Interviewer: Michael Nobel Kline
Place of Interview: Concord Free Public Library
Transcriptionist: Carrie N. Kline
Peter Waksman: But if I clarify something as I'm telling the story—.
Michael Kline: Okay. This is Michael and Carrie Kline here in the Concord Free Public Library Board Room. It's the 24th of May, beautiful day outside. And would you please say, "My name is and tell us your full name?"
Peter Waksman: My name is Peter Waksman [Pronouced Woksman], W-A-K-S-M-A-N. And--.
MK: Woops. We're not getting any signal there.
Carrie Kline: Looks like it.
MK: Test. Say it again. My name is Peter Waksman. W-A-K-S-M-A-N.
MK: All right.
PW: You want to just--?
MK: And your date of birth?
PW: 12-27-1952. Do we think that's working now?
PW: OK. You probably don't want to hold that [micro[hone] the whole time.
PW: You don't want to hold that the whole time, do you?
MK: Yeah. I'll hold it the whole time.
PW: All right.
MK: I have specially-developed muscles for--.
PW: That's good, because I don't think I'd want to hold it for that long. So, I'm going to tell you who I am.
MK: Tell--. Why don't you start out, tell us about your people and where you were raised.
PW: I'm going to do that.
MK: All right. Good.
PW: That's part of my--. That's the first thing I'm going to tell you.
PW: But the reason I'm here is because I'm a local expert on the archeology of Concord. I'm a person who gets out and walks around, and I know what's on the surface here. In this generation I am that expert. There has been one for each generation going back for quite a number of years, but today it's me. So I think that's why I'm here, and I'll put some context around that.
PW: And I'm going to tell you about arrowheads, and I'm going to tell you about rock piles. Those are the two parts of the story that I want to leave behind, if I may. So. Who am I? I'm--. My name's Peter Waksman. I grew up as a child in Lexington. And Lexington's the next town over. We would come to Concord to go canoeing at the Great Meadows, and I think for some of the parades and things around Patriot's Day. So I remember, for example, the penny candy store up at the, at what became The Nature Company and now it has become a faceless boutique. I remember the tri-corn hats in the parade and buying raccoon tails so that we could be like Swamp Fox, you know, the Disney Show. We thought that was cool. And we came to Concord and we paddled around, and we looked at the turtles and herons and the ducks. And I remember the cage with the otters in it beside the river. But I'm sure a lot of other people remember those things too. I remember skating on the river when I was a kid. But then we moved away. I came back. I have a background--. I have a Ph.D in mathematics, and I work in the technology area. We came to Concord. I got a job in West Concord a few years after I was married, and we've been living--. First we lived in Acton, then the housing market dropped, and it was briefly possible to get into Concord. And we did while we could, and we've been poor ever since. It's an expensive town to live in. I live in the poorer parts out along Route 62, on the way to Bedford. But nevertheless it's my town. I know things about the town that nobody else knows. So I know some of the secrets, which I hope to tell you.
This thing [the microphone] is disturbing. It's distracting me.
MK: I'm sorry.
PW: That's okay.
MK: You'll get used to it I think.
PW: So, let's see. Now I'm going to basically focus my story on the part which I know something special about. I don't think you could interview any Concordian they would tell you the same sorts of things that I could tell you. I had kids that went through the schools. My oldest son was President—whatever they call it—captain of the fencing team at Concord-Carlisle High School. I have three sons that have, going through the school system. These sorts of things I think are probably standard.
I guess what I want to talk about is the archeology, and how did I get interested in it, and how that came to be. So I was doing some summer reading about the Neanderthals and the Arian races and this, that and the other. And then I went to an exhibit at the Concord Museum, which was called, from Muskataquid to Concord. Had a little pamphlet produced by the Museum. I think Shirley Blanke, their resident archeologist had written it. And what I learned there in this exhibit--. This is maybe fifteen years ago—Was that there were Indians in Concord. I guess it was sort of a no-brainer. Now I realize there were Indians everywhere and everyone should know very well that there were Indians everywhere. But at the time, you know you're just living in this nice suburban town, it doesn't occur to you that there were people here before.
And one time I was dozing on the sofa, thinking, "Well, if there were people here for, let's see, how long was that? Let's see, something like 10,000 years, well gosh that's a long time. They must've left some kind of traces behind. There must be something. The Concord Museum has arrowheads and nice museum pieces there, but you're thinking, "Well there must really be more than a few arrowheads." So you--. So I walk right out of my yard, walked up to the first rock in my yard, which is a big rock. And there was a channel ground in to the top of the rock, smooth, parallel. Obviously somebody had been rubbing a stone back and forth on that forever. And so I go, "Huh. What's that?" And so I go looking around a lot of the rocks. The larger rocks around here, the fine-grained ones, the igneous rocks, were used as grinding stones, for corn, or in this case, since it was a channel, as opposed to a basin, I think it was probably for polishing, one of the polished stone tools that they made, the axes, or the, whatever they call them, celts [pronounces as selts] or kelts [pronounces as kelts] and gouges and things. So I mean, as soon as you start looking for traces of the past, they're all over the place. People don't recognize them; they just drive right by them But to me it's a fascinating narrative, the fact that there's archeology everywhere. There's probably archeology right outside this window if you put your feet into the, scrape up some of the dirt with your, get your fingernails dirty, you'll see stuff. And so what I started doing, I--. One of the books was this pamphlet. Another book I read was saying things about, this is what broken rocks look like. When man breaks a rock this is what it looks like. These are particular characteristic concave facet, sort of a cone of percussion, just like, you remember when a BB goes through a window. Do you remember what that looks like? Punch this little cone through the window? You know that?
The interviewers are not respon--. They're nodding, yes, they know that, what I'm talking about. Anyway, the cone of force punches a cone through a window, and if you hit a rock in a very sharp and precise spot, it also produces a cone, except usually most of the cone's out in the mid-air and part of the cone is removed from the rock, leaving a concave curved facet. And that's the only way you can get that kind of a breakage pattern. You have to apply force at a point. So anywhere in the world where you're walking, you see concave faceted rocks, those are made by man. And when I first heard that I go, "Well wait a minute. I've been seeing those types of rocks all my life." So I went out to look for some, and sure enough, there are stone tools everywhere. Most of them are crude. Most of them are of no interest to anybody.
In Concord--. I'm going to tell you things which I believe to be true. I'm considered a flaky, fringe kind of guy. I don't want to spend too much time trying to defend my point of view versus what I consider the conventional point of view. I'm just going to say what I believe is the case, and other people can sort out my opinion from other opinions. It's not currently believed that there is such a thing as a disposable stone tool. Everybody believes that stone tools have to be these beautiful things, you know, just like you see in the museums. It's just not true. Ninety-five percent of what they made, they made out of cheap, crappy rock, and they threw it away after using it very briefly. The fields are full of broken rocks, and they're full of broken, man-made broken rocks. They're packed with them. You will have a hard time finding a rock that hasn't been broken in this town. Honest. You got to go look.
And actually, if you go deep down into the glacial till around here, which is twelve feet deep in places, you still find broken rocks. And you go, "What the heck? How did those get there?" Anyway, so that's a separate story. But I went out into--.
MK: Glacial till?
PW: That's stuff that's supposedly the rubble that the glacial pushed aside, whether--. How it got to be there is, I don't know, a more complicated story. But in some cases you find stuff mixed in with that, which makes you wonder, was there somebody here before the glacier? Well, we can come back to that question. Surely there were people here before the glacier. There were people in all other parts of America before the glacier. At least that's currently believed by the conventional wisdom.
In any case, I read a book that told me what to look for in the way of broken rocks. I went out into the field behind Fox House, which is on Route 62. Started picking up rocks. And I just thought, "Is this a stone tool? Is this a stone tool?" Things like, a curved edge with serrations along the edge of it, very clearly toothed serrations. You go, "This must be a stone tool, because look, each one of these is individually made little serration. I don't know what this is for. I've never seen a picture of anything like this, because the collectors don't notice the crap. They don't notice the bulk of what's out there. And really, it's of no interest to anybody, except for the first time hunter, the collector who's going out and looking carefully, because if you can get to recognize facetted rocks, you'll see them everywhere. You see them on the beach, for example, and you go, "What the heck were they doing with huge stone tools on the beach?" Well, they must've been butchering sea mammals. I don't know. The stuff is all over the place.
So, in the field behind Fox House I wondered around for quite a while looking for broken rocks. And I found a few things that I thought were stone tools. And then I sort of circled out from my home, which is in that eastern part of town. And I circled further and further out, looking and looking at every patch of dirt that was there. Now in New England here, everything's covered with leaves and grass. There's very few examples of bare dirt. Traditionally it would be where the fields were plowed, would be a place that you could look, that you could see the bare dirt. I mean you can also see bare dirt where a house is being built, where a sewer is being put in, where a bank is eroding. And I would go around in the wintertime . There wouldn't be a whole lot of bare dirt available, but I'd find a couple of inches of bare dirt along the top of an eroding bank, and I'd go looking right through it. Or there'd be a housing project in Acton and I'd go pull rocks out of the basement, cellar holes that they'd dug, and just keep at it, and keep looking at things and trying to see patterns and see, make sense out of it. And I'd try to make sense out of it.
Finally, I got as far away from my house as Asparagus Farm, which is closer to town here. It's out Route 62, which is called Bedford Road. There's a cemetery, Sleepy Hollow. It's on the left. And you go down to a dip that's called Cemetery Brook. And then come back up. And then you're into this Asparagus Farm is on your left. And once I got to that place--I started walking around.--I found my first arrowhead. I found a real arrowhead. And I go, "Oh, wow, that's beautiful. Cool." And then I found another one, the same day. It was like, I was like, "This must be the right place to be." So I started mining that resource, and I—going back to the fields between Route 62 and the wastewater treatment facility. And over time I collected maybe sixty arrowheads, which I have. Maybe the interviewers will take photographs of these if they want. And this is the first arrowhead I ever found, in Concord. See, isn't that fun?
MK: [Whispering] Wow.
PW: We can come back to that later. It's nothing too dramatically beautiful, but gosh, it's really fun to find something like that. It's a real treat.
CK: It's a little bit dramatic.
MK: I think it is.
PW: Well it's nothing compared to some of these nicer ones. But anyway, we can go into this in more depth later. Look at that.
MK: [Whispering] Wow.
