This new article is an indepth review of the all theories surrounding the standing stone rows, bridge & standing stone structures, stone chambers, and double stone circle. It puts each theory to the test.
South Complex is bordered by a swamp on the east side. On the west side the land drops off at a high steep cliff down into a ravine with a brook. The north and south ends are wooded and have low hills. The middle of the site is inundated with low hills and ledge.
Location: Northeast corner of site beside wetlands / swamp
►Twenty nine standing stones (per row) were erected perpendicular to length of the row (a few are missing, these have been identified by their sockets)
►Gap between stones .8 meters (two and half feet) (Whittall, 1976)
►South row excavation 1993 (several one meter squares were excavated):
There are two stone rows each with approximately twenty nine stones. Although some stones are currently missing they have been accounted for by the sockets. Each row is oriented north. Each row has an elliptical arch or crescent curve. The two rows are in the vicinity of the swamp. North Row is in deteriorated condition. By comparison the South Row is in good condition despite missing a few end stones. This suggests the North Row is much older than the South Row. The South Row has a bird effigy, stone paving, a rubbing stone, and a post hole. The features reveal the stone row was a ceremonial structure. The condition of the stone rows shows the North Row preceded the South Row. In turn, this shows the ceremony was upgraded and rebuilt.
The moon has twenty-nine days in its month. The moon in its early and late stages of waxing and waning has a crescent shape. The stones rows have an elliptical arc – crescent curve and twenty nine stones. There are short stones on the ends and tall stones in the middle correlating to thin pointed ends and a wide middle of a crescent moon.
The winter moon in the northeastern United States has two full moonrises that occur between late November and early January. The winter moonrises occur at the northern most point. That places the moonrise at around 50 degrees (varies slightly) on the northeast horizon. At moonrise where the moon rises over water there are two effects. The author has witnessed the moon’s reflection in the water and a beam (band) of moonlight on the water. The beam of moonlight is consistently there. The reflection was observed once. It occurred in conjunction with low clouds which may have contributed to the reflection preceding the moonbeam.
The row of stones is located on the northeast corner of the site adjacent to the swamp. Swamp indicates water as well as marshy areas. Both stone rows are oriented north. The orientation suggests the direction had symbolic significance. On the east side of the South Row of stones there is a post hole. It was lined with clay and covered by a flat stone. The cover stone may have been to keep it in good working condition or to permanently close the feature. The bird’s head is pointed east. North and east symbolism was used in conjunction with each other. The full winter moonrise occurs in the northeast sky.
Willoughby in his book Antiquities of the New England Indians with Notes on the Ancient Cultures of the Adjacent Territory references ceremonial staffs by Beothuk Indians of Newfoundland. On page 63 he illustrates a staff [post] with a flat half-circle stone on top. The caption reads, “ceremonial staff surmounted by a symbol of the moon.” The caption and drawing came from Shanawdithit, a Beothuk woman living with white people from 1823 to 1829. The staff with the moon symbolism was one of several staffs illustrated, each with a different symbol.
The staff (post) with a symbolically shaped stone correlates with the clay, lined post hole covered by the flat stone.
A bird effigy was pecked into the north side of a tall standing stone and faces east. Pecked effigies represent spirits, in this case, a bird spirit. The effigy is a normal bird not a Thunderbird image. Thunderbird images have a head, body, legs and most have downward pointing wings. Thunderbird images are always in a vertical position. All recognized Thunderbird images are symbolic rather than realistic. This bird image is realistic and has a head and the outline of the upper wing in a horizontal position. In addition, on the west side wing there is an additional curved line in a vertical position. It gives the appearance that the bird is holding up something. The short curved line is similar to a crescent moon.
The bird image translates to the Bird Spirit. Live birds have the ability to fly up to the sky, to and from the earth. In the Native American culture earth is Middleworld and the sky is Upperworld. As viewed from a Native American point of view the Bird Spirit flies between Middleworld and Upperworld.
The moon like the bird had a spirit, the Moon Spirit. The full moonrise on the northeast horizon occurs twice in a year. It would have been looked upon as a special event. What can not be determined is which winter moonrise was celebrated. A light beam across the water connecting with the full moon on the horizon created a physical link between the moon and the bird image on the stone. The arrangement suggests the Bird Spirit with its ability to fly between Middleworld and Upperworld was called upon to carry Moon Spirit from Middleworld up to Upperworld back to the sphere of the physical moon. (The bird faces east, in a row of stones oriented north. The moon rises in the northeast.) What is not known is whether Moon Spirit was called into a ceremony and then returned at the end of the ceremony or whether Moon Spirit was returning to the moon after an extended absence. Extended absences occur with the Sun Spirit when it leaves Upperworld during the winter months.
Location: Approximately 150 feet north of the two stone rows
Two cairns on top of large, low, flat base stones
Cairn #1 - Large stones on perimeter hold smaller stones in place on one side, on other side smaller stones trail down to the ground. The stones are a low mound on top. This is a specific design called On Top Trailing to Ground. Base stone is nearly square. Quartz stones were found on top.
Cairn #2 The stones are on top in a low mound. The design is called On Top. Base stone is elongated and slightly lower to ground than other cairn. Quartz stones were found on top.
