Saturday, December 16, 2017

Quartz Head - Harvard MA

Depending on the light this is either scary or invisible:
The face is pretty easy to see and, because it was carefully held in place by a shim, I think this is deliberate.

Southern part of East Woods, Boylston

Boy! Three weeks go bye and I cannot remember where I took the pictures. Ah yes! An undistinguished "ridge line" site in Boylston, which could be a pathway, or perhaps a marker pile site. It was a great deal like a site in North Andover - where there was a distinct feel of a pathway up from the water. As I review the pictures, I see there was a path way down to the water (cuz I started at the top).
A few pictures. Crossing a couple small ridges, I spot piles:

Up close on the ridge:

Then over and down
Heading down this way:
To a house foundation:
That was down to the western part (of the lower blue outline on the map) over by the water and, presumably, access to the site on the ridge.
Heading back a little further east, a standing stone:

I could believe this was a property boundary.
Then a bit further east, following the little brook to the north, not sure exactly where. Saw some interesting stonework in the wall:
 Closer, a weird culvert:

And a few decrepit mounds:

Barely recalled.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Concord's Finest

Over Thanskgiving I got to take a walk with my son, here in Concord. Well this is Estabrook Woods and south of Boaz Brown's cellar hole - if you know where that is. I have blogged these places before but wanted to show my son some of the things in our home town. Some random shots:

If you love Concord, you'll wonder: where is that? I want to check it out. Well go downhill and right from Boaz Browns.
For what it is worth, Boaz Brown must have been a strange fellow. History records him as having married into one of the better-known Concord families but does not explain the proliferation of rock piles, mounds, short stone walls, etc. that surround the otherwise inconspicuous colonial cellar hole - remnants of Boaz's house.

A little east of Boaz Brown's on the south shoulder of the same landform, are my favorite pair of mounds in Concord. Rectangle's with hollows:
Note the identical architecture, with a "hollow" spilling out to the side like an 'entrance'.

Where there are burials for the aristocrats one also expects to see a burial for the common man:

And there is this famous "turtle" shell. Norman and I remember standing there with Steve Ells.
That was a while ago, and now I leave it to the younger generation to re-explore these places.

Friday, December 08, 2017

A reader question about Gungywump

[If anyone has the answer, let me know or leave a comment, and I will forward the answer.]

Do you know if the “local” nature center that Ted Hendrikson writes off still offers any guided walks?

I had tried to reach Vance Tiede via email as well through this name of his “business” but had no luck    :  (

Thank you in advance for any info you can provide.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

NEARA and Sudbury Valley Trustees Fieldtrips - from Peter Anick

[Non NEARA members should consider going along and contacting the MA coordinator]

Given the latest weather report, we'll have to postpone our planned trip to Shutesbury/Montague.  My current thinking is to wait till late February/early March, which will also give us a few more hours of sunlight.  Lots to see in that area. [check weather also on Dec 21]

Dec 17
Last year after a drought, a pond in Westford revealed an odd circular stone construction.  It looks like the pond should soon be dry enough to allow a visit, so we’re going to try on Sunday, Dec. 17.  The discoverer of the site will be on hand to discuss what the Indians and archaeologists who visited thought of it and then we’ll head over to the Westford Museum afterwards to see a video of the Indian account.  (There’s also a display there on the Westford Knight which you can check out.)    

The pond portion will involve about a ten minute walk over what may be a muddy trail, so plan on bringing boots.  If you would like to join us for the afternoon, please send a reply to this email and include your name and email in the text.  Details will be sent to participants early that week.  If the weather turns wet, we may have to postpone.

Dec 21
Neara member George Krusen will be hosting a solstice sunrise alignment viewing at a site in Boxboro on Dec. 21.  This event is sponsored by the Sudbury Valley Trustees, who manage the property.  I have been to this event several times over the years and have always enjoyed it, especially if the sky is clear.

Description: View the winter solstice sunrise through the stone structures at Half Moon Meadow Brook, and hear the legends of their origins from leader George Krusen. The sunlight bores through the stones for a magnificent viewing.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Photos from NEARA Fall Conference in Warwick RI

[I do not have a link.]

[There is one photo of a stone wall ending in a small circle. I have seen this pattern in many places but never so clearly.]

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Concord Female Effigy Rock Pile

The mortar stone on Virginia Rd in Concord

I want to say it was a happy visit, but the m'f''ing developer not only broke his promise to the town and killed the hill's profile, he also built another building and destroyed the female effigy rock pile that got me started on this whole business.

Traces of ceremony, bits of quartz, a moose skull, etc. Pearl Brook SF

Some walks are dull and you find nothing. Some are exciting and you go home with a sense of weirdness that stays with you, in images, for several days. Still other walks are a bit dull because you find the kinds of things that are expected - so you go home satisfied but not particularly enthused.

Let me tell you about a walk that was dull but where I came home with a sense of weirdness. I saw little but it was unique. Here is the map:
I was following the brook, just to be systematic, and came to a boulder with a few fragments of quartz, next to a small gurgling cascade (at A). The video here.

Let's take a closer look at the boulder:

Rock-on-rock next to a brook, at a place like this, is reasonably common. But the use of quartz is very unusual. It looks like a little creature of some kind. Perhaps a fish.

After this, we continue up the brook and crest out on the top of the slope. I say to myself: "this is where I would expect to see rock piles" but am distracted from this thought by seeing a basin built into the brook (at B):
 There is a little sluice-way and, yes, that is a piece of quartz next to it.
 Looking upstream, there is another larger "quartz" rock above:
Looking downstream towards the basin.:
This "basin" is a curious structure. Not like a dam. Never saw anything like it. I note the bent tree is placed just right for standing or sitting over the basin.