PW: I'm afraid these are sort of scrambled up at the moment. This is supposed to be over here. Okay. Well anyway, we can look at the arrowheads later. It doesn't tape-record very well. But once I started finding real arrowheads, it's almost like I never looked back. I never looked at the crappy stuff again, although I have a house full of drawers of old crud. For example, you know an Indian woman sewed. Right? And believe me, pushing a bone needle through a piece of hide's not easy. Now, in traditional sewing, when you have that problem, you use something called a--. Let's hear it. A thimble. Right. So, do you think a primitive person would ever need something like a thimble? The answer is, "Oh, you bet." They'd use it constantly. What does a thimble look like? Who knows? So, coming at that's a different way. As you're walking through the fields, looking at every single rock you can see, trying to decide, should I pick it up or not, you get to know certain materials that are not from Concord. And you know that those are not from Concord. Therefore somebody brought it here. Therefore it's worth looking at. And those are sort of the fancy, exotic, they're called, because they're not from here. Exotic lithics. But you also notice--. And that's how you find arrowheads; it's not because you see something that looks like an arrowhead, but because you see something that's made out of an exotic material that you know that that's an unusual material. You pick it up. Ninety percent of it'll be underneath the surface. You pick up, you see a little corner. You pick it up and you go, "Oh my God. It's an arrowhead." Or, "Boo." It was a disappointment. But as you walk along you get to know what's a normal, random, uninteresting rock, versus a rock that you want to take a closer look at. And one of the things you'll see is, are rocks that are more polished than the other ones. And you go, "Well wait, that's more polished than it should be. It's just shinier than it should be. You know all the other rocks. Here's one that's shiny. It's made out of the same thing as the other rocks. Why is it shiny?" Shiny because it was in somebody's pocket for a long time, or the equivalent. And then you find that has got a cupped hollow in it. It's about half an inch across with a cup in it. And it's polished most in the interior of the cup. Now that ain't easy to do, even if it's sitting in your pocket, because things don't typically touch the interior surface of a hollow.
So I'm finding these little things. I'm saying, "How would you hold that and what is it for?' Finally, it's just like, "Ah, that fits right here, and the hollow facing out, and you could push a needle." I don't know, but I have to come up with some explanation for why is that thing polished. And the answer that I come up with is, "Well, because it was held." In this case it could've been held and used as a thimble, because it fits in your hand. It has got a hollow for holding the back end of the needle, and it's polished where it would be. And so this could've been used for a thimble. And then that's all I really know is that this sort of thing might've been used as a thimble.
But, like it or not, there are artifacts out there that need to be examined and explained. They don't all look like arrowheads. In fact, you got to imagine that hunting was a small fraction of the overall activity. Women didn't do it. So, for example, what were they using to get about their daily lives? And you believe they were working hard all the time. It wasn't just with their bare hands. They had tools too. But they don't--. You have to fill in the gap there. What did they look like?
So, I--. At the time, because I'm a technology sort of person, I was also involved--. You know, I knew--. I was online on the web, reasonably early adopter. I don't know, not the earliest of adopters. But by the time you could browse Internet Explorer I was trying to create web pages at that time. And I noticed that there are people out there with pictures of their arrowheads online. I thought, "I'll do that too. If I'd find something nice, I'll take a picture, I'll put it online. Let's make sure the world--." You feel a little guilty taking an arrowhead up off the ground, even though you know you're rescuing it from obscurity, you still feel like you're stealing, sort of, so you feel, got to feel like, "Well, I got to give something back." And frankly, I don't really think these belong to me. I think they belong to the Town. I just happen to have them in my possession. So I'm in control of their destiny, but that doesn't mean that I own them. And I haven't decided who's going to get them. This Library does not deserve to get them. Somebody--. The guy who bought this Library said, " I want this Library devoted to showing my arrowheads off and to display, and for books." And then when the Library decided it was no longer convenient for them to do that part of the legacy, they put, stored computers in the room that was designed for showing the arrowheads. So this place had a tradition. It was a beautiful little alcove for showing arrowheads here, which many of the older people will remember and tell you about. I don't know where it is today. But these guys, they took the arrowhead collection. You read the original--. I've gathered--. The original legacy gift for this Library--. This is the Monroe Library. Mr. Munroe said, "Here's the money. Here's what you're supposed to do with it. You're supposed to open this--. This is for the edification of the residents of Concord, including books, the Indian arrowheads, this, that and the other." And so they took all the arrowheads. They put them in a box. They gave them to the Concord Museum. And there they sit. You don't have access to them anymore. I've asked permission. You know, you didn't--. You don't have a academic credential, so you don't deserve to look at the arrowheads anywhere. I consider that to be a shame. And I'm not going to let my arrowheads suffer that fate. I'd rather have them be in my family than have them be in a closet at the Concord Museum. But--.
CK: Or Library. Yeah. Or did you mean Museum?
PW: Well no, they went to the Concord Museum. The Library gave away that which they didn't really have the right to give away, as far as I know. Oh and now they're lost to the public. And I think that's too bad. The Concord Library does what it can, but it has a lot of other priorities besides the archeology of Concord. And it doesn't have a lot of exhibit space. So, whatever, that's sad. And I need to stay focused on my outline.
MK: I'm so glad you said all that.
PW: Yeah, well I got to try to remember. The stories that you really want to hear are probably not the ones I'm going to tell, so it's like--. Why didn't he tell us this when we had hi there? But I was just trying to say that I got involved with web pages, and I had a digital camera, because there happened to be one at work that I borrowed long term. I gave it back eventually, but I had this digital camera early one, before there were digital cameras everywhere. So I was taking pictures of arrowheads, putting them online. People would find my stuff online. I became the only website with Massachusetts arrowheads. And I'm still the only website with Massachusetts arrowheads. The state of Massachusetts has only got one arrowhead picture in its entire resources online. It's like, the nonexistence of the Native Americans is a persistent thing in the way that archeology's handled in this state. Massachusetts simply does not have archeology. If you ask the state of Massachusetts if you look--. I could go on and on, but I'm very much an anti-authoritarian. And as far as I'm concerned, the people who are in charge of archeological resources are crooks. I don't know if they're taking money, but they've done nothing to protect the archeological resources of the state. It's pitiful. It's sad. And I mean maybe it's easy for me to point fingers without knowing all the details. There's some museums that house the collections. But it's the same all over. You go to the Smithsonian. Right? A place with hundreds of thousands of arrowheads that have been given to the Smithsonian. And you say, "Where are the arrowheads?" "We don't have any. They're not on display." "Well where could I look?" "Well maybe if you go look in the, maybe in the Natural history section?" And it's like, what happened to our archeology?
We have a very rich, fascinating archeology here. And the picture is--. I got to keep staying on track. Wait a second. I'll come back to the general picture, but I did web pages. And this brought me to the attention of various people. I'm a member--. I was on the Board of Directors of a group called the New England Antiquities Research Association. They wanted me to do their web page. I got involved with them. They're a group that's interested in the stone works that are in the woods around here, because there's plenty of things that don't fit the standard line about Colonial farming. And I'm going to spend a lot of time talking about the rocks that are in the woods, above ground, stone structures, just to give you a preview.
A vision quest requires a little enclosure where you sit. It's called a prayer seat. Okay? Our woods are full of prayer seats, in and around, and nobody ever notices them. The Indians had vision quests everywhere out the wazoo around here. And the signs of them doing that are everywhere out the wazoo around here. They're all over the place, but if you don't know what to look for, you just sort of ignore it, or you walk right by it. And I'll get into that more. But what with one thing and another, I had a fight here in the Town with the cemetery people. It was a constructed fight. It was an artificial fight. It was a fight I tried to pretend I wanted to battle them out, because they were expanding into that Asparagus Farm area I was telling you about, where, a place where I had collected many wonderful arrowheads. And I didn't really like the idea of them bulldozing it without so much as a, "Thank you very much." The Town had lost track of its own archeology. And its major resources are the ones right there, just beyond Cemetery Creek. This has been documented thoroughly by previous generations of people, but there was nobody alive that remembered that stuff. Often the Historical Commission doesn't have the continuity that would remember, "Gee, we shouldn't go bulldozing over there, because there's archeological sites.
So I brought it to everybody's attention in a, as, superficially subtle way as possible. It made it look like I was being under the table, but I was also threatening that I was going to make it above the table. And so I scared them into giving me a little teeny chunk of the cemetery. And I got to put up a little monument anyway that says, "There were Indians here. There were artifacts here. There were arrowheads. We can stop and think for a moment about that time 10,000 years ago and up until now, before we get back in our cars and drive on and continue with our modern lives."
So I think--. I'm proud of having got to do that, and I think that that is all why I'm here, because I came to the attention of the Town. I got to be on the Board of the Concord Historical Commission, Historical Commissioner for a while. That felt good. Until they got some money--. Before they had any money--. When they were a powerless group, it was a lot of fun being a Concord Historical Commissioner, but once they got the Community Preservation Act money, so there were actually some dollars associated with being on the [Commission], then it stopped being fun. They got official. I don't know what happened. It stopped being fun. It used to be a very laid back thing, an opportunity to meet some of the older Concordians with their own historians and stories about the place.
So that's why I'm here. Okay? I was going to tell you more about arrowheads, for a few minutes. And then I was going to tell you about stone mounds and the Indian archeology, the above ground archeology that's all over the place around here, and end up telling you about what's happening today.
PW: So. So. I could take a pause. Do you want to--? Is there any part of the story that you want to--, that seems like it needs like it needs a little bit more clarification? I suppose I'm rambling all over the place.
MK: Even as a member of the Historical Commission you didn't have access to, to the--?
PW: I could've forced the issue. To the arrowheads at the Museum?
PW: Yeah, I could've forced the issue. Plus, I know Shirley Blanke reasonably well. She has helped me understand the arrowheads that I did collect, what they're made out of, what the styles are, what the date, the approximate date that those things were made. So I probably could, but you know, it's just their archive's not open to the public, so if I got permission, someone would have to go up there with me, and so they'd have to unlock it, and they'd have to keep me under a careful eye, because you know I'm a, some people probably consider me a pot hunter. I consider myself to be the only person who not only is collecting, but is trying to communicate about archeology. So the people who collect and then put stuff in a storeroom and remain silent on it, to me they're the vandals. Right? And I hear stories about the Southwest, and about the pot hunters, those damned pot hunters keep vandalizing sites. Well have you ever been to a site that the archeologists have vandalized? It's incredible. They leave nothing. Vandals at least leave odds and ends of things around, but the archeologists, they could go through, totally wipe the place clean, and all that appears is some obscure report somewhere in the library. And that doesn't help the public any. So in a way, it's the hoarders versus the publish, public, or publicationers, whatever you call that. I try to make my discoveries available to the public. And that's the only thing I can do ethically. I'm not stealing these things. But--.
MK: So it sounds like the—
PW: I'm combative.
MK: The real issue for you is accessibility.
PW: Accessibility. Also--. Yeah. The bottom, the minimum would be accessibility.
MK: Whether it's the Smithsonian or whether it's the local museum, or--?
PW: Yeah. Well I don't--. I haven't thought through any general statement here. I think it's too bad that archeology isn't a little bit more mainstream in what we--. The kids love it. They love to hear about this stuff. There's—So there's no programs where they get to--. There's certainly programs where they get to know about Thoreau, and there's certainly programs where they get to know about Louisa May Alcott, and maybe some of the less famous people, like Hawthorne or Emerson. They get to hear about them, and Bronson Alcott. That's part of their tradition growing up here in Concord, and becoming good writers. But you know, walking in the woods should also be part of your tradition of growing up in Concord, and knowing what's in the woods should be there too. And it's not just--. Thoreau was not the last authority on what was in the woods. He was only the first of many potential authorities.
