasional controversy [did we have one over the "Mayans in Georgia"?] but the general principle seems to be: people who hang out reading and writing mutiple comments, tend to have emotional agendas. Put another way, they need to get a life.

From that point of view, maybe the few occasional comments we get here - on Rock Piles - are just about right. Comment when needed, not otherwise.

Spirits in Stone - Glen Kreisberg's new book

(via Norman Muller)
I just learned that Glenn Kreisberg has a new book out titled Spirits in Stone: The Secrets of Megalithic America, being published on April 10, and is noted on Amazon.  I don't agree much with what Kreisberg says about alignments, etc., but I'll probably buy the book. His book is mentioned by Jason Colavito on his blog.

Outlook Cairn and Copper Mines - Drummond Wisconsin

From Reader Mike R:
I was wondering if you could help me identify or maybe shed some light on this rock carin i found up in northern Wisconsin.  Its located on a tall rock outcrop and is the highest spot around.  I found this back in the 80's and has always fascinated me.  Its in an area were not a lot people can get to.  In the same area our remnants of old copper mines too.
[In separate email, he continues:] 
The town its near is Drummond, Wisconsin.  I also  attached a photo of a stone tool and a chunk of copper i found near the carin.  A logging crew with heavy equipment was close to the carin and dug up the soil that revealed these artifacts.It is located near a couple of lakes too, but right above an old copper mine.  There is also a small pond nearby that could of been a old mine pit.  I have been exploring the area over the past few years pretty frequently, trying to find some of the other neat man made structures i found when i was younger.  Back in the 80's i came across a few of these carins and these small carved out holes in large rocks.  It has been tough to find these areas again after the loggers went through in the 90's and still going on today. I want to get all of them documented so hopefully a story can be told. So much of our past in north america is still to be told-at least i think so.
[And further email:]
I think these are ancient mines. On some of the nearby rock faces you can still see were the Native Americans built large fires to heat the rock up to get it to crack.  When i looked at your blog, i didnt realize the  amount of rock structures that may have been carved or placed in a way that represents creatures of the earth.  In my travels this year i am gonna keep a closer eye on the landscape.  The areas that i spend most of my time are in remote places that only have been logged once (1880's)and the soils have never been disturbed; a lot of rock outcrops and in general a very rocky terrain.  I attached a couple of pictures of the old copper mines i found this past fall.  They were pretty cool and i found one that you could go in a cave for about 30 feet!

Monday, April 02, 2018

Debunking stone wall myths....the videos

This is a long series of videos with  a person speaking and little visual change. You may not want to sit through it and, in any case, it is hard to locate the whole series - they seem to be scattered around YouTube. Here is one:

Anyway there were several things I enjoyed about these videos: The Bronx accent reminds me of childhood friends. Also I love the gratuitous insults tossed in the direction of academic stone wall "experts". Academic theories on stone walls are described as "infantile". Which is true.

The speaker spends a lot of time discussing a 1930's USGS estimate of 24,000 miles of stone walls, taking 15,000 men 247 years to build. The speaker points out that there were not enough people living outside the cities for this to be possible - by several orders of magnitude. He takes quite a while to discuss this.

Finally, this guy makes a very good point about landowners sub-dividing their land into multiple lots: they would have used (and often did use) simple and regular rectangular plots. Instead we see examples where the subdivisions are random irregular shapes:
Bounded by walls, these lots make no sense if the subdivisions are being created for the first time. They only make sense if the walls were already there.
The speaker adds a key bit of information: there are other walls inside these ones selected (in white) as property boundaries.