Thursday, October 19, 2017


NEARA 2017 Fall Conference
November 10 - 12, 2017

The Special Rate of $95 per Night
for NEARA Members
Ends Friday October 20th

Make your Reservations NOW!

Radisson Hotel
Providence Airport
2081 Post Rd Warwick RI
For Reservations Call 401-739-3000
(Mention NEARA for the Special Rate)
Hope to see you there!
New England Antiquities Research Association | 140 Sheep Davis Road, Pembroke, NH 03275

Hopkinton's Echo Lake and Rocky Woods

...were first shown to me by Bruce MacAleer. My locations on the map (A, B, C below) are vague but I do not think it matters. There are rock pile sites everywhere in this region, so if you try to get to where I indicated, you'll see rock piles one way or another:
I took photos everywhere and we did not see much quartz, nor any good rectangles with hollows - there were a few possibles. I know that at the northern end of this map fragment, at College Rock and south, there are larger rectangular mounds.
The ladies from Harvard and I took 3 separate loops. At A we were walking in along the upper Charles River, following the southern edge. Around A, I saw a little topography off to the side and went to explore:
We headed north, towards A1 and saw a few things in the lowlands:
 SB commented that this had a lot of structure.
And here is some kind of outline:

Beautiful woods.
This might have been a rectangle with a hollow, but built into a wall:

Here is a form we saw several times: the pile next to a gap:

I'll show other pictures later, from B and C.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dig it

A couple of "darn!"s

Neither turned out to me any more than what was visible in these photos:

It was interesting because usually items are exposed because they have been "washed out" of the soil from rain. They say 3 inches in needed. But here, it is the drought that exposed the items. The soil is so dry and crumbly that harder items show up like this. I found these in a part of the field that is not usually of much interest. But here only a few feet apart are a couple items in exotic materials. Must a been a site. To be honest, when I got home the first item above cleaned up like the base of a large Clovis blade.


 Charity M. Moore and Matthew Victor Weiss
Journal of Ohio Archaeology 4:39-72, 2016
An electronic publication of the Ohio Archaeological Council

Abstract: Rock piles are some of the most ambiguous features encountered in the Upper Ohio Valley, encompassing diverse origins and functions. A single pile can appear to be consistent with multiple interpretations and each interpretation carries implications for how the rock pile is then recorded (or not recorded) and evaluated against the National Register of Historic Places criteria. Building on recent fieldwork at the Bear Knob Rock Piles (46UP342), this article explores historical sources, regional case studies, and archaeological methods that can be used to examine rock features, and calls for the adoption of similar best practices and guidelines at the federal and state levels. Only through a comprehensive, programmatic approach, informed by indigenous knowledge, can archaeologists overcome the ambiguity of rock piles and expand their understanding of the ways people augment and interact with the landscape through the construction of rock features and the material affordances of stone.

Some excerpts:
    “Most other SHPOs across the country also reported dealing with rock features on a relatively regular basis (Table 2), and a small number of archaeologists are actively researching the topic through the compilation of data on known rock features and new excavations (e.g., Holstein 2010; Holstein, Hill, and Little 2004; Loubser and Hudson 2005; Loubser and Frink 2010; Murphy 2004, 2010; Rennie and Lahren 2004). Despite this, our understanding of rock features as a whole has not significantly progressed beyond Kellar's 1960 publication...”

   “... The issues described above have had another unfortunate side effect. In our experience, members of the public who are confronted with the apparent antiquity and visually impressive nature of rock features often become frustrated with their dismissal by professional archaeologists, or by archaeology's failure to explain their origins. As a result they often turn to pseudoarchaeological or mystical explanations. These features' ambiguity creates an ideal situation for theories about extraterrestrials, lost civilizations, and supernatural entities to flourish, as people try to make sense of these landscapes. However, this ambiguity has not stopped many avocational and amateur archaeologists, historians, and other researchers from conducting insightful and thorough research on cairnfields, rock effigy sites, and other stone landscapes. Although some interpretations may not be based on conventional science, history, or archaeology, the many websites, blogs, and articles resulting from this public interest contain a wealth of primary data that are invaluable to the archaeological researcher (e.g., 2006; Waksman 2005, 2015; and see Muller 2009:17). Rather than belittling or alienating non-archaeologists, we should encourage public interest in archaeology and coordinate our efforts to understand the past. In fact, our literature review demonstrates that the most comprehensive, ongoing rock feature research in the northeastern United States is not being conducted by professional archaeologists. The websites and publications of the New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA 2015; see Ballard and Mavor 2006; Holstein 2012; Muller 2009), a group of primarily "amateur" rock feature researchers, and of historian mother-and-son team Mary and James Gage (J. Gage 2014; M. Gage 2015; M. Gage and J. Gage 2009a, 2009b, 2015; J. Gage and M. Gage 2015b) are far more comprehensive than the vast majority of modern archaeological publications. The Gages alone have filed more than 50 rock feature site forms in Rhode Island and Connecticut. The results of such long-term research should not be discounted simply because individuals do not hold academic degrees in archaeology or work in CRM, particularly when these individuals are the ones who try to reach out to professional archaeologists (see Muller 2009). As Mary Gage (personal communication 2016) pointed out, historians are often better qualified to conduct certain aspects of rock pile research, such as analyzing primary documents...”

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.