The cairn stones are described as, “top portions are deeply eroded, and pitted by the elements. The protected undersides, however are smoothly polished. ‘water washed’ ” (Barron & Mason 1994, 26).
Four cairns on the ground
All four cairns have water worn stones. They are located near the On Stone cairns (see middle photo next to Table of Contents)
Cairn #2 Diameter seven feet by ten inches high, stones sizes 3” up to 12”, quartz stone top
Cairn #3 Diameter nine feet by fourteen inches high, top of center has a lot of 1” – 2” stones, stones sizes 3” up to 12”, one quartz stone off center
Cairn #4 Diameter seven feet five inches by ten inches high, stones sizes 3” up to 12”, quartz stone on top
Three Standing Stone & Bridge Cairns
A 1976 map of the South Complex shows two standing stones and bridge cairn combinations. The third is located in the woods north of the other two. Barron & Mason mention the three but do not show the locations. Photographs were available of two of the three structures.
(1) Standing stone is tall, slightly pointed, and free standing. It is approximately three feet tall. An elongated bar of stone laid horizontally has stones placed on top. Underneath the stone bar there is an opening. This setup was integrated into a stone wall a short distance north of the two cairns on top of base stones.(See bottom photo next to Table of Contents)
(2) Standing stone is tall, slightly pointed, and free standing. It is approximately three feet tall. An elongated bar of stone laid horizontally has stones placed on top. The stone bar is flush with the ground. This setup was integrated into a stone wall the site on the west side of the site.
(3) No visual information is available except that it exists. A causal report located the set in the woods north of the other two sets.
In between the two sets of standing stone & bridge cairns on the east and west sides, there is a hill. Atop the hill is “lengthy vein of mica-quartz which has been quarried in the past.” (Barron & Mason 1994, 28) No metal drill hole marks are visible suggesting the quarrying was done by stone hammers.
The cairns on stone and on ground are each in their own group separate from each other. There are four on ground cairns and two on stone cairns. Both groups are in the vicinity of the stone rows. The author’s notes mention water washed cobbles in the on ground cairns. Obvious pitting and eroding was not noticed. In comparison, the on stone cairns had cobbles which were pitted and eroded on the top side and water washed “smooth” on the bottom side. The comparison suggests the on stone cairns were built earlier than the on ground cairns. The presence of two groups of cairns of differing age suggests the older on stone cairns are associated with the older stone row and the later on ground cairns are associated with later stone row.
The two on ground cairns have different designs. One is on top of the base stone. The other is on top and trails to the ground. These are symbolic differences. One is on the stone only whereas the other is on the stone and touches the earth at the same time. The On Top Trailing to Ground is a specific design found throughout the northeast region. Its purpose is unknown. The fact there are differences suggests the two cairns served two different purposes.
The three standing stone and bridge cairns are spaced out in a triangular formation on the north end of the site. They enclose the north end of the south complex by their layout. One stands out because it has an open space underneath. As the other two are mentioned but not described they do not appear to have any special features. A photograph of one confirms this conclusion. (See drawing based upon photo, labeled “standing stone & Bridge Cairn #2)
Small stones in a mound on a cairn often times represent a stone offering. This can not be confirmed but is probable from the size of the on ground cairns.
The standing stone and bridge cairns have a few large stones across the stone bar. These do not fall into the offering category. These are symbolic structures. One has an open space underneath the stone bar. It is in the vicinity of the stone rows where the Moon Spirit and Bird Spirit are present. Small open spaces in structures, oftentimes indicates a niche and/or spirit portal.
The placement of the standing stone and bridge cairns in a triangular layout on the perimeter of the north end of the south complex suggests the structures were used to block out uninvited spirits from entering the site. Triangle symbolism was used universally throughout the northeast region for this purpose. The triangle layout protected the ceremonial area with the stone rows and the two spirits involved in the ceremonies. The triangle layout is far larger than just the stone row area it also protected another area with stone chambers #1 and #2 where the Sun Spirit was present. More on these chambers, later.
Quartz stones were found on top of the on stone and on ground cairns. At America’s Stonehenge in North Salem, NH quartz was used for protection to block out uninvited spirits in the same manner as triangle symbolism. Another possible usage was to close the cairns. Chamber #2 was closed with a quartz slab quarried at the quartz mine. More on chamber #2, later.
Location southeastern section of site
Chamber # 4 on hillock and collapsed (badly deteriorated). It was built in a natural fissure six feet wide with a level bedrock floor. The chamber has a rectangular shape. East side of chamber is natural ledge with stone walling on top. West side is a single block of stone split off from the ledge which also has stone walling on top. South end was closed-in with a stone wall. North side has a narrow entry on northeast corner. Stone slabs were used for the roof. The roof slabs and part of the walling had collapsed inside the chamber. The entry is oriented north 356 degrees.
