Friday, December 28, 2018

Hawthorne Brook - Plainville MA - part 1

I was shown a superb site by reader bd, who felt it was time to let people know about this place. I found it a bit confusing because it had nicely preserved mounds with hollows - like "up north" [in Fitchburg], but you could see their affinity with more decrepit pavements - like "down south" [in Wrentham]. Plainville is the next town south of Wrentham and this complicates my attempts to distinguish north from south. Too bad about the theory, here is the data.

Between George Street and Hawthorne Brook, is essentially non-stop mounds "with hollows" including standard variations such as: free standing "pyramids", decrepit piles with tails (of more than one variety), double- and multi- chambered mounds, wall corner mounds, and large pavements. To me this suggests the site was used over a long period of time. Notably missing were the smallest form: the "lazy 9s", boxes, and other 8 foot across varieties. Also missing were the sort of well built "cairns" that one finds up north in a cluster around a spring, or in a group along a trail. I did not see any single rock-on-rock or split-wedged rocks. No propped boulders or prayer seats. So one thing that distinguishes this Hawthorne Brook site is that it is a very "pure" signal.
As you can see from the map, this is an area of little knolls and small brooks. It is very rocky and as soon as you drive in there you think: "man! this is good-for-nothing/perfect-for-rock pile territory". It is not clear how these woods might have been used in colonial times, except the land is too rocky to plow. There were no cedar trees to suggest it might have been an open field, so my guess is that it was a wood lot. It was easy walking throughout, with blueberry bushes between oaks. In any case I think this area saw light land use, because the mounds were more or less un-damaged. Some were more decrepit than others - providing an opportunity to establish chronology.

Here is the story: bd proposed a walk and we met at a conservation land parking lot. He then led me on an hour or so walk where we saw non-stop mounds made from small cobbles and occasional larger rocks. Next to almost each mounds, there were smaller piles on the ground, evenly spaced and  in a row. I call these satellites "marker" piles and often find them in association with larger mounds. The area was also full of stone walls going every which way.

I'll just show the pictures and make a few comments. First we went down into a little valley with low piles hidden in the saplings, then along a trail to this beauty, a rounded pyramid:
It looked over the valley beginning to the right of this picture. Here are the "marker" piles going on up the valley:

And another mound closer to the top of the valley. Note the style is different from the previous mound.
We go up to the corner of the walls. All the mounds seem to lie along the trail.
Then we came to a big rock overlooking a kettle hole. Clearly people know about these mounds. We'll see other evidence later.

Here is another, more like a pavement.

Along the same ridge but on the back slope, this older form, pile backed by outcrop:
In this case the "hollow" is a space between the outcrop and the cobble enclosure.

A typical wall corner:

Another archetypical rounded pyramid:
A perfect example.

After that, we walked out and across the street to another part of the area. I'll put it in a separate post.

Part 2 and Part 3.

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