Anyway, so there's a lot of stuff going on in Concord that isn't literary and that's of interest. And the Concord Museum does a great job in some things, and I just wish that they'd do more. Frankly I've wished that Concord had an archeology museum. It really needs one. There's more than enough material to fill multiple museums here. I'm an employed guy. I got to work for a living, except for today, which I took off. But if I was one of the landed gentry around here, I think some efforts at creating an archeology museum for the public would be well worth it. There's an interest. There's everything you need, probably grant money if you were only to go after it. So that's too bad that there can't be. Because there's a lot of stuff that, who knows what to do with it, really.
So, I got started looking at arrowheads, as I was telling you. I'm now into the section of my outline called Arrowheads, and I'll spend a few minutes on this. I got started because I read books about the Neanderthals and about Concord pre-history and about stone tool manufacturing. And it led me to go start walking around. I'd been walking around taking my weekend walks looking at ducks and looking at ferns. But now I started looking at the rocks. And I never looked back. I've been looking at the rocks every since.
I found arrowheads mostly from eastern Concord, is where the big cornfields are. Now there probably were—Eastern Concord, meaning eastern end of town. There are lots of cornfields over here, western Concord, southwestern Concord. They're further from my house. I don't know if I'm trespassing. I get kind of nervous walking out in the middle of a field. You don't want to be walking on the corn. Farmers legitimately get pissed off at you if you trample on their crops. And even if you're walking carefully, they don't know you're walking carefully, and you can get chased out of anywhere. And I like it when I get chased out politely by the right people, and I don't like it when I get chased out impolitely by the wrong people. I hate Lincoln, because they've chased me out impolitely. I tell them, "Look, you didn't know there was an archeological site here. I'm collecting--. I'm putting you on the map." "No, we're not interested. You're not allowed to do that. Get out of here." I got chased out of Littleton yesterday for different reasons, trespassing on a guy's property. So I hesitate to go exploring in the Southwestern parts of town around White's Pond, up by the rifle range, out by the prison. These are places where there are open fields where one could explore. And eventually I did get over into some of those fields and explored them too. But I didn't get to know them as well.
What I found was in eastern Concord you have--. Well, most obviously you have the standard mid-Archaic cultures, which includes the stemmed point, the Merrimac cultures and the concave-base Brewerton point cultures. Okay, and I could show you two different types of arrowheads, and I guess this is probably one time when I can tell you one of the stories about these two different groups. It's that story. So that's some of what I found in the east. And I found something else in the east, which I want to tell you about also, which is the Lakeshores, which is even earlier than the Middle-Late Archaic. And then I found stuff out on the western Concord out by the prison, and I want to tell you about that. Those are the Late Paleos. So it's the oldest archeological sites in Concord are, that I know of are out by the prison. And those are eight, nine, ten thousand-year-old sites, little teeny fluted points, little things, like the great game hunters, only little teeny versions of them, made out of quartz.
So let me tell you what I found where. Actually this is a good time. So, there's two types of arrowheads that you find in Concord, at Asparagus Farm, behind Ripley School, over in that part of town. One type has, have stems, like this; they look like Christmas trees. Okay? The other type have, well, more, sort of a flat base. This one's broken. But sometime they're eared; sometimes they're flat. They're sort of like that. Sometimes they look a little bit like a jet airplane, as opposed to a Christmas tree. And those are the two arrowhead shapes that are most traditional in Concord. The stemmed ones are called Merrimac points, and, or stark points, or--. I've forgotten the name for it. And these other ones, these flatter, concave-based ones with the ears in the corners, these are called Brewerton points, and they have various names. So the Brewerton. Now, what's interesting--. This is very interesting, to me. Is you look at the materials that these stemmed points are made of. None of these materials come from Concord. Okay? So, you can say, "Where did they come from?" Well maybe this came from Concord. Put that away. Don't--. Spoils my story.
So here. This first arrowhead of all. This is made out of a blueish fine-grained slatey material. It's called Argillite. It's also called Cambridge Blue Mudstone. And like other materials that the stem points are made out of, it comes from east of here. So the good, exotic, lithic sources for stemmed points come from east of Concord, along the rivers, and the waters, down to the sea. Stemmed points are also found along the coast, north into Labrador, over into Europe, and right over into Italy. That's where stemmed points are found, North Atlantic cultures. Okay? These things are associated with the red paint people, from a very far past. They're associated with things like deep water fishing. They have--. They found swordfish remains in association with stemmed points like this.
Okay. These guys were living in the North Atlantic probably before the Bronze Age, probably around 6,000, five to 6,000 B.C. So they were seven or 8,000 years ago. And they exist in America down, I don't know, into the Carolinas. Right? But it's a coastal, maritime culture. And the sources of the materials here in Concord are from east of here. By contrast, the Brewerton points are made from materials that come from west of here. And the style is very different. One could make a reasonable case for how the style of the Brewerton points is an evolutionary development that began with the fluted points and the great game hunters, from there. You could make that case. But in any case--. Too many uses of the word "case," but any--.
Nevertheless, these materials are from the West; these materials for the stem points are from the East. And here's the interesting thing. These guys more or less overlapped in time in Concord. And yet, their materials remained different. Their styles of arrowheads has remained different. And I'm not talking about twenty days here and there, I'm talking about 2,000 years. That's a long time, where both of these cultures came to Concord, went their separate ways, and never intermarried, never mingled, never shared, never developed a common style of arrowhead. So what are we talking about? Here's my story. There were two different groups of people in Concord, and they hated each other. They must've. They must've been like, Black versus white. Kill 'em." Or something, because their arrowheads didn't ever become one. They remain separate cultures right up until the late Archaic, at which point you have the small stemmed small points, and you--. I don't know. You have maybe--. I don't even know what the--. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't really know what happened after that. But I do know that for a long time in there, they were separate, and they remained separate. So you got to put a human face if you can behind this. These people, they must've bumped into each other. And yet, it wasn't a happy meeting.
This is my story. Maybe it's wrong, but who's going to say I'm wrong? Right? I will say that my statements about the materials are probably verifiable. And so, if somebody wants to check, there are some elements of my story that are subject to more than just my opinion. You can actually go look at it. So that's my story. The first economy of Concord, of course, was, at least in eastern Concord, if you want to try to put together the story--. All these arrowheads are concentrated just on the far edge of Cemetery Brook. Now, you have--. I'm gesturing with my hands. The microphone won't show up. But I'm waving off to my left. I'm facing east. Okay? And to my left is the Concord River. Okay? And in front of me is the East. And Concord River is called the Concord River, because two major rivers have a concordance here, which is the Sudbury and the Assebet Rivers. So we're basically a huge crossroads of the river system here. Means this was a crossroads on the highway of early people who traveled by boat. You don't travel on foot. You travel by boat. Your family goes by boat. That's the, how you get around. And these rivers go everywhere. You can get anywhere you want by river.
Now Concord is the way you get fro Canada to Cape Cod. Because if you want to get from Canada to Cape Cod you come down the Merrimack River, somehow. Maybe you get into this river system from the Connecticut River. I'm not sure how you get over to here. You get onto the Nashua River. You come over in here. And somewhere around Harvard you jump from the Nashua River over into the Assebet River, Elizabeth Brook. And then you can come up Elizabeth Brook, and then you could go off to where the Sudbury starts down in central Massachusetts in Upton. Or you could go down a little ways and in particular, as relevant to this story, you can hop over into the Charles River water system. And the way you hop from the Concord River to the Charles River is going along Cemetery Brook up into the bogs and ponds that are today on the back of Revolution Ridge. And then there was a sh--. And Hanscom Field, which is today a flat airport, used to be a marsh and lakes, and they were filled in with water. And so from there you can hop over a very short ridge, and then you're into the—. There's a very short portage between Hanscom Field and the Charles River. In fact, Hanscom Field's almost at the watershed divide. So these are the lakes that you follow and you get--.
So this is the highway. The portages are going up through here, along Cemetery Brook. And they all got out and camped there. And that's where al the arrowheads are. But I'm remembering, I forgot to tell you the story about the lakeshore. So don't let me forget that. I want to come back and tell you the story about the lakeshore. Anyway, all the arrowheads--. The largest concentration of arrowheads, they're right along the eastern edge of Cemetery Brook. Now this is where the Minute Men ran around behind, to ambush the British. Now you've probably hears the story about the fight at the North Bridge? And you will have heard that the British retreated in orderly fashion, quote-unquote, and that the farmers, wily, resilient Yankee farmers, with their--. You got to laugh at that story. I mean you got something like twenty British standing on one side of the bridge and something like twenty farmers on the other side of the bridge. And they all shoot at each other, and only one person is hit. It's like, that can't be a very effective weapon, right, if forty of them go off and one of them actually makes contact. And we're talking about a short distance.
Anyway. So the farmers ran around the backwoods way, which is to say the Cemetery Brook portage way, right, following the old trails up from the river there. And the British followed the new trail out of town toward Lexington. And the hardy, resilient Yankee farmers met them at Miriam's Corner. But in any case, the route that the Yankee farmers were following there, was the same route as the Indians portaging up out of the river and over towards the Charles.
Now this was a big area, the Hanscom Field area. Now I'm going to tell you another story. And you need to look at the forty-five meter topo line on the maps in eastern Concord. It more or less marks division between a highland and a lowland. So at any place in eastern Concord that you're walking around, you'll notice a drop-off into a kind of floodplain area. All right? So over here on the left [showing map] you'll have a drop-off into the Concord River. Over here on the right you have these marshy, flat, boring expanses between Concord and Bedford, with a few little hills sticking out of the little few outcrops, which is now today's Hanscom Field. But before that, what was it called? Bedford Levels. It was called Bedford Levels, and I don't know to what extent it had been irrigated, or drained, or what have you. Presumably in--. But if you look, all through that area, if you're walking along, and around the forty-five foot topo line, there's a drop-off of about eight feet.
I'm pulling out my map just so I can sort of show the interviewers what I'm talking about. But right here. See? Right along here. I'm showing them a big patch of Hanscom Field. Okay? Hanscom Field's totally flat. And then you have a first topo line. And then you have another one that's the forty-five. See how it says "forty-five" right there?
MK: Umm hmm.
PW: Now at that spot, there's a drop-off. So this big flat area is divided, if you like, by ridges, or hills, or higher land. Back when this--. A little bit of flooding. Even in a wet year this'll start to flood. The only way in and out of town is along this ridge. I'm showing them Route 62. Route 62 goes along a ridge. But on either side of Route 62 it's wetland. And the more you look at it, the more you can be convinced that long ago these weren't just marshes. They were actually lakes. And then we'll tell you about glacial lake--. What was it? Framingham. Glacial Lake Framingham. So when the ice was--. This was maybe thirteen, maybe 15,000 years ago, the ice was up here in the north, weighing down the land. Now all the land was sort of tipped a bit that way, and there was a big lake of water just filling up everything. And some of these--. Concord, a few things would've been islands. Concord would've stuck up in the form of a few islands sticking up.
