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The large cairn on top of the knoll measured 5m wide by 6.3m long by 1.9m high (16.4’ x 10.6’ x 6.2’) and was distinguished by having a large, round quartz cobble placed directly in the middle of the north face (Fig. 11).  This was no accident, and the use of quartz here and in other features on the site implies a cultural significance quite apart from any Colonial or European association (Muller 2007b).  At the southwest corner of the cairn was an extension or ‘tail,’ about six feet long, that ended at a large horizontal stone slab (Fig. 12).  
Fig 11
Fig. 11
Fig 12
Fig.12

Both of these distinguishing characteristics are also found in a large cairn in South Newfane, Vermont, where a large quartz cobble had been placed in the north face of the cairn (Fig. 13), and at the southwest end was a wall-like extension about eight feet long (Fig. 14).
Fig 13
Fig.13
Fig 14
Fig.14

 Similarly, more than 200 miles to the south, at the Oley Hills site, is Platform B (Fig. 15), a large stone platform with a terrace-like extension at the north end that ended at some large boulders, from above looking like the curved tail of a scorpion (Fig. 16).  The similar morphology among these three examples is more than a coincidence, I believe, and reflects a widespread cultural and architectural response to the landscape.   

Fig.15
Fig.15
Fig 16
Fig. 16

 We had seen most of the major features at the site, but I felt we were just scratching the surface.  Several of the others wanted to see the chamber about a quarter mile away, but I wanted to explore more around the large cairn.  Before we split, a few of us walked down the slope to the west from the large quartz accented cairn, where we encountered a handful of other manmade features.  One of them was a low rectangular construction with several quartz pieces on top (Fig. 17).  And further to the south on the same slope was an impressive horizontal cairn on the edge of a rock outcrop (Fig. 18). 

Fig 17
Fig. 17
Fig 18
Fig.18

This reminded me of two similar constructions I had seen before:  one at the Smith site in Rochester which traced the edge of a curved outcrop, and was accented by a quartz cobble on top (Fig. 19); and the other was at a site in the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania, where two careful constructions were placed on either side of a large boulder (Fig. 20).  The one in Stockbridge did not have any quartz that I could see, but it seemed to have the same function as the others noted above in that it simply defined and accented the rock outcrop (Fig. 21).

Fig 19
Fig. 19
Fig 20
Fig. 20
Fig 21
Fig. 21

 Walking back to my car, I looked for another large cairn in the woods that I had seen several years previously, and I eventually found it obscured by a thick tangle of briers and brush in a dense pine grove (Fig. 22).  This cairn measured 5.3m long by 2.7m wide by 1.3m high (17.3’ x 8.8’ x 4.2’) and it had quartz cobbles intentionally clustered in the southeast corner (Fig. 23).  

Fig 22
Fig. 22
Fig 23
Fig. 23

 Cairns were placed at a site for a reason.  In some cases, and with patience, one can discover what attracted the cairn builders in the first place.  Often it was some natural feature in the landscape that had phenomenal attributes, such as the limestone outcrop at the Peterborough, Ontario, petroglyph site, where the limestone is fissured and water can be heard flowing underneath (Vastokas and Vastokas 1973: 49). At a site in Hackettstown, New Jersey, it was a beautiful waterfall that must have attracted the builders of the six or seven large barrel-shaped cairns.  At a large cairn site in Hallstead, Pennsylvania, it was a ritualized spring (Fig. 24) enhanced with two lintels and support stones, that seemingly provided the impetus for the construction of more than 100 large and beautifully constructed cairns (Fig. 25).  At the Oley Hills site in Pennsylvania the focus was a large erratic-looking boulder (Muller 1999.  See also Fig. A, above), and at the Smith site in Rochester, it seems that the prevalence of springs and the east facing slope were the main reasons why 150 plus stone cairns and other manmade stone features were placed there (Muller 2007b).  These are some of the most obvious examples.

Fig 24
Fig. 24
Fig 25
Fig 25

 But the Stockbridge site does not easily reveal its secrets.  It, like many other sites, probably started with the construction of one cairn in response to some distinctive natural feature or a phenomenal characteristic in the landscape, but that has yet to be found.  Over a period of time, other stone constructions were added, so that like the skin of an onion, these added elements obscure the original core.  By determining the extent of the site, and by approaching it from different directions at different times of the year, the single feature or characteristic that stimulated all this attention might eventually be discovered.

 

References

 Muller, N.E., “Early Stone Cairns and Rows in Eastern Pennsylvania,” 1998. 

 Muller, N.E., “Stone Rows & Boulders: A Comparative Study.”  1999. 

 Muller, N.E., “Vermont Platform Cairns,” 2003.

 Muller, N.E., “Delaware Water Gap,” 2007a. 

 Muller, N.E., “An Unusual Crescent-Shaped Cairn and the Significance of Quartz,” 2007b.

 Muller, N.E., “Fahnestock Memorial State Park,” 2007c.  

 Vastokas, Joan M. and Roman K.Vastokas, Sacred Art of the Algonkians: A Study of the Peterborough Petroglyphs, Peterborough (Ontario), 1973.

 Wessels, Tom, Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England, Woodstock (VT), 1997.
 
  Photo Credits

 All illustrations are by the auther except for the following:
 Figure 3 is by Dave Lacy and Figures 24 and 25 were supplied by Brian Morganti



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Copyright © 2007 by Norman E. Muller