Chamber #3 is at the base of an easterly slope and collapsed. An ex-large boulder forms the east side wall. The other sides are dry masonry stone walls curved in a D shape. The roof was made up of three stone slabs. The floor is bedrock. In the bedrock floor there is narrow natural groove. The entry is narrow and is oriented southeast 154 degrees. (See top photo next to Table of Contents)
Chambers #3 & #4 are both located on the southeast end of site and both had roof slabs collapsed inside. Each chamber has an ex-large stone for one wall. Each has simple vertical wall construction. They are separated from each other by a couple hundred feet. Chamber #4 is on a hillock whereas chamber #3 is at the base of a slope. Chamber #4 opens north verses chamber #3 opening southeast.
The difference in location and entry orientation is significant indicating each chamber was used for a different purpose.
The collapsed condition and simple construction places both chambers in the same time period. The deteriorated condition is similar to the north row of stones which is also in a deteriorated condition. There is a high potential, chambers #3 & #4, two cairns on stone and the north stone row were all in existence during the same time period. If so, they likely were used in conjunction with each other.
Chamber #4 had its entry built into the northeast corner on the north end. This may be symbolic. North shows up in both rows of stones which are oriented north. East shows up with the bird’s head turned eastward, and the post hole and paving stones on the east side of the south row of stones. The winter full moonrise occurs on the northeast horizon.
Chamber #3 has a slight possibly of having southeast symbolism. The entry is oriented southeast towards the rising sun on the winter solstice.
Adams House Foundation
Location on east side midway between stone rows and collapsed chambers
The house foundation was built into the side of a hill. It is 25’ by 25’ with a chimney and four rooms. A token dated 1783 was found beneath a stone threshold dating the house. Deed research showed the Adams family owned the house. Excavations 1988-1993 uncovered household items and personal items from men and women. The house was “situated amongst rocky, boulder-strewn ledges, having no apparent potable water source, and built on shallow, untillable soil,”. (Barron & Mason 1994, 17) The house foundation was the only structure. No well or barn foundation was located.
The un-farmable land and lack of barn and water well suggest the site was used simply for habitation without a farm. The excavations found the house was in use for only a few years. House foundations in New England are frequently found within the confines of Native American stone structure sites. This was a common occurrence where by a Euro-American settler built on land previously used for ceremonial purposes by Native Americans.
Located in the southwest section of the south complex
Chamber #1 is a tall rectangular chamber of walk-in height. An ex-large boulder forms the northeast corner and the east side wall of a small attached chamber. When originally found the small chamber had been sealed up and permanently closed. A shaft near the ceiling was built into the southwest end. The shaft channels a beam of sunlight at sunset on the equinox into the chamber where it lands on the entrance to the small chamber. The entrance faces east. On the south side of the entrance the wall extends out a few feet and has a niche near the top and a small groove at the base. The interior walls are vertical on the lower half and corbel on the top half, the roof is made up of seven stone slabs. A soil overlay covers the exterior. On the spring and fall equinoxes at sunset sunlight penetrates the chamber through the shaft and forms a light beam shining on the entrance to the small chamber. Vandals caused the front portion of the chamber to collapse. It was rebuilt by David Stewart-Smith.
Chamber #2 is situated a short distance behind chamber #1. An ex-large boulder makes up the north wall. The walls are vertical on bottom half and slightly corbelled on top half. Four stone slabs made up the roof. The floor is bedrock. The entrance faces east and has a small groove at the base. A large white quartz stone slab quarried from the quartz mine was used to permanently close this chamber. The Guidebook points out all the roof slabs were of garnet bearing granite making the door stone special and intentionally stand out. A soil overlay covers the exterior. The door stone and front roof slab were disturbed when a tree uprooted and exposed the chamber. These two slabs are on the ground beside the chamber.
Chambers #1 and #2 were essentially intact when discovered. Both chamber entrances face east and each have a small groove. Chamber #2 is smaller and lacks the features found in chamber #1. Chamber #1 is a complex structure with a niche, an attached small chamber and shaft permitting sunlight into the chamber at sunset on the equinoxes. Both chambers had been permanently closed.
Location is forty-five feet east of chamber #1’s entrance
Enclosure is formed by an outward slanted short ledge wall on east side and a low stone wall slanted outwards on west side. The slanting creates a V shape. The enclosure has a bedrock floor. The enclosure’s open side faces south. The enclosure is approximately 7’ deep by 7’ wide (open side). In the middle, is a roughly rectangular shaped recumbent stone 5’ long by 4’ wide by 7” thick. There is a boulder next to the recumbent stone at the front. The recumbent stone fills the entire enclosure.
The V shape leaves the front of the enclosure open. The recumbent stone appears to close the enclosure in a similar manner to the closures seen in chambers #1 and #2.
Chambers #1 and #2 with east facing entrances and a small groove in the entrance are symbolically linked and form a unit of two chambers. One chamber lacks features while the other chamber is complex with several features. This indicates the chambers were used for different purposes. Chamber #1 has light shaft on the west side aligned to the setting sun on the equinoxes. Sunlight from the sun brought the Sun Spirit into the small chamber within chamber #1. On the opposite east end in the entrance there is a niche and a small groove. The small groove is too small for any structural usage and furthermore it is only on the south side of both chambers. The small groove appears to be a feature used to make a small perishable offering. Today tobacco is considered sacred and often used to make an offering in the form of ground up tobacco leaves. This type of offering would fit into the small groove. When the chamber was in use perhaps another special plant material was used.
