Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Mound site 'C' at Quisset Wildlife Management Area

There is a collection of mounds at site 'C', shown on the map here:

This site is on a flat topped promontory, looking north over a wetland. I was passing by on a dirt road and, happened to see one mound, some distance away through the bushes. If there had been foliage or my head had been turned in the wrong direction, I would have missed the place. As it is, it is a well-preserved and self-contained site consisting of three or four good-sized mounds. A few were rectangular with identifiable "hollows". Others were more polyhedral in outline, with signs of internal walls and other structure - less distinct than a simple hollow. The site is not too different from the sites around College Rock and Rocky Woods in northeastern Milford (one town to the north) and also not too different from the Wrentham sites discussed recently here.

Around each mound were boulders and smaller rock piles with vertical sides. I got the impression that every single rock at this site was ceremonial and that nothing was random. I think this is a very worthwhile site to study - it is pure and undisturbed, and an easy ten minute walk from the parking.

I can describe the place chronologically, as I explored it. Or I can describe it in overview. What affected me the most, however, was one small detail involving split-filled rocks. Due to an error, of seeing the same detail in more than one photo and mistaking them for different examples, caused me to think harder about what possible meaning can there be to a split-filled rock next to a burial mound? Let's start with the mound that was next to a split filled rock:
We note the large boulder in front, a common feature of the mounds at this site. But note the split-filled rock in the background to the left. In more detail:
I wondered, more explicitly than usual: what is the significance of such a split rock at a burial site? How could this be involved in the ceremony and what would be the sequence of events? It is a simple structure and there are not too many possibilities. One possibility gives me a bit of a chill: they split the rock before the ceremony and filled it back up afterwards. It is hypothesized that split rocks are a doorway to the underworld. They may (or should) involve the spirit of the rock but, here, they may involve the spirit of the departed as well. It looks like a door was opened at the beginning of the burial and closed at the end of it. Could the split be an escape route for the soul? I am going to look for this feature near other mounds, in the future. So that is my main takeaway from this site.

Let's have a look at the main mounds, in chronological order of discovery. I will show details after. First we have the "main" mound I saw from the path:

Mound 1
(Note the boulder)

Mound 2 (shown above, near split filled rock)

Mound 3

Mound 1: Several smaller piles nearby.

Smaller piles, behind:
Again, note the boulder next to one of them. Some other views of mound 1:

Mound 2: We already saw the adjacent split filled rock. Here is a view back towards this mound, from one of the smaller "satellite" piles:
Some of the "satellite" piles were vertical sided. Others seemed to be more horizontal, with a hint of structure:

Finally, Mound 3:
This seems double chambered with a bit of a tail. Distinctly rectangular. Here is a satellite:
A pretty exciting acre or so, in the woods.


Norman said...

Interesting site, which could be more interesting when the snow now covering the ground is gone.

The split boulder is interesting, and I'm trying to understand how such a large gap could form between the two halves if this were concurrent with the construction of the mounds. There is a similar large gap with a split boulder at a site in Montville, CT, and I think the gap already existed when the stonework surrounding it was constructed.

Might the stone mounds not represent burials?

pwax said...

There are some well defined "hollows" or depressions, leading me to think these had compartments and inner chambers. I assume that *is* for burial.