So, at that point, when there were glacial--.There were seals and things in Concord at that time. Right? The things with marine ivory living in there. And we don't know if there was Paleo-Indians living in Concord at that time. We don't know. But then what happened was is that the ice broke and the water flooded out. Okay? And then, after that, the land bounced back. It's called re—glacial rebound of some kind. You remove the weight of the ice and the land goes "Woop. Woop. Woop. Woop," like this over a hundred or a thousand years. It's like--. I don't know. But I'm looking at it, and I'm going, you know, I find a certain type of stone tools all along this forty-five line. And they're not arrowheads, although I found a couple of arrowhead-like things. They're more like scrapers, or knives or just cheap crap. These guys didn't have good stone to work with, but they had jobs to do. And I make up the following story, which is that there was a culture of people that lived along the lakeshore. They were not arrowhead users. They were fishing people. They used--. I thought I found a barbed, a barb, sort of a spear, something that might've been imbedded--. I have a barbed made out of slate. It's like a hook, with a sharp hook. And I found it at the lowest point on Maplewood Farms over here. And you know, it's just very interesting, if you walk, for example. Do you know where Maplewood Farm is? That's along--. It's right here [pointing to map]. So it's Sunnyside--.What's it called? Shadyside Lane? Sunnyside Lane? There's--. I don't want to get into this too much, but you could walk from the highlands down to the lowland behind Maplewood Farm, which is a farmstand right here. You cold just walk from here, where you're high, slowly, gradually down into where it's low. And just look at the ground and how it changes and how the soil changes. And it you look for broken rocks you can look at how the broken rocks change.
But at the very lowest point, I found a hook made out of slate. Nothing very pretty, but I go, "Yeah, that's manufactured. I don't know what it's for. Looks like a hook of some kind." So I see fishing having taken place here. These people--. The very, very first economy of Concord was sort of a hunter-gatherer, not a hunting, but sort of like a fishing-gathering culture around the lakeshore. And then these lakes dried up. And then the land rebounded. There might've been a second lake. And I don't know what the timing is. I don't know the geology, the details. But there's a very clear demarcation on the forty-five line here. And curiously enough, it doesn't exist over here in western Concord and southern Concord, at least I haven't seen it over there, which makes me think that when it rebounded it tipped. So today, the forty-five line is meaningful, but it became a different height somewhere else in Concord. So there's a similar drop-off, but it kind of looks--. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's still at forty-five.
But you can look at these maps. The last big topo line before the flats is always forty-five, meters, I guess that is. So, I don't know. I think that there was a lakeshore culture. So I find things that I think are from them. And then separately from them I find stuff out in the west of Concord that, I guess Paleo-Indian stuff. And they arrived by canoe. They always talk about the great game hunters. You've probably heard these stories, these noble savages who extinguished all the mega-fauna in America, you know, these hardy Yankee hunter-gatherers, before they were Yankees. But you've probably heard these stories about them chasing the mammoths to extinction, this, that and the other. You know, this is the popular standard story, the great game hunters. They story that they don't tell you is that certain varieties of mice became extinct at the same time. So there was more going on than just the hunting of mammoths. Certain varieties of owl became extinct around the same time. And actually the extinction didn't happen all at once, they way they like it to sound.
Somehow around 10,000 B.C. all the big animals in America died. That's not true. They'd been dying out for 30,000, since 30,000 years or so ago. In any case, the great game hunters, if you look at the distribution of the fluted points--. I'm holding up my hands and making an outline of a Folsom point or a Clovis point, which I'm not sure the interviewers know the word, the name. But you've seen these things where they show you a point that's shaped like that. No? The Discovery Channel things where they--. The Smithsonian's got some beautiful ones, but you have to know Dennis Stamford—Stafford—in order to get access to them.
Anyway, over time the arrowheads got smaller. And if you look at the distribution of fluted points, you look at a map of America and where all of the fluted points that ever been found in America, where they were found, it's along the rivers. It's not in the middle of nowhere. These guys were boat users. It's not really very consistent with the pictures in the back of the Time-Life Series on great game hunting, where you always see these guys with furs looking slightly different than the Neanderthals and the Crow-Magnums, but not much different. Same artistic concept. But the reality is these guys were in boats. They were in boats on the Mississippi; they were in boats on the Assebet. They were in boats on the--.Well, they were in boats on the Atlantic, but as far as I can tell that's a different group of people.
Meanwhile, back here with the fluted point people, they were certainly coming up into Concord on the Assebet River, and they were certainly along the Nashoba Brook. And they were certainly in the cornfields south, no, north and, well just north of Warner's Pond, out behind the prison. There's some big cornfields, and I have found spear-thrower counterweights there. I have found a large number, well not a large number, like four little teeny quartz triangles that are said to be hard to tell apart from something else. So these are called Hardaway-Dalton points. Let's see if I have one.
PW: Hardaway-Dalton, or Dalton-Hardaway. I'm not sure what the order is there.
PW: Yeah, that's Hardaway. Hardaway.
PW: Yeah. Look at this, before I--. Isn't that beautiful?
MK: Oh, man.
PW: That's just a stemmed point.
MK: Let's see.
PW: I'm looking for my Hardaway-Daltons in here.
MK: Is Hardaway-Dalton an archeologist?
PW: Dalton. I think it was a site, the name of the farm where they first—
PW: --identified this type of arrowhead. Had--. I'm trying to just find them by feel. Let me put these away.
CK: That's all right.
PW: Well it's not all right. I want to get this back. Sorry.
CK: Well sure. But--.
PW: I should keep talking while I do it. But anyway—
CK: Take your time.
PW: But anyway, I'm looking for these little quartz triangles, because I know they're in here somewhere. I'm not sure where. Could it be that? No. We're still into the stemmed points there. Yes. Here we go. This is actually not from where I'm talking about, but this is the type of thing I'm talking about. Curtis Hoffman, who is the current editor of the Bulletin of the Mass Archeological Society, and I think—
CK: Of the what Society?
PW: Mass Archeological Society. Curtis Hoffman. He's a professor at Bridgewater State. I think he also was a--. He thought that that was a little Clovis point. And he is the most knowledgeable person about arrowheads in Massachusetts. So, I'm going to go with that, because I like that. But I don't actually think it's a Clovis--.
MK: A Clovis point?
PW: Clovis point. It's a miniature Clovis point. And I actually don't think it is reasonable to call it a Clovis point. I think it's more reasonable to call it a Hardaway-Dalton. See that? That's a fluted point. Can you see the flute?
MK: Umm hmm.
PW: Little bit? It's a teeny one that's not like these huge Smithsonian beauties, but that's what that is. And these come from Warner's Pond area. And if you're wondering where in that big field to go to look, I'll tell you a little brag, which is that I had spent four years walking around that field, an hour here, an hour there, and I never found anything. But I just felt that I had to keep looking, because it's part of the job. And then I started saying, "Well, this is a big field. If I was an arrowhead, where would I be in this field?" And I looked around, and there's a high point. I go, "I think I should be up there." And I walk up there, and I look down, and there was a flake, just a flake. And I go, "Ah." Unexotic [An exotic?] flake. "Ah." So then I walked around and I found a fluted flake. And then after a while I found--. Over the years I found maybe three or four, these pretty little quartz things. I'd like to show you one. Um. I love them. There they are.
MK: Ah hah.
PW: Doesn't really, barely look like an arrowhead. The bottom of it is that way. And that's halfway between the great game hunting fluted points and these eared Brewertons that I was showing you earlier. It really is sort of--. You can see the evolutionary thing. It just developed ears.
So, what am I telling you? I was telling you the places in Concord. So one place is the fields behind Fox House, the lakeshore culture there. There's a site at the stone wall between the Hanscom land and the Fox fields, closer to here, behind Ripley School. There are some corn fields and they back on the same waterway, the Cemetery Creek and what's called Thoreau's Bog, which is now a wetland behind Revolutionary Brook. Well, that was the portage water, so everywhere along there--. And there's houses along Birch Street and Maple Street. If I lived there I'd be digging up my backyard, because that's where the arrowheads are, the most of them anyway in Concord. It's true there are arrowheads by White's Pond. It's true that there are stemmed points on the field across from the Rifle Range. It's also true that there are stemmed points just west of Strawberry Hill Road, where it starts west off of blah, blah, blah. Something, Barrett's Mill Road. And there's a name for that farm out there, and I can't remember what it's called.
So those are where the arrowheads are that I know of. I've heard that the five percent study of Concord found some arrowheads somewhere else, but I've never been able to figure out where that was. And I haven't looked at--.
MK: Five percent?
PW: Somebody did--.Some archeologist did a study of five percent of Concord, and they reported it. And one of them came up to me at a archeology conference, saying, "Oh, you're interested in Concord arrowheads? Well let me tell you--." And he proceeded to tell me that his survey had found some somewhere, but he couldn't tell me where, because it was twenty years ago. I didn't look up the study. I'm not a good scholar. There's a lot of information in this library. I'm out there looking for stuff. And I probably could do better if I knew more. But, I wanted to mention that before me, walking around in the fields of Concord, I'm proud to say that there was a fellow named Ben Smith, who did very good mapping and probably, his collection probably a hundred times bigger than mine. And before him was a fellow named Avery Tolland.
PW: T-O-L-L-A-N-D. Now he wrote the history of Concord. So you can go back and find out that. And before him was Henry David Thoreau, who had the small arrowhead collection that you can still some of it in the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard. So it's a good tradition to be part of. But, year after year, fewer and fewer fields are plowed, and it's harder and harder to find exposed surface that you can walk over. So I think arrowhead hunting is down to about as minimum an activity as it can be now. But they did just plow. This is May 24th, and it rained. And I'm going to be going to the field behind Ripley School, probably after lunch, since I took the day off. I should go out to the field by the cemetery, I mean by the--. Oh, I'm forgetting. I'm spending all this time talking about nonsense and not telling you the good stories. I still want to tell you about stone mounds, and that's an important thing, and I hope we have time for it. Don't let me get, spend too much time talking about arrowheads, because they're not the most interesting story, actually, in my opinion. But I should tell you the story about the cemetery.
I guess I told you that I had pretended to start a fight with the cemetery people?
MK: Umm hmm.
PW: I'm getting old and rambling. And they actually--. I guess I already did tell the story. Yeah. Right. And they set aside a piece of ground, and there is today a plaque. I had a friend of mine's help when he picked a rock out of his collection of rocks. And he lent me tools, and he told me how to carve it. And I designed a message and a sign, and I paid out of pocket for a bronze plaque that I then got--. I got reimbursed luckily. But I bought a bronze plaque which I designed, and I manufactured the hole into the rock that a plaque fits into, and my friend, who's in construction and knows how to do these things, helped me screw and glue the plaque into place. And we then brought it down here and had, unloaded from his pickup truck by the Cemetery Committee people in their front loader, and they then did the difficult work of placing the stone in there. But if you go in the new cemetery area, that's just now east of Cemetery Brook, it's called the extension to Sleepy Hollow, and you go left, you'll see the only stone over there today is my plaque. And hopefully it won't be surrounded by too many graves that people will become unaware of it. But I'm happy to say that I visited it, and there was a girl leaning up on it one time, which means--. And there was another time that there was a dog had peed on it. And another time there was some rabbit tracks that went up to it. I go to visit my plaque just to see how it's doing. And it's part of the environment now. Dogs are peeing on it. Girls are hiding form their parents behind it. So it has some function hopefully. And I--. There are some new people out there hunting for arrowheads today. And there's a guy who comes down from New Hampshire, because he's like raiding my territory. It's like, "Go back to New Hampshire. Get your own arrowheads," you want to think. But anyway, there's other people out there today. And I stopped and spoke with the young man and woman who were collecting together, and they had sent he plaque and they had appreciated the plaque. So I felt that that had--. It reached at least some audience.