Niches are small boxes used to make an offering, often to a specific spirit to call it forth. East of chamber #1’s entrance is a V shaped enclosure with an open front. The open end faces south because of the slant of the natural ledge and does not face the chamber. It is large enough for people to enter and be inside. The enclosure’s V shape and open front are characteristics found in the Burlington, MA chamber and at America’s Stonehenge. At both sites the open front V was used as an Underworld spirit portal. The V shaped – open front enclosure therefore has the potential to be a spirit portal and at the same time an enclosure used for the sole purpose of calling forth a spirit. The niche at the entrance confirms a spirit was called forth from someplace nearby. The likely place was the V shaped enclosure.
The sun beam carried the Sun Spirit into the interior of the small chamber. The small chamber is a dark cool place representative of the underground i.e. the Underworld. At America’s Stonehenge it was common place for the Underworld Spirit to be called into the sunset ceremonies. In the sunset ceremonies the Sun Spirit entered the Underworld as a guest spirit, hence the presence of the Underworld Spirit, as host spirit.
Calling forth the Underworld Spirit from an exterior spirit portal to enter the chamber from the east side was done so a spirit would enter at each end. The Native Americans who built the chamber were seeking to create balance through different means. First, was by inviting two spirits and second by having each spirit enter the chamber from opposite ends. The idea of two spirits is seen in the south row of stones that embodied the Moon Spirit and Bird Spirit. This was probably also done to create balance. At America’s Stonehenge balance was looked upon as two unrelated ceremonies on the same day, sunset and sunrise (not necessarily on the same day), preparation and main ceremony, and two spirits. Balance is essentially “two” arranged in many different ways.
The south row of stones was in good condition. Chambers #1 and #2 were in good condition. The south row has features and is a complex unit. Chamber #1 has features and is a complex structure. The V enclosure was closed. The post hole was covered by a flat stone. It is not known if the cover was to keep the hole in good condition or to permanently and formally close the post hole. The two chambers were permanently and formally closed. The complex structures, condition and closing of the various structures indicates they were used during the same time period.
The two chambers are associated with each other. Chamber #1 has an associated structure the enclosure on the east side. The use of two structures forms a pattern of two that is enhanced by the two spirit theory. In turn, balance was incorporated into the arrangements. Up on a hill south of chamber #1 is the double circle of stones.
Location is approximately seventy feet northwest of chamber #1
►Two concentric circles of stone:
Discussion / Interpretation
The C-14 date dates the double circle to 455 A.D. This places its building within the Middle Woodland Period of the Native American culture.
The double stone circle is seventy feet north by west of chamber #1. The V enclosure is forty-five feet away. The distances are close. A heavy object was moved around the channel where it rubbed up against the interior walls rubbing and wearing smooth protruding quartz nodes in the granite walls. The rubbing was very limited and suggested limited use of the circle’s channel. No evidence of a central post has been found which rules out the heavy object was a stone wheel as used in various grinding and crushing mills. A large round stone is a heavy object and was the possible object rolled around the channel.
The sun is a round circle as viewed from earth. Its shape never changes unlike the moon with its phases from full circle to crescent. Daily the sun rises on the horizon in the east and circles over head and sets on the horizon in the west. This forms a half circle above the earth. The Sun Spirit was called into the chamber at sunset from the southwest. The double stone circle is slightly northwest and on a hill above the chamber. It is the only hill on the west side close to the chamber and may have been why it was chosen. The sun at sunset sinks in the sky as it sets.
From a symbolic point of view the double circle located on elevated land symbolizes the position of the setting sun. The double circle forms a round circle symbolic of the sun like the stone rows form a crescent shape symbolic of the crescent moon. The circle’s channel permits a stone to be rolled around in a full circle. The sun daily travels in a half circle.
The double circle is technically on the west side, the side of the setting sun. It is only a few feet further away from chamber #1 than the distance of the V enclosure is. The V enclosure and chamber form two parts with the Underworld Spirit on the east side. It was used to call forth the Underworld Spirit over to the chamber. The double circle of stone and chamber form two parts with the Sun Spirit on the west side. It was used to bring the Sun Spirit into the ceremonial area so it too, could be called over to the chamber. The ceremonial area with chambers #1 and #2 follow strict patterns to create two parts so every aspect is in balance. There are two spirits (Sun Spirit and Underworld Spirit), two chambers (#1 & #2), a chamber and enclosure association, and a chamber and stone circle association.
There is a high potential the double circle of stones represents the sun and was used to call the Sun Spirit from Upperworld into the ceremonial area.
A map of the South Complex shows three standing stones in the vicinity of chambers #1 & #2
Standing Stone #1 is on the slope on the north side of chamber #1. It is a large “worked and squared rock (orthostat). The square standing stone was set up on a base of stones and rubble (Barron & Mason, 1994)
Standing Stone #2 is in a stone wall west of the stone circles. A notation under the stone circle states it has fallen. No shape was given. The stone wall extends from near the standing stone #1 out to a drop off at a ledge above a brook.
