Finally, under the heading “4.1
Research Questions and Design” Loubser concludes with:
“Straightforward typologies, based
on surface criteria, such as location, size, morphology and layout,
have not always been conclusive or convincing [Loubser then refers to
reports by Garrow (1994) and Gresham (1990) among other authors]…Only
an investigative strategy that involves some kind of sub-surface
sampling can address questions pertaining to the stratigraphic
association, age, physical and chemical makeup, and cultural
affiliation of the rock piles and associated soil
deposits…Stratigraphic association can reveal a lot about the antiquity
of a rock pile, particularly the vertical association between a rock
pile and a plow zone. Plowing is a special perturbation that
effectively homogenizes the included soils…If the bottom of a pile lies
on top of or within a plow zone, then the rock pile is historic in
date. If, however, the rocks penetrate well below the plow zone,
especially into deposits with prehistoric artifacts or charcoal with
prehistoric radiocarbon dates, then the rock pile is most probably
prehistoric in date.”
Written and photographic
documentation of cairns, walls and other unusual and impressive stone
features, in addition to historical research and deed search, should
certainly continue to be done. This is basic to any research, even
archaeological. And, unfortunately, cairns and other man-made stone
features that rest on bedrock or boulders cannot at this time be
accurately dated by any means currently known. But for those cairns and
stone piles that rest on soil, the examples above can serve as a guide
to finally answering who built these perplexing stone features, and
*This article was previously
published in the NEARA Journal,
volume 43 number 1, Summer 2009, p.17
Goodwin, William B. The Ruins of Great Ireland in New England. Boston
Fell, Barry. America B.C.,
NY 1976; Bronze Age America, NY 1982; Saga America, NY 1983.
Williams, Stephen. Fantastic
Archaeology: The Wild Side of North American Prehistory. Philadelphia
Mavor, James W., Jr. and Byron M. Dix. Manitou: The Sacred Landscape
of New England’s Native Civilization. Rochester, VT, 1989.
The author obviously failed
to mention the wall under the drip line
of the Flagg Swamp Rockshelter in Marlborough, Massachusetts, that was
excavated by archaeologists from Harvard University in 1980, who dated
it to 4750 B.P. Unfortunately, it was in the way of a planned off ramp
to a highway, and as John Hanson Mitchell relates in his marvelous book
Ceremonial Time: Fifteen Thousand Years on One Square Mile (New York
1984, 64), “the construction crews returned, holes were drilled in the
rock face, and five thousand years of history was dynamited into
oblivion.” Another omission was the large commemorative Indian stone
pile below Monument Mountain in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, that was
sketched by Ezra Stiles in 1762 (the drawing is reproduced in Eva L.
Butler, “The Bush or Stone Memorial Heaps of Southern New England,”
Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut (April 1946),
2-12). Although the present mound is not thought to be the one drawn by
Stiles, such a large commemorative stone mound belies what the
anonymous author wrote in the statement.
Muller, Norman E. “Accenting the Landscape: Interpreting the Oley
Hills Site,” Chapter 10 of The Archaeology of Semiotics and the Social
Order of Things, George Nash and George Children, eds., BAR
International Series 1833, Oxford 2008, 129-140.
The earliest reference to the wall was made by George White,
Statistics of the State of Georgia, Savannah, 1849, 442. This is also
mentioned in P.E. Smith, “Aboriginal Stone Constructions in the
Southern Piedmont,” University of Georgia Laboratory of Archaeology
Series, Report No. 4, Part II, Athens, Georgia, 1962, 10.
The article is found online at
Fish, Suzanne K, Paul R. Fish and Richard W. Jeffries. “An
Examination of Interfluvial Settlement in the Georgia Southern
Piedmont: The Georgia Power Company Plant Scherer Archaeological
Survey,” University of Georgia Laboratory of Archaeology Series Report
No. 15, (1978). Available online at
Jeffries, Richard W. and Paul R. Fish. “Investigation of Two
Mound Localities, Monroe County, Georgia,” University of Georgia
Laboratory of Archaeology Series Report No. 17 (1978). Available online
As in n6, 36.
Thomas H. “Historic Patterns of Rock Piling and the Rock
Pile Problem,” Early Georgia 18 (1989), 1-40. Available online at
Garrow, Patrick H. and David W. Chase. Archaeological
of Two Stone Mound Complexes in Gwinnett County, Georgia, 75 page
report published under the auspices of Garrow & Associates, Inc.,
Atlanta, Georgia (1988).
Gresham (as in n.9), 24-25.
Garrow, Patrick H. Archaeological Investigations at the Headwaters
of the Apalochee River: An Intensive Survey of the Dacula Tract,
Gwinnett County, Georgia. Garrow & Associates, Inc., June 1990.
Garrow, P.H., The Gwinnett Stone Mounds. 31 page report published under
the auspices of Garrow & Associates, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia (1994).
This controversy was also briefly discussed in N. Muller’s “The Cairns
in Our Midst: Historic or Prehistoric,” NEARA
Journal, 37 (2), Winter 2003, 7-8.
Gresham, Thomas H. Archaeological Investigations of the Strickland
Tract, Gwinnett County, Georgia, Report prepared for Braden &
Associates, Norcross, Georgia, by Southeastern Archaeological Services,
Inc., Athens, Georgia (1994), 39pp.; Gresham, T.H. Research Design for
Determining if Graves are Present on the Braden Tract, Gwinnett County,
Georgia. Submitted to Braden & Associates, Inc., One Meca Way,
Norcross, Georgia 30093, November 21, 1994 by Southeastern
Archaeological Services, Inc., Athens, Georgia.
Loubser, J.H.N. and T.G. Grenier. The Archaeological Testing of
Stone Features at 9Un367, New South Associates, Stone Mountain,
Georgia. Report Submitted to Georgia Forest Watch, Track Rock Gap (2002)
Ibid, 6. Oxidizable Carbon Ratio dating
was done by Douglas Frink of
the Archaeology Consulting Team of Essex, Vermont. The laboratory has
been disbanded and OCR dating is no longer being done.
Ledbetter, Jerald. Archaeological and Historical Investigations of
the Georgia Pacific & Hardin Tracts, Greene County, Georgia,
Prepared for Reynolds Plantation, Greensboro, Georgia by Southeastern
Archaeological Services, Inc. (2005).
Ledbetter, Jerald, K.T. Burns, T.G. Gresham, Scott
Leigh, W.G. Moffat and L.D. O’Steen. Archaeological and Historical
Investigations of the Georgia Pacific & Hardin Tracts, Greene
County, Georgia (with Addendum). Southeastern Archaeological Services,
Inc. Athens. Prepared for Reynolds Plantation, Greensboro, Georgia
Loubser, Johannes, S. Butler and J. Page. Data Recovery at Site
9GE2084: The 19 Rock Pile Site. Greene County, Georgia, Brodington and
Associates Report submitted to Reynolds Plantation LLC, Greensboro,