CK: So you wrote a message on it.
CK: Or designed a message.
PW: Yes. It says, "For 10,000 years, this has been a favorite home to people who lived by the rivers." It originally said something slightly different. It said, "Here, for more than 10,000 years, the Europeans lived" blah, blah, blah. What I wanted to say is that the ground in the cemetery is stained red from the campfires of the people that stayed there. You have to have been part of the archeological dig which was downstream. Consequence of my making this fuss was that the cemetery people paid for some archeology, and it's just one of these archeology lab people. They make their money by saying, "There's nothing here. You can build." That's the way they make their money. But anyway, these guys came out and dug as bunch of holes. And every hole they dug--. Every other hole they dug hit a fire pit. So these guys were out there. The first economy of Concord, if you don't count the lakeshore stuff and if you ignore the Paleo-Indians, who were just a temporary presence up by the--. The real stuff was in the Middle Archaic, where Concord was very busily occupied by these two different sets of people I was telling you about. And the great game would come out, go down to the river to water, and then they come back up to the flats of Bedford to eat, because this was a prairie. Between when it was lakes and now, it was also prairie. It's flat, sort of wet. It was perfect for, I don't know, buffalo, something like that? Anyway. Presumably they were hunting game up there, and I don't really know this, but I imagine cooking it also. So you got campfires.
I'll tell you one last story. When they--. Well, not at all one last story, one more story. When they dug the cemetery extension, the place that I'd fought them on, to the point that they left a little bit of it alone, but when they went to do it, first they stripped away the soil. Then they trenched rows, because they wanted it to have certain contours when they were done, which, since it was a flat piece of land and they wanted it to be an unflat finished product, they had to dig down to get that affect and remove soil. Basically they removed chunks of--. It was a flat surface before they got there. It was common ground, probably because of whatever; it was common land before it became owned by the cemetery. And you should hear the stories from Emerson and Dee and Scimoneabout that eastern Concord and that piece of land in general. But, when the Cemetery Committee went in there to build, the engineer trenched the roads. At the places where it was going to be deeper he dug down and then up. So that left soil profiles where you could see the dirt in profile from the side. And it was mostly just sand and gravel bedded with rust, maybe layers of rusty sand running through it. And you could--. And so one place where they dug it, there was like a charred log sticking out of the, out of six feet down. There's a charred log sticking out because somebody had a fire there, right?
Another place. I'm looking along here at following the braided layers of sand and gravel, and suddenly they stop in their horizontal trajectory. And then they resume five, ten feet later on the same horizontal trajectory. But between where they stopped and where they restarted there was a—something that came down from the--. It was all mixed in, and somebody had--. It looked like the cross-section of a hole that had been dug into the bank. I think it's about the only reasonable explanation for why they, the layers stopped and there was a homogeneous stretch and then they resumed as layers beyond that. And you know, on the way from the top to the bottom of this hole, which is eight feet deep, you're seeing little bits of charred stuff sticking out there. So we're talking fire pits eight feet deep. Well, you know you're talking campfires everywhere.
So I wanted originally to say, "Where you stand in the cemetery--." This is the plaque that didn't get written. "Underneath your feet and all around are the red stains of their fires." I wanted to say that. Because it's like you're standing in a place that was a city eight thousand years ago. And now it's just an empty field. But look to the southwest and think about the people who have passed.
So I think that should be the end of my arrowhead ranting. And now I should tell you a little bit about rock piles and a different part of the story. So, I don't know what the right way to, how did I get started with rock piles? You're walking around in the woods, and you notice stone walls, but you don't pay too much attention to them. And somewhere along the line--. I'll just put it this way. Somebody told me that, "Gee, you know not all those stone walls were made by farmers. Some of them were there beforehand." Somebody told me that. And you go, "I don't believe you. I was always told that farmers made everything." Right? Those hardy, resilient, Yankee farmers, they, they're hardworking. They came into a wilderness. Now, it turns out that America was by no means a wilderness. Actually it was totally--. It was a garden, very carefully managed garden. And how many stone walls were here beforehand, we won't know until dating techniques catch up with the questions that we have. We don't know how to date a stone wall very well. But it is true that if you go out and look, that quite a large number of stone walls point toward astronomical events that are calendrical. So if you see a stone wall that points right to where the winter solstice sunset happens, it doesn't point to north or south, it points to that, and then you see that more than once, you start saying, "Why would somebody be building a stone wall where the only meaningful concept of that direction is an astronomical concept?"
I probably shouldn't get too much into the subject, but it's very much considered fringe archeology that the Native Americans built stuff in stone. They didn't build home s out of stone, but they built lots of stuff out of stone. They built fishing weirs. They built fire breaks. They built deer drivelines. They built--.
MK: Deer drive--? I know what a weir is, but a deer driveline?
PW: It's like where you put a stone wall into a funnel, and then the deer's got to run between, down--. They don't want to jump the fence, so they run through the entrance of the funnel, and that's where you wait and get them. Something like that. They talk about drivelines.
MK: So a deer weir.
PW: Exactly. And these are officially recognized Native American constructions. But everywhere in America except New England, Native Americans constructed up the wazoo, as we say. And you have to wonder, "Well why does it somehow stop when we get to New England?" And the answer is, it doesn't stop. Belief stops when you get to New England. New England has a peculiar history in which, since this is my story, I will tell you what I believe. Okay? For better or for worse, when the N--. You can read this story in Trespassing by John Hanson Mitchell [Trespassing: An Inquiry Into the Private Ownership of Land].You know, the first Pilgrims, when they got here, their first act was to go ashore and steal a kettle with some corn in it. And I think twenty years or so later, the Indians were still trying to get their kettle back, because the Pilgrims, they said to themselves, "There's nobody here. Look. It's an abandoned village. Why we can take this pot of corn. It doesn't belong to anybody. There's no one here." So the theft of New England by the Anglos was predicated, since these were ethical people, Biblical, you know, Christian people. You couldn't steal, but you could occupy that which had been abandoned by a non-existent, long-gone people.
The idea that the Native Americans didn't exist was built into the land acquisition mentality. And it became ingrained in the history books of New England. The non-existence of the Native Americans became a matter of law. It's required that the Indians don't exist. We cannot tolerate the possibility that they exist.
MK: A matter of law?
PW: Yeah. In other words, we got to take this land. Therefore they don't exist. I don't know how to put it. It became--. There's a word for this. It became canon; it became the canon. Is that the phrase?
MK: Umm hmm.
PW: Was that they didn't exist. In fact they continued to exist. And, hey here's a big secret: They still exist now. Whoever's listening to this tape, there are Indians out there, now.
CK: Out here?
PW: Yeah, here. I saw some Indians in the library not too long ago, although I doubt that they were New England Indians. They were probably some other tribe. But. I'm going to tell you about some of the things Indians do in the woods, did in the woods and continue to do in the woods. And it has to do with stone mounds. And one of the standard things that you hear is, "Oh, well that was only built thirty years ago. Therefore it must've been America, European." You know, well you're forgetting, the Indians are still here now. And the thing I'm shocked by, and I'm going to try to give some context to this statement in a few minutes is that I was watching cowboys and Indians on TV, and they were out in my backyard sneaking around. Can you believe that? And if you're from around here--. You're from--.
MK: West Virginia.
PW: West Virginia. You got Indians sneaking around down in West Virginia. I guarantee it. And if they've been driven out of a place, just because you don't think they're there anymore doesn't mean they're not there anymore. See, the Anglos like to think that we came and occupied New England and the Indians were gone at the time, and they've never come back. The last Indian was in, 19—1821. And then there was another last Indian in 1873. I'm making these numbers up. And then there was another last Indian. Truth is that there has been a small Native American presence in New England at all times, and they're doing quite well, thank you very much. The Narragansetts have their thing going on in Rhode Island. You got the Wampanoags actually expanding their existence down on the Cape and in Mashpee. You have the Nipmuc inland, who didn't keep good tribal records, and so they're not a recognized tribe, although in my opinion they seem to have a better mental continuity of these things than some of the more officially recognized and established tribes. And I wish some of the things I'm about to tell you could be used to help them gain tribalhood, because they deserve it as much as anybody else, even if the Narragansetts are contemptuous of the Nipmuc, because the Nipmuc have forgotten who they are, nonetheless, they're Indian, and they have been here all along, and they deserve some kind of credit for things, and some kind of--. They did used to own everything, so--. Whatever. Meanwhile I'm getting chased out of Littleton by some urbanized guy going, "I don't know you. I'm going to call the police." Somehow it seems like all part of the same picture.
Anyway, I'm trying to figure out how to start this story. I heard that there was funny stuff in the woods. I started looking more carefully at what was in the woods. I noticed rock piles, piles of rock, in a couple different places in Acton. And then, I was walking in Acton. And you know people tell you that when you see a pile of rocks it's because somebody was clearing the field and getting the rocks out of a field. And then if you press them and say something like, "Well there's no field for any miles around here," they come up with some other thing, "Well yeah, but it's also for a trail marking." "Yeah, but there's no trail here and there's four of them in a row. They're not in a row, they're in a circle." They go, "Oh yeah, well they were just building the rock pile, because somebody was going to come along and put them into a truck and ship them somewhere and they were staged. That's sort of how you made a pallet, a pallet of rock. You put them in a pile."
They'll tell you these sorts of things. And then you come back and say, "Yeah, but this is on top of a mountain in Vermont. And there's no rocks. Nobody was harvesting rocks from the top of the mountain." They go, "Well I don't know what that was about." And then they go off somewhere else. They just won't answer the questions. So anyway, you hear that there's these funny things. You're walking around looking at stuff. You say, "Well gee, there's an awful lot of rock piles in the woods in Acton," because I mean I noticed them. Then I'm walking along, and I came across something which was very obviously from field clearing. All right? So at the edge of a field--. Now my story's going to expand outside of Concord now, if that's permissible.