Standing Stone #3 is marked as being in a stone wall on a ridge north of the stone circle and approximately in the middle of the site. The stone wall goes east and west across the north end. On the west side the stone wall goes out to a drop at a ledge above a brook. On the east side the stone wall goes out to an extension which is oriented south. The south segment has an irregular pattern to its length and ends back at chamber #1 going a slight distance beyond and turning back west.
Standing Stone #4 is marked on the map as being in a stone wall attached to chamber #1 on its south side. Whittall who was meticulous in recording chamber #1 does not show a stone wall attached to the chamber (Whitall 1984). The stone wall and standing stone on the south side appear to be a mistake.
Author feels there are only three standing stones. The stone walls in which the standing stones were erected encloses a large area which has the double circle of stones. If the three standing stone scenario is correct then there is a large triangle formation. The triangle formation enclosing a large area is similar to the three standing stone and bridge cairn structures which form a triangle formation and enclose the north end of the south complex. The standing stone triangle encloses the double circle of stones not the chambers. Triangles in any form block out uninvited spirits.
Located on open sloping bedrock approximately one hundred feet north of the double circle of stones
►Structure is a rectangular layout labeled 37’ 10” feet long by 21’ 8” wide.
The size of the structure indicates it could have been for a house. The square corners are consistent with Euro-American foundations. The west side, a short section of the south side, and north side have finished walls. The rest of the south side and east side have scattered stone along their lengths. The scattered stone appears to be lined up along intended wall lines. When a stone wall is to be built oftentimes piles of stone are lined up along the intended length of the wall. There are large and medium sized stones used to build this structure. The illustration in the Guidebook shows individual large stones mixed in with medium size stones along the fallen or un-built wall lines. The south wall in the illustration does not show adequate quantity of stones to be a fallen or collapsed wall. This reinforces the theory that part of the south side and east side walls were never built to start with.
The Adams dwelling foundation had three small rooms. This house did not have a cellar but was built into a hillside with high stone walls for the back of the house. The front of the house was wooden. The front room of this house measured 6 ½’ by 8’. The size of this room is the same as the small room that is 7’8” (almost 8’) by 6 ½’. A stone threshold was used in the Adams dwelling at the main entrance. The illustration gives the length of the structure as 37’ 10”. The finished north wall actually ends short of that distance by approximately 8’. That potentially shortens the structure to 30’ which is close to the 25’ Adams dwelling.
This is an unfinished structure, a foundation for an intended house. The small room is on the southwest side where the foundation is the tallest, approximately 5’ to 6’high. Small flat stones were used to level the bedrock floor. Barron and Mason suggest the small flat stones were intended to drain water, they were correct. The location of the small room placed it in the cellar, in the deepest part so it would have good height, and on the south side where in winter the room would be kept warmer than the rest of the cellar. The small room with its raised floor for water drainage was intended as an indoor root cellar. Cool in summer and temperate in winter so food would stay cool but not freeze.
Ruin #1 north fifty feet from above structure – unfinished house foundation.
Location west side of site at base of a cliff in a ravine with a brook
►Small enclosure semi-rounded built up against the west side of a glacial erratic
Enclosure is isolated from the other structures by distance and location. It is the only structure in the deep ravine. A brook, symbolic of running water is close by.
The enclosure does not appear to be associated with the site until the “two” pattern is taken into consideration. Chamber # 1 has an enclosure associated with its east entrance and a double circle of stones with the west side. Chamber # 2 does not have any apparent structure associated with it. Although chamber #2 is part of a pair of chambers the other being #1. The small enclosure therefore may have been used in conjunction with chamber #2. This will become more apparent when the North Complex is analyzed.
Stone walls are found throughout the whole site. The walls were laid out in erratic patterns. There are very few straight lengths and only a few square corners. There are no defined patterns to the walls. The purpose is unknown.
One More House Foundation
First, this site has not been thoroughly documented. The author and others in the tour group found undocumented cairns and an undocumented house foundation. Two ruins are marked on the map but nothing has been documented. Standing stones are only partially documented. The site suffers from incomplete documentation. Therefore, this report can only be considered preliminary because of the incomplete documentation. However, the author feels there is sufficient documentation to present the article. It is subject to change if new information comes forward to warrant it.
The two stone rows and associated cairns represent a moon ceremonial area. Chambers #1 and #2, the V enclosure, and double stone circle represent a sun ceremonial area.
Chambers #3 and #4 are separate and possibly constitute a ceremonial area.
The stone rows and chambers show there were two different time periods. Each group has intact and collapsed/deteriorated structures. The stone rows show the moon ceremony was upgraded and relocated nearby. There are two sets of two chambers. The collapsed set is different from the intact set. The two collapsed chambers are separated and have entrances in two distinctly different directions. The two intact chambers both open east, are in close proximity to each other and are linked via a small groove feature. It is unclear if the collapsed chamber #3 had a sun ceremony. Collapsed chamber #4 opens north with a northeast entrance which may be symbolically related to the moon ceremony. The collapsed condition of chambers #3 and #4 place them in the same time period. The intact chambers #1 and #2 place them in another time period. Here again, are two different time periods which match the stone rows. Overall it appears the ceremonies were upgraded and modernized one time after they were originally established. The stone row ceremony had a petroglyph added indicating an upgrade. Chamber #1 is upgraded to a complex structure with multiple features. This is a huge upgrade from the simple chambers of #3 and #4.
