Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rock pile with a hollow

I had a little bit of free time to explore in an area where I've been before. I went off in a different direction, however, to expand upon what I've already seen.

Not surprisingly, I found row cairns with some very interesting features. My thoughts about who constructed them and for what purpose were obscured by a few things.

Niches or fence rail holes?This one is complete with wood fence rails still in place, but what's with that red rock?
Manitou stones or just plain old field clearing stones that settled out in that funny position?
Rock piles on boulders: Native American or a settler finding the best way to consolidate field clearing stone?
And, why on earth would someone build a cairn at the end of a stone wall? Two views:Given, the stone wall probably went in after the row cairns, but still, why not incorporate the cairn into the wall?

This piqued my interest more than the others. It's short stretches of stone row above an outcrop. Ahhhh....something I can relate to (the outcrop is just off to the left):
Just below that outcrop, but above and between the row piles and stone wall, I found these interesting rock piles. Best described as two large rock piles and one cairn, here are some photos. This first is the most telling. It is a rock pile with a hollow and, dare I say, there is an opening that faces directly toward the cairn in the background. Click on the image for a better view:
Here is the second rock pile near the cairn. I did not see a hollow in this pile, but it is relatively equidistant from the cairn, but in a different direction:
A close up of the cairn:
I found a nice old foundation nearby, which I will probably post later on, but I am not convinced that the rows along the outcrop and the cairn near the rock piles (one with hollow) are related to the foundation and farm. My reasoning is that, if you look at the stones in the cairn near the rock piles (photo above), besides the fact that they are not in any row for fence purposes, the cairn also contains very small stones similar to those found a the Ludlow Creek site. If agrarian, what would be the purpose of this cairn?

Finally, this picture of one of the "fence post cairns" wins honorable mention. I think the snow does a nice job of framing it, naturally:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The American journal of science

Link to book: The American journal of science, Vol. VII, 1823-1824.

Page 150: "While the people of Europe boast their descent from the Goths, the Celts, and a hundred other barbarous tribes which the page of history has immortalized; the natives of America are considered as "novi homines," because their existence can be traced only during two or three centuries of years. It is the duty of Americans to refute this groundless accusation, and at the same time fill up a chasm in the early history of their country; this may be effected by calling their attention to the rude stone monuments with which their country abounds, although they have hitherto escaped their notice, or been passed over as unworthy of regard."

Here's another quote, page 158: "Surely the land has been acquired cheap enough from its aboriginal possessors, and humanity might dictate that their tumuli, their mounds, their camps, their altars, and the bones of their warriors should be allowed to rest in peace."

The entire section, page 150 through 161 is fascinating. The essay discusses cromlechs, stones of memorial or sacrifice, circles of memorial, rocking stones, and tumuli or barrows. Although I don't necessarily agree with the author's determination: that these constructions "prove that a nation of Celtic origin once inhabited this continent" [emphasis added], I do agree with the author's conclusion:

"Before I close this essay, may I be allowed to say one word to plead for the preservation of these monuments, which should be to all Americans a subject of the most anxious care.

In other climes, superstition and despotism have contributed to the overthrow of many a noble Celtic monument, but in this land of freedom, it would be well, if legislative power, or better still, if public opinion would throw its shield around these remains, and protect the last monuments of a former race. Americans should consider that one of these cromlechs or Cairns, does more to elucidate the history of their native country, than the learning of Robertson, or the genius of Buffon."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Flock and pack tracks

Not exactly rock pile related, but both were found among stone row rock piles. Can you guess what made the disturbance (flock or pack)?


Here are the answers.

One, turkey:
Two, coyote:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Horsestable Rock

Time travel Tuesday. This is not located in my neck of the woods, but it's not too far from my old stomping ground. I'd love to find this place. From "The Indians of Greater New York and the Lower Hudson, Volumes 3-4", edited by Clark Wissler:

"As already stated Horsestable Rock is by far the largest rock-shelter for a radius of many miles. Its roof inclines backward, showing along its outermost edge an elevation above the floor of from nine to twelve feet. As it does not slant all the way down, but joins the vertical back wall at an average height of four feet above the floor, one can stand upright in nearly all parts of the shelter. The covered space has a frontage of seventy feet and a uniform width of fifteen feet. At the extreme right there is an additional protection in the shape of a protruding rock with adjoining embankment. Near the extreme left water trickles through a crevice on the inner wall, collecting in a natural basin which is always filled, except during periods of great drouth. The floor slopes in a gentle curve from either side towards the centre, the depression not exceeding three feet. Within this hollow space, which, indeed, appeared almost level, there were found deposited two boulders of about equal size and weighing at least two thousand pounds each. They were placed close together so as to form an acute angle and this position suggested at once the site of a fireplace, a supposition borne out afterwards by the remains there discovered. Apart from its great size, Horsestable Rock is remarkable, in that it can draw on a threefold water supply. First, there is the swamp in front; second, the water oozing through fissures on the inner wall of the shelter; and last, a spring at the head of swamp north of the rock and less than a hundred meters distant. While the first-named sources generally dry up during midsummer, the spring is always filled with an abundance of ice-cold water."

Link to the book on Google books is here on page 161.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Meridianal Lines

From "Bulletin of the New York State Museum", Issues 32-34:

"'A boundary line would seem at first to be a difficult problem in Indian geography. But a peculiar custom of our predecessors has divested this subject of much of its embarrassment, and enabled us to ascertain with considerable certainty the territorial limits of the nations of the league. The Iroquois rejected all natural boundaries, and substituted meridianal lines. This appears to have resulted from the custom of establishing themselves upon both banks of the streams upon which they resided. . . Inland lakes were never divided by a boundary line; but the line itself was so deflected, that the entire circuit of each lake might be possessed by a single nation. The natural limits which rivers and lakes might furnish having been thus disregarded, and straight lines substituted, the inquiry is freed from some of its difficulties.'" [emphasis added]

Link to the Google book is here: Bulletin of the New York State Museum, February, 1900