I--. Acton and Carlisle were part of Concord, and Concord was the first frontier town, but I regard all of Middlesex County as being the extension of Concord, essentially. So, where am I in the story? Yeah, okay, Wetherby Road I guess in Acton, there's a cornfield there where I did find one Paleo-Indian point. But at a time--. But anyway, you go up to the top of the field, and you will see sort of up at the top, a little bit to the left, you will see big piles of rocks. And you will see big rocks in a big circle, with smaller rocks dumped into them, and even smaller rocks dumped on top of those. Then you'll see another pile over here that's just smaller rocks. And the way they cleared a field was first you take the biggest ones out, and maybe you'd put them in a pile, or you'd make a little circle or something. And then you'd take the next bigger ones out, and you'd dump them in their own pile, or maybe on top of the larger ones. And then eventually you get to rocks that are just about five, six inches across, and you haul out baskets and baskets of them, and you just dump them on there. So you'd see these little piles of small ones. Very easy to recognize this. There's no mistaking it when you see it. It leaves a pile that's basically at the angle of repose, meaning it's made the way rocks would be if they came to rest when you tossed them into a pile. There's no attempt of tidying up the edges. The edges are--. Its not circular or rectangular. It's just an uneven outline. And in particular, they are sorted by size, so that you'll see the big ones in one place and then another bunch of middle sized one and a bunch of smaller sized ones.
Now I was looking at that, and then the same day, or the other day, I saw this pile over on Springhill in Acton. You go to the end of Springhill Road in Acton, go fifty yard to the right, and you will see there a trail marker, which has three dots on it indicating rock piles. I'd love to tell you the story about how Acton became the first town to acknowledge the existence of rock piles and started designing their trail program, their trails, around some of this resource, because what they have is a bunch of archeological sites, which are equivalent to Stonehenge or the mounds in Ohio, but they're small and subtle and very, very uniquely New Englandy. And they're very common. And I'll get into that more. But anyway, I'm just trying to tell you, the act of discovery, which isn't really my discovery, because somebody already told me, "There's funny stuff in the woods." But how did I come to believe it myself was, I'm looking at rock piles in Springhill, and the rock piles are small. They're about four or five, eight feet across. They're built up with vertical walls. All the rocks are about as big as a rock could be to carry it. They're not mixed together. They're built in stacks, and they're filling a whole acre of land, scrappy land, never got plowed. They're in lines. They're evenly spaced. They're forming a grid. They're nothing like this pile over on Wetherby Avenue, which is obviously a field-clearing pile. You want to know what field-clearing looks like. Go to the--. Go to Great Book Farm in Carlisle. Go to behind the farmhouse. Go to the bottom of the field. Look at those piles of rock around the edge. That's what field clearing looks like. You want to see field clearing, go to Wetherby. Go to the top of the field, take a left. Top. Look what field clearing piles look like. Then you want to see something that's obviously different, go to the top of Springhill Road and look there, at those things.
Turns out that there's a whole bunch of little rock piles in the woods that--. If you try to fit them in to a hypothesis of an agrarian, practical use, such as disposal of rocks, it just doesn't work. And a different hypothesis is, well the Native Americans built that for some reason which we're still trying to understand. But it's a better explanation, because, for example, I have on my maps here, where all the rock piles are found in Billerica Quandrangle [sound of map rustling]. And these pencil marks here. And this is the same map that is part of Concord, the Maynard Quadrangle. And as it turns out, as it turns out, were these rock piles are located is along this body of land here, which is the Nashoba--. It's sort of the edge of the Nashoba upthrust. It's actually an interesting geological feature. There's sort of a vein of limestone that runs through here and all the way up to Cape Ann. And I'm not sure why all the rock piles are mostly associated with that piece of land. I think it's because it's high ground. It's scrappy ground. It's where farming never had a chance to destroy them. So, farming doesn't create rock piles. There's plenty of rocks in Concord, but there are very few rock piles. I can tell you that as a matter of fact. And--.
MK: Because the fields were cleared for agriculture?
PW: Yeah, but they weren't cleared into piles. They were cleared into walls.
CK: So the piles are for what—
PW: Well there's a lot of different purposes.
CK: --in both those instances?
PW: Which instances?
CK: You--. Wetherby and Springhill.
PW: Those are for clear--. Wetherby, they're for, the field that was cleared. It's a field clearing.
CK: For agriculture.
PW: For agriculture. At Springhill--.
CK: Native people. Native people's farming.
PW: No, no, no, no. No.
PW: Farmers farming. It's just a boring, it's an uninteresting thing.
CK: Oh, okay.
PW: Farmers disposed--. It's true. Farmers occasionally would dump their rocks at the edge of the field, usually at the lower end of the field. It's not an uncommon thing. But much of Carlisle and Acton is rocky country. It was never plowed. It's swampy, rocky, remaindered land. And the only agrarian use of it that ever was, was cutting down trees. You wouldn't even let your livestock in there, because they'd break their ankles on the rocks. So this--. We're talking about land that was never disturbed. And that's where all the rock piles are. It's actually--. If you look at the overall thing, it's where hills meet water. It's where--. These are the sources of many of the brooks that are coming out of here. It's where hills meet water. And they're not all the same types of things. It's understood that Native Americans would create donation piles as memorials. What's not understood is that the Native Americans, for example, had a very complex archeo--. A very complex astronomy. So for--. Since at Springhill, which is a place that we've now surveyed three times, it looks a lot like the rock piles are lined up with the Solstices. But we don't know yet what's going on. It's still a puzzle. It's a little bit like--. Whatever. Some of these megalithic sites in Europe they haven't figured out. You know, they're still trying to figure out Stonehenge, right? You'd think that they'd have, they'd know my now. Right?
So anyway, there are rock piles in the woods. And I have gotten interested in them. And I started looking for them. And I have now found more rock pile sites than anybody believed existed. I have on the maps here something like 500 or more individual rock pile sites. Everyone of these is an archeological site, in my opinion. And they're all worth preserving, and they're all beautiful. I mean if I took you to one of these you'd go, "Wow. That's funny. I never saw anything like that." And then--. I think a lot of people have seen these, but they've only seen it once. So you go, "Wow, that's funny. That's interesting." Yawn. But it's like, I got interested in, because cheap gas and--. You know, I'm responsible for the gusher in the Gulf [the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico from a British Petroleum oil well leak] as much as anybody else. But I've been driving around looking, every weekend, twice a weekend, driving, looking, driving, looking. So I've gotten to know--. I have--. I can say with a certain amount of pride that I've been up every hill in Middlesex County. And nobody else in, alive can say that. I've been in almost every conservation land I've poked my nose in everywhere, because I wanted to know and look.
MK: This is amazing.
PW: And, look at all, all these sites. [showing map]. They're all over the place. And every one of them is interesting. So now, Concord--. Let me speak about the places in Concord. This is important. There are two major hills in Concord. I wonder if any of your other oral historians have mentioned that. One of them's called Punkatasset Hill, and the other one's called Annursnac Hill. I can't tell you what those mean, except I believe.
MK and CK simultaneously: Can you spell it, please?
PW: Let's see. Annursnac. A-double N-U-R-S-N-A-C. Now, somehow, that word is associated with eating strawberries. Annursnac. It's Strawberry Hill Road. And strawberry--. So I'm wondering, is it possible that Annur means strawberry and snac means snack?
CK: In what language?
CK: Okay. And.
PW: Algonquin is full of non-Algonquin words.
CK: And the other—Spelling of the other hill, please.
PW: Punkatasset? Let's see. On the map it's P-U-N-K--. Are you writing?
CK: I'm listening.
PW: Oh, the--. Okay. P-U-N-K-A-T-A-double S-E-T. Punkatasset Hill. Just look at my map here for a second. You'll notice that both of these hills have a big rock pile site on their northern sides. So y'all just go check it out, but if you get to the northern side of Punkatasset Hill, you walk back and forth, you'll see the rock pile site there. Do the same on Annursnac Hill, you'll see the rock pile site there. It's got a big one. I don't know if these involve burials or not. So here's a question that one could ask. Where are the Native American burial grounds? Where are the Indian burial grounds? . . . everybody's--. Since we all watch TV, we all know about the old Indian burial ground. Thoreau mentions--. I'm not a Thoreau scholar, but I read a little bit of his Concord and Merrimack, Seven Days on the Concord and Merrimack, that book. He took a trip with his brother in a boat. And as they float past Billerica, they make the comment that they can see the Indian graveyard on the hillside. And you're going, "Come on, Thoreau. Tell me what you see." All he--. He just mentions seeing it. Doesn't mention what it looks like. It's probably the case that some of the Native Americans buried their dead underneath rock piles. Some of the Native Americans buried their dead in one place and put other rock piles, that are not burials, but are part of the memorial, nearby. And more or less it's a reasonable guess that a lot of this has to do with mortuary practices.
So I will tell you where the Native American graveyard is in Concord, and you keep this to yourself, okay?
CK: Well this is going on the tape, and--.
PW: I know. But who's going to think to go to the Library to figure out where to go pot hunting? Right? So, I'm going to tell you how to find the Yellow Birch Swamp Burial Ground. If I had one secret to tell the Town of Concord, this is it, because even the most expert people with Estabrook Woods have never seen this. And I was pleased to show--. Because we got some real experts on Estabrook Woods, and you show them something that they've never seen before in Estabrook Woods, they should naturally feel a little embarrassed that they missed that. But anyway, you go up Two Rod Road. You go past Hutchins Pond. It's on your left. And you stay on Two Rod Road. And you go about a quarter of a mile maybe a little less. And you'll see a stone wall coming in perpendicular to the road on your right. We're going north on Two Rod Road--. [looking at recorder] Are we okay?
PW: --out of Concord. We're going north on Two Rod Road into Yellow Birch Swamp. About a quarter of a mile, a little bit less, you see a stone wall coming in from the right, perpendicular to the road, not coming quite up to the road. If you look to your left, you'll see that the stone wall actually resumes to the west of the road. And if you want, you can go down to that stone wall to where it hits another stone wall at the edge—
END OF FIRST CD—1:19:44
BEGINNING OF SECOND CD
PW: --of the wetland. And you can follow that other stone wall north to where I'm trying to get you to. Or, you could do what I do, which is instead of doing anything when you cross the stone wall, you just notice it, and you continue north on the path for maybe another hundred yards. There's a place where it forks. There's a little side path forks off to the expensive houses over on the right. And around there you head straight west. You go downhill, and you hit a place that's surrounded by very peculiar stone walls that are zigzagging back and forth inexplicably. It goes about through five turns. There's a place where a brook goes through a culvert three times in a row. And for what? I'd have to show you a picture, but the stone walls are sort of zigzagging around and , I mean, it's like they're coming down and going out, and then going back in. And then the brook is going in and out, and you're going, "What is going on there?" It's an entire ruin of something there, which nobody knows what that is. But I can tell you that there's a triangle of land, slightly hirer, right behind it, that's enclosed by stone walls, making it a triangle. And it's filled with about thirty low piles of, on the ground. Many of them have one piece of quartz in it. And we don't know if this is a burial or not, because I'm not going to dig it up. But, if I had to say what a burial should look like, like this, it's that. I don't know that it is, but I always call it a burial ground.
There are two non-, two--. There are three places where the rock piles are not low and to the ground in each corner. One of them appears to be a turtle effigy. One of them appears to be a crow effigy, and the third one has been badly damaged that I can't make any sense of it.
CK: Effigies made out of the stone piles?
PW: Yeah. Yeah. So you'll find stone piles that appear to be shaped like something. Turtle shaped rock piles are pretty common. So the head and feet and the dome, and the tail. There's other things. There's this one place where lightning strikes all the time in Carlisle, and there seem to be a bunch of bird shapes underneath them on the ground. And you go, could those be thunderbirds? This is just my imagination. I don't know. There's--. You know, interpreting rock piles obviously is as much artistic wishful thinking as reality. You don't really know. Sometimes it's unmistakable that that's got to have been deliberate that it's made that way. And I could go on about that, but it's a rather hard to pin down reality, so I don't think it's worth talking about too much. But if you go out there and look around you'll see lots of different kinds of rock piles. And I'll finish up. Well maybe--. Tell it while you're thinking about it. That way, if you forget it later--.
So, I ended my story with arrowheads by telling you what's going on in the present, which was that there are not as many fields plowed as before, not as many arrowhead hunting opportunities as before, but I'm still going out. I'm going to spend an hour, one hour of, in the entire spring. Let me tell you a little bit about more where the rock pile stuff is going. But I'm not sure if I set the context properly. So I notice something funny in the woods with rock piles. I also started taking pictures of them. [sounds of map rustling]
CK: Fold and then talk.
CK: That's okay.
MK: You know there are—Say--. Well, go ahead.
PW: I said I--.
MK: This is absolutely remarkable.
PW: By the way, there's quite a few rock piles in West Virginia, if you check your local newspapers there's a lot of controversy going on about them. The people in West Virginia are just going, "Oh. Could these be Native American?" And then a few other people are going, "We've got some stuff like that on the next mountain over." So West Virginia's actually, is a hotbed of people becoming aware of rock piles. Georgia has been a place where people have been aware of rock piles for quite a long time. They have a very famous Eagle Mound down there. It's one huge quartz eagle shape made out of rocks. It's a mound, but it's made out of rocks. And they actually--.Down in Georgia, they actually do the dirty, and they dig up rock piles, and they look inside them. And they've found human remains in some. They found very peculiar ceremonial--. They'll find a bit of a turtle shell and a deer bone in the middle of a rock b--. They'll find a chunk of--. These guys dug up a rock pile in Freetown, Mass., and they found something like twenty pounds of hematite, which is the blood-red ochre which is used in burials from the Neanderthal onward. You know, you've probably heard of red ochre, or red paint.
MK: Umm hmm.
PW: That's out where prejudices against Native American existence aren't limiting the conceptualizing of the past the way that is happening here. So in West Virginia you don't have quite the same barriers we have in New England to seeing what's in front of your nose. In Georgia apparently they have very few such barriers, and Native American stonework is well-recognized, understood. It's I guess a budding field of research nowadays, because they're realizing that, gosh, every time they put in a federal project, you got to deal with this.
I was going to tell you more about the future and present of rock pile hunting, but I think I need to tell you some stories about the Indians first, and a very good story. I hope I have some time for this. So, one of the people I knew, from the New England Antiquities Research Association Board was a lady called Linda McElroy, who's in charge of the land stewardship program in Acton. Linda has long been a proponent of, you know, there's weird stuff in the woods. So there's people who don't know about the woods, and then there's the one who goes, "There's weird stuff in the woods." So I'm in that camp. And Linda McElroy, I knew her, she knew me. I did the webpage for the NEARA organization.
CK: Could you spell the name?
PW: What? Linda. L-I-N-D-A. Mc—Irish Mc. Elroy.
MK: Could you say, "I did the webpage" again?
PW: I did the webpage for the New England Antiquities Research Association, also called NEARA.
PW: NERA. And I was a member of the Board of NEARAfor several years. And I'm still considered a person of value to the organization. I push them around, and they don't mind. They push me around a little bit. Linda called me up one time where I was speaking with her. She said, "Susie Mitchell-Hart--." [sirens outside]
CK: Just a minute. This is great.
CK: What yo're saying.
PW: Good stuff? Good stories?
MK: They said--?
CK: It's good stuff.
PW: Susie Mitchell-Hart, who's a wheeler-dealer of a Parent-Teacher Association lady--. And I don't mean to mischaracterize her. She's a really nice lady. And she knows a lot of people, and she has a lot of interactions. I knew her, because my kids were in school with her kids. And she knew Linda McElroy, because she lives on the edge of Acton and is involved with many things. And she had introduced Linda to a fellow named Jic Davis, who lives on the corner of East Street and Pope Road in Car--.
PW: J-I-C Davis.
CK: In Car--?
PW: In Carlise, southern end of Carlise, right at the edge with Concord. Linda--. I was talking to her somehow by phone. She said, "You really should interact, contact this guy in Carlisle. He has got jade. He has got a place with this jade. He has got jade comeing out of the earth." What? Jade in Carlise? Peeshaw. Could not be! Don't be foolish. She said, "Well, get, you know, get in touch with this guy." So, I called him up. But he said, "Yeah, I got this p--, this p--." Turns out that limestone vein I was telling you about, actually it's got unusual geology along its edge. Carlisle has unusual garnets, copper mines, lime quarries, this , that and the other, as does Estabrook Woods. It's all part of that same peculiar geology I was telling you about. So, see how these stories all hang together?
So, I called out this fellow, Jic Davis. And he said, "Oh yeah, I got jade out here." Seemed like a kind of a cruffdy individual, backwoodsy kind of guy. "You know I got jade. Come on out; take a look at it." So I go over to his house. And turns out that he's living right next to one of the rock pile sites, one of the ones that I know. And--. I really should just tell you this story naturally. And so he and I are walking through this rock pile site, to get to his hade pit.
CK: In Carlisle?
PW: In Carlisle. It's all on Mr. Benfield's property. I tell you that name on purpose. So we go through there, and this guy shows me this--. Sure enough, something that's green, translucent material. I don't know if it's chemically identical with jade, but it's not a bad layman's word to describe a green, translucent, hard material. It comes in these little bits and pieces around the edge of this limestone. So he showed me that. And it was very nice, very interesting. Took a little piece. And we're heading home, back to my car, through this, back through the rock pile site. And I'm saying to him, "Gee, you know, I've been here. I was just her with my son a few weeks ago," because I had--. My exploration had gotten that far. I've explored out in spirals. We can talk about that more, I hope, later. But anyway, I'm showing this to this Jic Davis, and there's this place there where there's this big rock, let's say eight feet across, ten feet across. Big rock, sort of like a biscuit shape, triangular biscuit. And it has been cracked horizontally. Okay? And propped up on three wedges. Right? Just sitting--. This huge, multi-ton rock, somebody broke it off of its base, and then propped it up in three places.
And I'm pointing this out to this guy. And I'm going, "How about these rock piles?" And he goes, "Oh, that's field clearing, you know, people just getting rid of rocks. Oh, you bet. Oh, might've been doing some quarrying, just tossed them stuff out of the way, and--." Then we get to this table rock. It's called a dolmen in Europe.
PW: Dolmen. Like a Celtic--.
PW: Doll? Toll? Table? Dolmen. D-O-L-M-E-N. Anyway, propped rock. Okay? Propped boulder. And I'm going to him, "How about that? Is that from field clearing?" And he goes, "No, no, no, no. That was--. " And he pauses. He goes, "Well sometimes they broke a rock open just to see what the rock was like on the inside, you know, and then they decided that it wasn't any good, and then they moved on." I go, "Well yeah. Well then why would they prop it up on those three different things? That's a lot of work, right?" And he goes, "Well yeah--." And then he stopped and paused, and--. I'm making this part of it up, because I don't remember the exact details, but he paused, and he goes, "You know, you're right. That doesn't make any sense." This is in his backyard. He goes, "I've been walking past that for years. You're right. That doesn't make any sense. Huh." About three days later, he calls me up. He goes, "You know, you're right. I was looking at all this stuff. I—You know there's this Indian stuff all over the place, and--." He was off and running. He's really excited about it. Okay?
I had showed him a rock pile from Concord that consisted of a rock like a head, another rock like a "W," another rock like that, and then a pedestal. I thought, "Gee, it looks like a woman, because this looked like breasts and a head and, sitting there. But you know, clouds look like women too. So--. And they come and go. It's just--. Not the women, but the clouds. So it's like, doesn't really mean anything. But I had mentioned this to my friend from Carlisle, or maybe I hadn't mentioned it. So--. And he wasn't my friend at the time anyway. But he called me back up a few days after our first meeting. He says, "Yeah! I found this stuff all over! There's a whole bunch of more over here! And, you know, my wife found one. She says it looks just like a woman." Sitting there going, "Oh really? I got to come take a look at that." So I drive over to Carlisle as soon as I could, maybe the same day. And there's another rock pile that's not identical, but you know, in terms of if you were going to sketch it, identical to the one in Concord. There's one little rock pile on Hanscom Base, behind the buildings, on that thing they used to call Pine Hill, which, they haven't finished raping it completely, but there's a little pocket of--.
CK: Haven't finished what?
PW: Raping it completely, although they're making a good stab at it right now. I should mention that people who are building over there promised not to cut down the trees, but they just finished cutting down all the trees. So now Pine Hill is gone. Thank you very much. But anyway, there's one rock pile over there, out of place, one little effigy, and an identical one in Carlisle. And actually, this set me out on a course of trying to find out all the female effigies in the woods. And there's a couple places where there's lots of them, over by Grassy Pond in Acton, on the southern side of Grassy Pond, little place. There's quite a few really wonderful effigies. But I'm telling you the story of Jic Davis and how I first got to know him, because--. I don't know how much of this story I can tell, because we have committed crimes. Okay? We have done things that were wrong. We've done things that were right too. We did what we had to do. Benfield's land--. I'm going to say some nasty things here. My Benfield's an old man. He was a wealthy individual who owned many acres in Carlisle. When he began to be non compos mentis, no longer entirely with it mentally, his lawyers decided that it would be easier to manipulate his estate without his contribution. And they sort of kind of walled him up behind a housekeeper, so that Mr. Benfield's only contact with the world was through his lawyers. CK: This was the fellow you were, who had the jade?
PW: No, no, no. The fellow I had his jade was the forester working for Mr. Benfield, who was not part of the lawyer picture.
PW: And you could see what the lawyers were doing. Had trouble even getting to talk to Mr. Benfield and did not like what the Carlisle Conservation Fund was likely to do with the Benfield land. Having observed things like the president of the Carlisle Conservation Fund, a couple years after a big land donation's made, how come that guy now has a house right in the middle of that donated land? How did that work out? Okay. You got to see the land preservation around here has its--. What's the right word? Some people do it for the love of the land. Some people do it because of the advantages that it brings them. So, land conservation s--.
CK: Do you--?
PW: For example, okay. Do you know where the conservations lands are in Concord? They're well-hidden, because many of them were donated by people who wanted the tax relief, but they didn't want people walking in their backyard. So the entrances are hidden. Right? I don't know. I kind of don't like the whole concept of people preventing access to the public to things, having a special advantage which they then leverage into keeping other people away from things. You know? I mean everybody should get to be an elite, right? Elitism should be accessible to all, essentially. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be elitism, but it shouldn't be like a club. Right?