The double stone circle was built circa 455 A.D. about fifteen hundred years ago. It is associated with the elaborate chamber #1. The Native American culture who built and used the South Complex reached its peak at this time. It is the height of their building ability and is a grand ceremonial area. Two ceremonies were held here. The Moon ceremony assisted the Moon Spirit in returning to Upperworld. The Sun ceremony assisted Sun Spirit in leaving Upperworld and entering Underworld. Sun Spirit is generally thought to be present in the Upperworld during the warm weather months therefore the fall equinox seems likely to be the day on which the ceremony was held. The Moon Spirit from its location on the northeast corner suggests a full moon moonrise on the horizon which occurs late November up to early January. This makes it a winter ceremony. The moon ceremony is arranged around a moonrise while the sun ceremony is arranged around a sunset. That makes the two ceremonies opposites and creates balance. Balance was critical to maintaining harmony within the natural world.
The 455 A.D. date is the same as the circa 500 A.D. date for the Oracle Chamber at America’s Stonehenge. The Oracle Chamber is a part of a grand arrangement of structures which reached the site’s peak. The circa 500 A.D. date places the peak building period in the middle of the Middle Woodland Period. The peak occurred in southeastern Connecticut and southeastern New Hampshire.
The north end of the North complex is bordered by a high cliff. The north end of the west side is a swamp. The south end of the west side is a high cliff. The south end is a low hill. The north end of east side is bordered by Slag Iron Brook. Further north on the brook is a cliff with a rock shelter. To the east of the cliff is low exposed ledge. The south end of the east side is not designated on the map.
The rock shelter was excavated over the years. It yielded artifacts from present day (late 1980’s) Coke bottles and Navy blanket, Early and Late Woodland pottery shards, Early Woodland projectile points, Archaic projectile points (Susquehanna points). Projected usage ranged from 4,000 years ago through various woodland periods as a shelter up to current day campout.
Location on north end facing the high cliff
►Size not given
This is an enclosued / roofed above ground structure radically different from the chambers which were covered with soil placing them symbolically underground. A single woodland projectile point (Woodland periods span from 3,000 years ago up to 400 years ago) was found in the southeast corner. It potentially represents a pre-contact period artifact that was concurrent with the original building of the lodge. On the opposite north end a 1916 token [coin] was found. The token could be a lost artifact, an offering, or symbolically placed.
The two hearths introduce fire. No habitation artifacts were found suggesting the fire was ceremonial.
The lodge entrance faces north the general direction of the full winter moonrise.
Location northeast corner beyond other structures
►L shaped stone wall attached to an exposed low ledge (long length of wall curves outward, ledge has an indented curve)
Collapsed chambers in the South Complex were confirmed by fallen-in roof slabs. This structure did not have fallen-in roof slabs. Lack of roof slabs places it in the enclosure category.
The enclosure is located some distance from the lodge similar to the enclosure at the base of a cliff in the South Complex which is some distance from the chambers. The carvings are crude and eroded. Much speculation has been made but no confirmed identification has been achieved.
There is a hearth inside the enclosure dated to circa 1820. The 1820 time frame correlates to the time this area was being settled. The Adams dwelling dates to the 1780’s. There are two other known foundations and a fourth that was started but not finished. This fire was built and used by people who either settled or worked building the houses in the area.
The charcoal found outside at the entrance was dated to circa 1370 A.D. This charcoal comes from a fire built by Native Americans in the Late Woodland period. A fire outside the entry of an open-roofed structure suggests it was ceremonial. The lodge also had a ceremonial fire built outside at its entrance. The projectile point inside the lodge suggests a pre-contact Woodland period start up.
The enclosure’s entry faces south. The lodge’s entrance faces north. Opposite directions indicates balance and different purposes. Similar to the pre-contact dated fire at the enclosure.
Location a short distance south on a northern hillside and in sight of the lodge
►Seventeen low cairns (no data on base, presume they were built on the ground)
The cairns exhibit individuality in their shape and type of stone. This suggests individual groups of people built the cairns.
Location of Boat Cairn is a short distance east of lodge
►Elongated cairn narrowing to a point at each end and wide in the middle like the shape of a boat, hence, its name
Location of other cairn is directly north of Boat Cairn and at base of a ledge
►The two cairns are aligned with each other
►Pair on top of ledge north of Boat Cairn
The standing stones are arranged in a narrow triangular layout. The pair of standing stones was erected on top of a ledge. The pair is aligned with the cairn at the base of ledge and the boat cairn. The single standing stone is shown on a map to be south of the boat cairn and cairn field. It is unclear if the single standing stone is aligned perfectly or not. The single standing stone, boat cairn, cairn at base of ledge and pair of standing stones are all aligned North-South.
The triangle of standing stones encloses the cairn field, boat cairn and cairn at base of ledge.