Then I slogged across and up the hill - a dull traverse during which (I learned later) I was being observed by camouflaged hunters [I wonder, did they have me in their sights?].

I topped a ridge, was kinda heading back, and crossed over to the next ridge. Pausing to look back towards the first ridge (at C) I noticed something else that is unusual:
Do you see it? You'll have to right-click and open in a new tab to see it: a pair of rocks propping open the cliff. You see split wedged rocks but you do not see split wedged cliffs.

So I headed over there and stepped on a moose skull.

About Animal Skulls At Rock Pile Sites
Rock pile sites are not that common in the woods. I have seen around 800 of them. At the same time, animal skulls are even rarer. I find antlers not infrequently but only have found skulls four times in 20 years. Three of them were at rock pile sites.

So here is a moose skull.

I do not know if this was a male or female moose. If male, and the antlers were buried, this would be the same resting position as that of a deer skull I found at another rock pile site. I tried to move the moose skull with my foot but it was firmly attached to the ground. So how could such a large beast die, after sticking its antlers into the soil? Leaving no traces of other bones?

 Another time I found a pig skull at a rock pile site, not too far from a working farm. With both tusks intact, I collected it. Wait, there is a picture somewhere. Here is a link to the pig skull.

At least 3 out of 4 skulls being found at a rock pile site is quite a coincidence. Make of it what you will.

(Back to the cliff) I continued across the way:
Now you can see those two rocks inside the split. You don't usually see cliffs embellished this way. Closer:
[You can almost hear the wind rustling the beech leaves]

More quartz. Also a number of smaller rocks.

So then I head off downhill and note a small rock-on-rock - a bit like a turtle:
 View back towards the cliff:
You can just make out the split with quartz rocks in the upper right on this photo. The "turtle" is in the foreground.

So that is it. Very faint traces of ceremonialism. I would say these constructions look recent. I don't know if an animal skull would be used in a ceremony but such items dissolve quickly in our New England woods. That moose did not die long ago, maybe 15 years? And this is what I mean by "traces of ceremony": like delicate touches of a paintbrush, these small quartz structures appear and I have never seen anything like them. It left a faint sense of weirdness.

Back at the cars, I should have asked those hunters more questions. They said "we saw you storm by".

Monday, November 27, 2017

Exploring satellite images of the desert

Someone reminded me, and it is so addictive.  How 'bout this:
Here we are in as remote a spot as I can find in the Sahara, SE of a town called "Wath" on the Lybian-Chad border. Zoom in and tell me: could that possibly be natural?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

December Field Trips - MA NEARA

From Peter Anick:
Nice to see many of you at the Fall conference.  Hope you all had a chance to renew friendships and catch up on fellow members’ activities.

This time of year, one of the things we NEARA members are always thankful for is the disappearance of foliage, which makes it so much easier to find things in the woods.  Let’s take advantage of the better viewing conditions with a field trip on Saturday December 9 (rain date Dec. 10). 

The trip will be divided into two sections, and you are welcome to attend just the first, the second, or both:

Part 1: 9:30 – 12:30 Shutesbury.  Led by Rolf Cachat-Schilling.
At Pashpishont Mâunumúetash (“Where it breaks forth” Prayer Gathtering Places) remains a large cluster of prayer sites, some partly distrubed by recent construction, and some rather intact.  Several of the stone prayer groups consist of kodtonquagash (elevated stone groups), while others are clusters of winohketash (mounds), with a large effigy/astronomical observation feature (tûnuppasuonk kodtonquag).  There are some sacred relics stranded in a matrix of pavement and housing.  Across the road are different prayer relics, anógquéu kodtonquagash (concentric ground stone groupings), another observation point and mounds.  Uphill on steep ground lies a prayer group with both typical and unusual elements, which views sunrise in the valley below while having a neat ridgeline for observation of the sky south and west.  If time permits, other mâunumúetash can be included in the visit.  This entire group of prayer sites responds to the return on spring in the form of sunrise and the gathering of waters into a fertile valley.  Other clusters in Sanàkkômuk (Shutesbury), while sharing elements and ceremonies, respond to other events in the celestial-cultural cycle.

Part 2: 1:00 – 4:00 Montague.  Led by Peter Anick
Some years back we held a conference field trip to an area of Montague rich in unusual and carefully constructed stone works.  According to oral history, Indians continued to camp in the area well into historic times.  In addition to viewing some of the stone features, we plan to do some research at a local cemetery in the woods nearby.  We will be looking for evidence of several Indian graves associated with the oral history which (if we are lucky) may give us a date when they were here.   The trip will involve a couple of miles of walking through woods (mostly on trails without too much elevation) to get to sites.

To join the trip, respond to this email with the following information:

Email contact:
Part(s) of trip you plan to join: (part 1,part 2, or both)

Information about meeting places and further details will be sent out once we know the number of attendees.

Hope to see you!

UPDATEField trip date has been moved to SUNDAY, DEC. 10.  

I have just learned that it will be hunting season in Montague.  So in order to avoid any risks from hunters, we'll go on Sunday (hunting prohibited) rather than Saturday.  Hopefully, those who have replied can still make it! 

For those of you doing exploring on your own this season, please remember to wear orange to be more visible, and don't bring a dog.

- Peter

Monday, November 20, 2017

Quartz by a brook

Can't get the dramatic voice straight but for what it is worth:

On my way out to explore - self portrait

I don't mean to be too vain. If anyone else wants to send a photo, please do. I would be glad to post it so we can see what you look like - now that you have aged a bit more :) This is how I look on the way out the door: