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very carefully wrapped up in black plastic, so that no light
would expose them, and then one set was sent to Jim in
Washington State. He'll probably analyze them in June or
July [2019]. Hopefully, we'll get a date, which I think will
confirm the date that I already have for the cinder sample.
Are there more cinders still in place up there, do you think?
Because that might be another thing worth doing archaeolog-
ically, pull stuff out so we have the provenience of it and you
could date that.
Yeah, I think that's what I would do. I think very carefully
removing some of the stones--it's about a foot-layer thick
of these small stones and on top of bigger stones that
comprise the structure of this feature.
So that's the heart of the site, the boulder and the terrace.
Plus there is a wall that curves around in front of the
boulder. There's nothing like it. I know of no other site like
this, and I've travelled quite a bit in the Northeast. To me
it's really important, so my main focus has been on that for
the past twenty years.
I explored the rest of the ridge. There were two other sites
on the ridge, south of the main Oley Hills site. They're
smaller, but they're still important. One of them has a
series of small sections of wall linking boulder to boulder.
I have been put in touch with Philip Smith, who wrote
an article for the University of Georgia in 1962 about
indigenous walls in Georgia. He was a graduate student
in anthropology at Harvard University back in the 1950s,
and for two summers he worked with Arthur Kelly, who
was the founder of the Department of Anthropology of
the University of Georgia and was also interested in Indian
stonework. He had Philip Smith do this report on the walls
in Georgia. One of the comments that Philip made at the
end of his report was that the walls seemed to emphasize
outcrops and they linked boulder to boulder. When I heard
that, I thought back to this feature at the Oley Hills site at
the south of the main site, where you have this wall linking
boulder to boulder (Figure 4)
. I've kept that in my mind as
I've been traveling around.
Also, I was interested in the structure of the main cairns
at the Oley Hills site. They're really well made and flat on
top. I kept thinking, well, where else are these cairns with
flat tops? And so I've traveled around. I went to Montville,
Connecticut, and I found some wall sites there that
reminded me of what I found at the Oley Hills site.
How did you know where to go?
People contacted me or I got in touch with them. In
Montville I met a young lawyer, Jon Chase, who's also a
historian. He studied colonial history at the University of
Connecticut. And I have met people over the years, I don't
know how. They all fall together.
It seems whenever I'd run into you, you were always chasing
something down.
There was another Chase that I met, I think unrelated to
Jon, who showed me the Montville complex, an area in
Montville where there are these two unusual stone cham-
bers. At the very top of one, in the center, is a quartz cobble
embedded in the soil. Outside, I found later, there's a stone
circle adjacent to the chamber, a large stone circle about
five feet across.
When you say stone circle, you're talking about just a ring of
Yes, cobble-sized. But they're embedded in the soil to a
certain extent. It's not recently placed on the surface.
My main focus after Oley Hills was trying to find out
where else are these flat-top cairns? I found in Brooklyn,
Connecticut, an incredible flat-top cairn, that's about 45-feet
long in one direction, seven-feet high, not in great shape
(Figure 5). But it's incredible. And there are two other cairns
around there, more or less flat-topped.
When I went up to Vermont, to Rochester, I found a whole slew
of them. But there are more there in Vermont than what you
find in Rochester. I think now that these flat-top cairns were
inspired by the earthen, geometric mounds in Ohio.
There is a geometric earthen mound in Great Barrington,
Massachusetts, next to the Housatonic River. There's a
wonderful LiDAR image, which shows the beautiful shape
of it (Figure 6).
The short way goes west, east. The long way is north,
south. It's thought that this earthen mound was a glacial
Figure 4. A wall links major boulders at the Oley Hills site in
Pennsylvania. Photo by Norman Muller, 2008.
Figure 5. A flat-top cairn in Brooklyn, Connecticut. Photo by
Norman Muller, 2005.