Cairn & Marked Boulder on South End Leading into Ceremonial Area
Location on south side of stone wall oriented east-west that borders cairn field on south (near current trail)
Cairn: Boulder base with four flat stones on top
Marker Boulder: “arrow-like, bas-relief carving which had its narrowest point aimed toward the meeting house location [lodge / north]”
Cairns and Cairn/Basin on Northwest corner Leading into Ceremonial Area
Location on northwest side at base of cliff next to trail leading into the ceremonial area
Two cairns were marked on the map:
Cairn #1 “Cairn on Ledge #7 on map” on north side of trail
Cairn #3 Cairn on a boulder with a few stones on north side of trail
The trail along the base of the cliff is the only way into the ceremonial site on the northwest side. Along its path are three on stone cairns and a fourth cairn or basin/drain feature on top of a boulder covered with flat stones. The feature resembles a cairn but is probably not a cairn because of the basin feature underneath the flat stones. The trail coming in from the south was not explored by the author and therefore only the boulders marked on the map are known. Since the northwest trail had more cairns than noted on the map the actual number of cairns on the south trail is still conjectural. What is noticeable is the northwest trail had a basin feature and the south trail had an arrow feature. Chambers #1 and #2 each had a small groove at the entrance to place an offering. The basin feature appears work in the same way to place an offering. The flat stones covering the basin may have been to protect it or to close it permanently.
Each trail had one or more on stone cairns which differ from the cairns in the cairn field which has seventeen grouped together. This suggests the two trails were original routes into the ceremonial area.
Location at northeast corner at base of ledge in vicinity of cairns on stone
Marks are badly eroded and have lichens, they appear to be initials although that has not been confirmed
House Foundation with Small Closed up Chamber
Location north of cliff and cairns on stone, shown to author by a tour group member
A dry masonry house foundation with a hole in its side wall in the earthen embankment behind the foundation. Inside the hole are the remains of a small corbelled chamber sealed up by dry masonry stoning. When the house was occupied the small chamber was not in use as it was closed off to the cellar. Nothing else is known about the foundation. The chamber is to far away to be a part of the North or South Complexes.
The ceremonial area is enclosed by a narrow triangle and re-enforced by three short triangular stones on top of the boat cairn, all oriented north-south. The triangles indicate spirit(s) were present during a ceremony. Emphasis was placed on the north orientation. This suggests the moon ceremony was relocated and modified. A winter moonrise alignment should be checked for at the pair of standing stones on top of the ledge. There are two ceremonial structures a lodge and an enclosure. Both are above ground suggesting a problem occurred with the Underworld or a major cultural belief change took place regarding the Underworld. This is re-enforced by the fact the sun ceremony is eliminated. The abandonment of the sun ceremony suggests a long term weather problem possibly a prolonged cold spell over several years. The single set of structures represents a single time period. Cairns became an important structure within this complex.
In the South Complex chambers represented the Underworld and enclosures Middleworld. Two sets of chambers one collapsed and the other intact represent two time periods. In the North Complex there is a lodge and an enclosure representing Middleworld and one time period. The lodge appears to replace the chamber while the enclosure is carried over and maintained. This indicates a switch from Underworld and Middleworld ceremonial structures to strictly Middleworld structures.
In the South Complex enclosures were associated with chambers. It is logical to think the lodge is associated with the enclosure. In both complexes at least one enclosure is located a long distance from the chamber or lodge. There is consistency in location of the enclosure. The arrangement re-enforces the idea that the lodge replaced the chambers.
Triangle symbolism in the form of standing stones is carried over from the South Complex to North Complex. North is emphasized in the stone rows in the South Complex and is the main emphasis in the North Complex. This suggests the Moon Ceremony was relocated and modified in the North Complex.
Cairns played a role in both complexes. In the South Complex cairns are located north of the stone rows on a possible trail entering the site. There are two sets 1) two on stone cairns and 2) four on ground cairns. The two sets appear to represent two different time periods. In the North Complex on stone cairns are located on both trails entering the site. In the main area there are seventeen cairns in a group called the cairn field on the south end. The seventeen cairns is an increase from the four on ground cairns in the South Complex. This suggests a possible increase in the number of groups participating. The cairns in the cairn field show individuality through shape and type of stone indicating different groups of people created the cairns.
The South Complex has two separate ceremonial areas 1) row of stones and 2) chambers #1 & #2 plus double circle of stones and enclosures. The different types of structures plus the two areas suggests two ceremonies were held. The South Complex also has two sets of stone rows and two sets of chambers, the second being more grand and complex than the first set. This indicates two time periods in which the ceremony(s) were upgraded. The North Complex has one ceremonial area with structures that appear to be associated with each other. This indicates one ceremony, a downgrade from the previous ceremonial area, and one time period. The one ceremony appears to be the Moon Ceremony (see North Complex). Between the South and North Complexes there were three time periods involved.
The Moon Ceremony was original to this site. It was upgraded during the second time period within the South Complex. Here the culture during the mid Middle Woodland period reached its peak. In the third time period, it is modified, downgraded and moved out of the South Complex to the North Complex, a completely new area without previous stone structures. The new North Complex is totally above ground a radical change from the South Complex which utilized above ground and underground structures. The North Complex breaks with the past and abandons the Underworld and the Sun Ceremony.
The Underworld was regarded as a benevolent and safe place up to the mid Late Woodland period. Something changed because the use of the Underworld was completely abandoned indicated by the elimination of the Sun Ceremony and closing of the chambers in the South Complex. The Sun Ceremony is not re-instated in the North Complex suggesting a possible problem with a prolonged cold spell circa mid Late Woodland period.
The North Complex is somewhat isolated from the surrounding areas with house foundations. A 1916 token at the entrance to the lodge indicates the ceremonial area continued to be used into the 20th century. A remark in the Gungywamp Guidebook notes Native Americans continue to use the site as of 1994, “It is well-known that, even today, a few American Indians do make annual visits to this general area [North Complex], following footpaths through the woods from the northeast and Lantern Hill.”
This section evaluates structures found in sets of two and three. Analysis was based on a comparison of similarities and differences.
Two rows of standing stones:
Same: Twenty nine stones per row
The samilarities suggest the two rows were used for the same type of ceremony. The differences suggest there is a time difference between each row by their physical condition, one being older than the other. One row is plain and the other is decorated suggesting the ceremony became more complex over time.
Four on ground cairns:
Same: All built on ground
Similar: Low, flat, large base stone
The four on ground cairns quantity can be divided by two evenly. It is not known if this is relevant. The two on stone cairns each have a different design suggesting different purposes. The age of the two on stone cairns is the same judging by the pitted tops of the stones. The age of the on ground cairns is the same judging by non-pitted tops of the stones. The pitted topped stones is older than the non-pitted topped stones.
The cairns are in close proximity to the stone rows. One set of cairns is older than the other set of cairns. This correlates with the row of stones, one being older than the other.
Two Collapsed #3 & #4
Two Intact #1 & #2
Same: Open east
Comparison of two sets of chambers
Same: Each set has two chambers
The intact verses collapsed chambers suggests different time periods of use. Plain verse simple suggests a change to a more complex and sophisticated ceremony. Two sets of two chambers (based on #1 & #2) shows repetition of a set of two. Two separate sets relates to the two rows of stones. One set of chambers is collapsed – deteriorated. One row of stones is deteriorated. One set of chambers is intact and in good condition. One row of stones is in good condition.
3 Standing Stone & Bridge Cairns
Same: Tall, column like standing stone
3 Standing Stones
Comparison of two sets of standing stones
Same: Each set has three standing stones
Each set of standing stones has three and is in a triangular formation. There are two sets of standing stones. In this case, one set encloses the whole north end while the other set encloses the double stone circle.
Three tall standing stones
Three short standing on top of a cairn
Same: Triangle shaped
Set of three tall standing stones are aligned on a north-south orientation on the outer edge of the area. The two standing stones on the north end form a pair side by side, combined with the single on the south end, the three standing stones form a narrow triangular formation. The three short standing stones are aligned north-south in a line along the top of a cairn also oriented north-south. In this complex there are two sets of three standing stones. Both sets exhibit triangular symbolism.
Analysis / Interpretation
The structures used in this analysis have common factors: two and three.
Number Two: Represents Two Time Periods
Two rows of stones represent two different time periods
Number Two: Represents the Number Two
Two chambers per set represent the number two irregardless of their individual purposes.
Number Three: Represent the Number Three & Triangle Symbolism
Three standing stones per set are arranged in a triangle formation. This adds the triangle shape to the number three.
Number Two: Represents the Number Two
Two sets of three standing stones, contemporary with each other
Number Three: Represents the Number Three & Triangle Symbolism
Set of three short standing stones have triangular shaped stones
The number two represents two different factors. First the number two represents two different time periods. Second the number two represents itself, the number two. The number three from this study represents the number three and a triangle. The repeated used of two and three representing specific numbers suggests the numbers were used symbolically.
At America’s Stonehenge [Mystery Hill] the number two is represented by two spirits, pairs of standing stones with triangle and rectangle shapes, two ceremonies, and preparation ceremony & main ceremony. Pairs i.e. number two represented balance. Blanace was integrated in other aspects. Triangles & rectangles represented protection in the form of blocking out uninvited spirits. Triangles were universally used throughout the northeast and appear to have the same symbolic meaning / usage.
At Gungywamp the number three is integrated into the triangle and sets of three. Each set of three is repeated in two sets per complex. The number three was used in the Thames River Valley of Connecticut. Example, the Montville Chamber has a set of vertical marks “11 1”. The two and one arrangement is similar to the pair of standing stones and single standing stone in the North Complex. This suggests the number three as a number was symbolic. At Gungywamp the number three and triangle appear to be interchangeable and represent symbolic protection. Protection is seen in the fact the standings stones in three cases enclose structures. The number two when applied to the set of chambers #1 (complex) and #2 (simple) indicating two parts of one ceremony suggests balance. This is re-enforced by the repeated use of two sets of three standing stones in each complex. Two therefore symbolically represents balance. Two representing two time periods is coincidental. Three and the triangle symbolically represent protection by blocking out uninvited spirits.
Barron, David P.
Barron, David P. & Sharon Mason
Whittall, James II
Whittall, James II & David P. Barron
Illustrations are for educational & research purposes only.