Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Somewhere on Jones Hill

Near the top of Trapfall Brook - Ashby

A few steps from the road, some fragments of wall coming off the main wall:
A broader view:
I don't know what to make of this. Note the fallen birch log in the background to the right. Here we look back from there:
And that is the end of it. I was going to climb the hill but, seeing as how things were lively down here, I explored downhill a bit and found a definite "mound" a few feet from the wall structure.
We are at the edge of a faint brook. A bit hard to photo with all the debris.
Some other views:
A mound with a hollow, right enough.
 Seems like additional structure around the edges - some "tails" to go with the "hollow".

I should have stayed in the lowlands. Instead, after seeing these structures, I climbed part way up Jones Hill but, as previously, to no great avail.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Stone Prayers: Native American Stone Constructions of the Eastern U.S. and Canada

Where/When: Sat Oct 28 1-3PM , Acton Memorial Library

Scattered through the fields and woodlands of the eastern seaboard of North America are thousands of stone monuments.   These have been the subject of controversy ever since they were first discovered by early European settlers in the 1600s, and they remain controversial to this day.   Some archaeologists claim that they are all the result of European settlers clearing land for farming or grazing; some antiquarians claim that they were built by pre-Columbian voyagers from across the Atlantic; while others consider them to be the work of indigenous people, both before and after European contact.  There have even been claims by some archaeologists that the stones are of natural origin, due to glaciers or downslope erosion.  Recently, the descendant populations of Native Americans have come forward and claimed these as their own sacred sites, as forms of prayers in stone.

This study examines the above four hypotheses quantitatively, in light of a very robust database of 5,550 sites from Georgia to Nova Scotia.  It presents evidence which strongly disconfirms all but the indigenous construction hypothesis for the overwhelming majority of the sites.

The program will be on Saturday, October 28th, from 1 – 3 PM at the Acton Memorial Library, via Woodbury Lane off of Rte 27.  It is free of charge and is open to the public.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

A message from Lisa McLoughlin - from NEARA

(Via Peter Anick):
At the last moment I’ve decided to try to fund Doug Harris visiting and speaking at as many towns as possible. The purpose is two-fold: 1) to give a public educational talk about Indigenous Ceremonial Stone Landscape; 2) to start the education process with historical commissions that might want to start working with the Tribes to create memorandums of understanding to protect their ceremonial stone features. If a talk is funded, I will be sure to specifically invite the historical commission.

I’m looking for people willing to be a point person in their town for a Local Cultural Council grant to bring Doug there to speak. It has to come from a resident of the town, and they’d need to collect a letter from an appropriate venue to submit with the application.

If anyone is up to this short-turn-around-time challenge, please let me know. The deadline for the grant is just over a week from now: October 15th at the latest. Since the grant is written, the main issue is getting a letter from your local library or other free venue that says they’d host the event for free and are ADA accessible.

I’ve attached the grant application, the instructions for how to submit, and a (required) letter from Doug Harris as the speaker. The point person would add the Venue letter, some information of theirs on the application, and submit all by October 15th at the latest.

Thanks for any distribution you can make of this to MA NEARA folk. Looking forward to seeing you at the conference.


Saturday, October 07, 2017


  I know that I've seen numerous posts at Rock Piles about "shadows" such as the ones illustrated here:

    In a video from the National Park Service linked to below, Doug Harris says (describing the stone circle above): "This is a shadow casting stone in an array of stones. Occotoks, as it is called in the Mohegan language. We have not done the ground truthing yet to confirm whether or not the shadow casting is by sunlight or by moonlight, but we have identified that that’s what it is..."
    Additionally, here's another training video I just recently came across from the same Federal organization that recognizes and is meant to protect these National Treasures, Ceremonial Stone Landscapes:

 (Images lifted from the YouTube videos - and possibly from some of the contributors at this blog)

Thursday, October 05, 2017

NEARA Fall Conference November 10 - 12, 2017

NEARA Fall Conference November 10 - 12, 2017
Don't miss the 53rd Annual NEARA Fall Conference in Warwick Rhode Island. Download the Schedule of Events and Register for the meeting below.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

EMC destroys Southboro burial site

In this picture, I would say that square patch of dirt is about exactly the extent of the rock pile site that used to be there - no more no less.
Someone may have wanted to eliminate that threat to free development as soon as they could. I blogged about the site here. I wish I had made a decent map.

On the way to the Archaeology Walk in Cedar Swamp

I took a wrong turn and it was getting late but when I reversed the mistake and headed back in the correct direction, I spotted some dappled light and shadows underneath rocks. What the heck, I parked and took some pictures:
 There seemed to be smaller and messier things, closer to the road:
Another view, a pretty typical rectangular mound with a hollow:
In this view, look at the embrasure on the right:

I hurried back to my car and ended by arriving just as the walk was beginning. It turned out to be a spectacular place, the bit of land jutting into the swamp to the right of the 'H' of Westborough. The light was gorgeous under the yellow leaves of early fall.
The talk itself was "intro to archaeology". We stood in two places in the woods and listened to the speaker read from cards. At the second place, on the only hill around in the swamp, GC and I spotted a bit of stone wall and headed over to investigate. On one side of the stone wall was a large, recently constructed fireplace. On the other side was a circle of stones scattered around, which I interpret as where a rock pile got destroyed to provide rocks for the fireplace. It is natural to wonder about the alignment of the wall.
The 'mound' is about where the cross hair is on the map, adjacent to the Gravel Pit.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

On the way to the top of the Mulpus

As mentioned recently, I made it to the top of the Mulpus. I went in from the west, parking on New Townsend Rd and cutting into the woods. I hit a trail along the side of the hill, followed it south to where I could see the back of a house, then uphill to about where I marked on the map:
Here there was a faint gully with a rock pile greedily taking up the whole space. Some views:
 A few auxiliary smaller piles confirm this is some kind of site.
 This is right next to the trail:

When I got home I tried to mark the spot on my "official" topo maps but it seemed there was already a spot there. But I don't believe it, this was a new place for me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Top of the Mulpus

It is a fine brook going from its start in Willard Brook State Park in Lunenburg, down through Shirley and into the Nashua River in Ayer. I finally got to the high point: a little pond, the valley continued above this little pond but it was dry.

Friday, September 22, 2017

West of Caswell Rd - Fitchburg

I think this hill is called Dean Hill, based on the cemetery signs. This place is a bit featureless but similar enough to other nearby topographies to suggest exploring. There are a couple of brooks on the flat western side of the road I wanted to see and I wanted to walk south to north to get to the top of Laws Brook. I navigated successfully under an overcast sky seeing just one mound at the top of a faint ravine that may be where I marked on the map. I was doing some zig-zaging
So I am walking along and see this:
I did not get good pictures as the light was poor. But here we have it:
The usual thing, as I was writing a couple posts back.
There were one or two smaller piles to the side, across the ravine. Here we are looking back from there:

Overall this site layout reminds me of the layout at the big mound we saw last weekend in Princeton. Namely a larger rectangular mound on one side of a low place and smaller mounds across the way.

A view of the cemetery near where I parked: The Dean Hill Cemetery

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Archaeology Walk at Cedar Swamp

(Via Peter Anick of NEARA)

Sunday, October 1

1:30 - 3:30 PM
Learn about Westborough before the arrival of Europeans in this fascinating exploration of pre-history. Cedar Swamp was used by Native Americans for thousands of years due to its unique location at a crossroads of waterways and trails leading from Canada to all over New England and beyond.

Walk leader Michelle Gross, with degrees in Archaeology and Anthropology, has worked on digs in Cedar Swamp and many other locations in Westborough. We will find out how the evidence uncovered has given us a wonderful picture of Native American life.

Meet at 57 Flanders Rd (where a stature of a lady holds the mailbox). Follow the driveway about 1/2 mile back and take the left fork to a parking area.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mounds in general

They are all over the place. Looking back over past blog posts, I show hundreds and hundreds of the same thing - rectangular, slightly pyramidal, with a depression or "hollow", near the middle. Often with side structure forming a curved around "tail" as an alternative or companion to the "hollow". They vary in size, they vary in height, they vary in decrepitude. But surely it is not my imagination. Why doesn't anyone else report these things?

Also, you know darn well those are burial mounds. Let's not talk about it too much! A truly unique resource, perhaps mostly in New England but we have seen photos from Georgia to New Brunswick showing the same thing. It is incomprehensible to me why these burial mounds are not well know to the archeological community. Get out much? The mounds are all over the place.

If you go back and watch the video of the large mound we just saw in Princeton, there is a moment just after I 'fall in', where some terracing appears - almost like little amphitheater seats. This is the side structure I am talking about above. It is like a "tail" on a grander scale. A screen grab:

Huge mound - Paradise Pond Princeton

If you go into Leominster State Forest from the west on Rocky Pond Rd., Paradise Pond lies to the south on your right. Soon a dirt road appears to your right, called "King Tut Highway" and you can hang a right and head down along the west side of the pond, east of Wolfden Hill. It is my impression from the past that there are small sites all along that western side of the pond - a grassy under-story beneath the trees. This was the place where I did my first "experiments" finding rock piles, before hand by looking at a map, then confirming by going there. I mention it here. I remember driving out with my wife for the first experiment but cannot find the pictures I took - maybe in the "journal" I kept before blogging. Anyway...

Went to show the place to the Ladies from Harvard and we stayed right of the road at the edge of the drop off to the wetland. Here is a huge mound right in there:
SB in the foreground and GC in the background. GC is standing at the top of a ramp. Ignoring additional terracing and structure that you can glimpse in the video (previous post), the side and top views are something like this:

Here is the view from across the way:
Quite a big mound.

And a smaller pile underfoot (when I was taking the above photo):
The small one is very convincing. The first one was a bit of a mess and it almost seemed like a sand pit with this mound comprising its discards. But seeing the second smaller mound eliminates such doubts.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Paradise Pond - Princeton

Lots of stuff on the eastern side. This was not far from "King Tut" Highway, closer to the lowlands.

Friday, September 15, 2017

More west of Lovell Reservoir Fitchburg

A bit south of the first mound group I discussed here and through more than a little bit of raspberry, I came out into clearer spaces with more rock piles. Damaged.
And more particularly:
I was quite taken with the next one, and have panoramas from various angles:
It is a complicated structure - a genuine ruin.
Finally, some are more smeared out than others. It would be interesting to know why.
Quite a busy place, that otherwise inconspicuous bit of map.

Celebrate Hopkinton's "Ceremonial Stone Landscape" on Oct 7

(via the R. Ferrara and Friends of Pine Hawk)

Please join Hopkinton Rhode Island in celebrating the dedication of its Ceremonial Stone Landscape on October 7th. Many of you will remember the team from Hopkinton presenting on this work at our meetings, and their process is a ground-breaking one for future collaborations among us. Congrats Hopkinton!