And I think my friend from Carlisle thought--. And I think there's legitimate reason for him having thought this--. That the lawyers were busily trying to divide up the Benfield estate, sell it off to the highest bidders and take what advantage they could from the situation. This being my friend's backyard, he didn't want a whole housing development going in there. And he was trying to figure out some way to interfere. Now I should not be telling you this. He was trying to figure out some way to interfere with the lawyers. Okay? So when I told him, "There's Indian archeology on this land," he figured out, "I can use that. I can--." So he made a big fuss, and he started calling up the Indians. Now this is very important. I think this is very important. My friend from Carlisle, Jic Davis started calling the Native Americans. He called the Narragansets. He called them once a month for two years. And they always said, "No. We can't talk to you. We've busy. Sorry. Out of the office. Not here. Try again. Some other time." After two years, he finally got someone to pick up the phone, and he'd been calling them for two years. He said, "You've got to come look at this stuff I have in Carlisle. I think it's Native American stuff." You got to come out here and check it out." Jic's very sociable. He got the Indians out of their shell, and they came up. Medicine men, tribal elders, ethnographers, whole troop. I didn't--. I'm resentful of the fact that I missed that original visit, because I did spawn it. It was my, my downstream. And I should've been there, but I wasn't.
They walked around, and the Indians go, "Wow. You're right. This is our stuff. We knew it was here, but we'd forgotten that it was exactly here." Now there's a whole side story about whether they're telling the truth or not. The fact is, they're not. They Indians have really forgotten almost everything about their prehistory here. They've forgotten where they were, and they've definitely forgotten what they're doing. The Nipmuc--.That's the Narragansets. The Nipmuc have not forgotten what they were doing, and they are still building rock piles today. I think the--. Not too many of them, and they're not doing a very good job. They don't really know what they're doing. I know more about it than they do, and I can see that they're sort of along the right track, but not really, whereas when a New Age person builds a rock pile next to the road, I recognize that too. I--. I'm bragging here, but after five years of every weekend looking at the stuff, I can read it in a way that you couldn't if you hadn't been doing it for the same length of time. I'm an expert at it. I can look at it.
Anyway, the Indians came up to Carlisle. They saw and they acknowledged. Now, we believe that the Native Americans made this stuff. And it's--. They believe that the Native Americans built this stuff. They are saying that they never lost track of this information. I deny that, because I actually was involved in educating them about the stuff, and I know when I'm telling somebody something that they've already heard, I think. Now, maybe I'm wrong. I think they dimly remember certain things. Ceremonies and rituals aren't something that everybody in a tribe would do. It would be restricted to a very small number of people in a tribe, would not have been common public knowledge.
The only thing that the Narragansets really did remember was that they had had a kind of a circuit, circular path that they'd followed, that there was a medicine man cycle of circle of some sort. They weren't sure where it went. Right? But when Jic Davis introduced the Indians to the stuff, they for the first time admitted, "Yes, this is our stuff." Now this is--. The NEARA group, the people who are fascinated by weird stuff in the woods, they've been trying to get the Indians to admit that it was them for years. I mean there's a lot of theories about who built this stuff. Celtic journey, you know, St. Brendan, Irish Vikings, this, that and the other. Now I think everybody who could've gotten to America did get to America. But I think that if you're in America long, you become a Native American. It's what you have to do to survive, whether you become it by figuring it out yourself, or getting absorbed in to an existing tribe, I don't know. But from my point of view, it's like, I don't care. It's interesting if your genetics are Viking. It's interesting if your genetics are something other than that. But these are the people who've been on the ground for years. And I know I'm not finishing, I'm not finishing my sentence properly here. Can't remember what I was saying. Something about NEARA. I've lost the thread.
MK: Well you were talking about the lawyers. And--.
PW: I'm telling you the Benfield story.
PW: That's important. Right. So there's a couple different stories to be told here. But the most important one is that NEARA and other people have been trying to get the Indians to say maybe they built some of them. We've been tying to figure out, who built this weird stuff. Could it have been you, oh Indians? Now you ask this Indian, that Indian, ask this other Indian. They all go, "No. No, never heard of that. Never heard of that." One guy goes, "Well yeah, my family did used to go to this big rock and do this thing once a year." Here little teeny, little hit. Got a little bit of a hit. But then finally the Narragansets came out after--. After visiting Carlisle, Doug Harris, who is by birth a Cherokee, but is married into the medicine man family of, you know, of the Narragansets, the royalty of the Narragansets, became their front man for discussing with the Carlisle people what was going on. Doug Harris--. I took Doug Harris on may walks, maybe five walks, maybe three walks, in the woods. And I showed the stuff to him. I said, "See? This is what it looks like. This is where it's found." It's found where water comes out of the ground, is where rock piles are, where water comes out of the ground, or, places that face west, one thing like that. And I showed him, and I showed him, and I showed him. And then he started revealing that they knew this stuff. How much he knew beforehand, let's say it doesn't matter.
I really do believe that the Indians built this. I don't believe that today's Indians remember much about it. They really don't. But I do believe that rock piles have been being built up until about the '60s, with knowledge. And I can tell you why I believe that. And then I think that there are still rock piles being built today. And I am sure of that, and I can tell you why. I found a rock pile where dirt had fallen off of the rock from the pile, onto the snow, that was fresh. So. And I saw the guy's tracks. So I know he was out there doing that. I know where there's a guy still building it. There's a guy in Acton still building stuff. He doesn't know what he's doing. There's a guy in Boylston, near Rangeway Road. I think that's the name of the road, Randall Road, Rangeway Raod, who's still building rock piles. Sort of knows what he's doing.
But I'm telling you the Benfield story. My friend--. I also want to tell you the story about the Indians revealing their knowledge of the rock piles. And I want to tell you the story of the Native American reaching out to the towns that's going on right now. It's a aspect of Native American-Anglo history which is born out of this moment. And it's very important. And I can feel quite proud to have been part of this new thing that's being born. I want to tell you more about that. But, I'm busy telling you the Benfield story. So, but it's mainly important because it was the spark that led to this still not raging but slow burning fire that's going on.
But anyway, so, let me put it this way. When I said, "We did things that were wrong," I won't say any--. I won't tell you really the details. But we arranged for it to look like Mr. Benfield invited the Indians to come. Actually, Mr. Benfield might've been more or less awake when he signed the thing that said to, "Please, Indians, come." He didn't actually write the thing that said, "Please, Indians, come." I had something to do with that. But anyway, as letter was signed by Mr. Benfield inviting the Indians to come, so the lawyers couldn't say, "No, the Indians aren't allowed to walk here." They had a signature. So, they came and then walked, and they saw. And they said, "This is ours. You cannot just bulldoze this." And this began a little bit of a ripple in the planning of the conser—Carlisle Conservation Fund, or Foundation. It's like, "Oh, gosh, we can't just divvy it up and sell it off to the highest bidder like we were planning. We actually have to, you know, negotiate with people. In the end, it's not clear what happened. We did more surveying. There were several different parcels. But the Carlisle Conservation Fund was in a sense blocked from simply, behind the scenes manipulating of that bit of real estate. That bit of real estate became very public. There were multiple articles written in The Carlisle Mosquito about, "Huh. Native American rock piles found in this thing," and then one thing and another.
So, the Benfield land story, which I haven't told very coherently, and I didn't want to tell it too coherently, because the role I played in making it look like the Indians were invited legally. They weren't really. But, it got the Indians out. And so then you had Doug Harris sitting with the small group of land owners at the Seward House, Fred Sewards, as in Seward's Folly. Same family. Harvard archeologist. Harvard astronomer. It's funny. Harvard astronomers retire, and then get interested in this stuff in the woods, because there's a lot of astronomy to be done. There's archeo-astronomy, and these are the--.
Most of the people who walk around the woods looking at stuff are not scientific. They're spiritual in their interests, or who knows what. But there's a few scientists. I'd like to hope that I'm one of them, in there actually trying to research the stuff, amidst the people who are trying to have spiritual experiences. "Oooh. Indians. Birth Mother. Goddess. Fertility. Blah, blah, blah, blah. The sky, the sun, the moon." It's like, "Come on. There's some rocks here. Let's just see what we could see, and--." I speculate plenty, but not in a spiritual way, in more of a concrete way. I want to know who built these. And I could say that the goal of archeology in general is to try to put a better face on the past. You want to know, "Who did this? When did they do this? Where did they do this? Who was related to who? What were their individual stories?" These are the things we want to find out from archeology. We don't care that they switched their diet from walnuts to hickory nuts. That's interesting, what they ate. Curtis Hoffman, who I mentioned earlier, makes fun of archeologists who consider the goal of archeology to be [to] figure out, what did they eat?" That's the least interesting thing about them. I mean how would you like it if your life was characterized by the food that you consumed? Right? "Well, I had Cheerios one day and Corn Flakes the next day." It's like--. [breaks off laughing]
MK: You know they ate something.
PW: Right. It's just part of the story, but it's not the big part of the story. So, Doug Harris came out. I showed him the stuff.
PW: Today he tells us--. Doug Harris is an Indian. Today he tells us that he always knew about the stuff and that we let the cat out of the bag, and that the Indians now have to admit that the stuff was theirs. I don't think it really happened that way. I think that we showed them that the stuff--. The cat was out of the bag. We were telling them that, "Your Indian stuff is all over the place." But, it's very much to the Indians' benefit to have this be known, to themselves, to the Anglos. And not benefit of, we get to grab the land and build a casino, benefit from the point of view of, we get to recover some of what has been lost from our culture. Some of the places which we maybe dimly heard about when we were kids, now they're becoming real to us again.
Very important set of events happened at Turners Falls, which is even further west. Turners Falls was the site of a massacre. Do we have time?
PW: Yeah. Turners Falls was the site of a massacre, back in the King Philip's War. And it was a place--. I can't remember if the Indians massacred the whites, or vice versa. I think both happened. And in both cases it was a pretty shitty set of events. And it left that town of--. What did I say it was called?
MK: Turners Falls.
PW: Turners Falls. Thanks. —traumatized. And they never recovered from. So even in the 19--. Just recently, 1970s, recently, going, "We've really--. This is just such a terrible history. Can't we do something? Can't we reconcile with the Indians somehow?" So they had a reconciliation ceremony. Very nice, I guess, where the Indians came up and said, "We forgive you."
CK: In 1970s, you're saying?
PW: No. More like--.
MK: More recently.
PW: Yeah, like probably in the last ten years.
PW: The Indians came up and said, "We forgive you. Let this town be blessed again." Turners Falls was a fishing, big fishing place, because it was where the--. You know, it's like one of these places where the salmon jump out of the river, and everybody fishes for them there? And it's a get together for everybody. So it was a big place for the Indians, and then the whites built mills there and whatever. So, most recently, the Indians went out and had a reconciliation at Turners Falls. Then--. And I want to get these things sequentially correct, because it's easy to get them confused, and the Indians are already mixing this up, but I think to some extent deliberately. They don't really want it to be clear that I showed them this stuff. They want it to be that they always knew this stuff. And I'm not the only person. I'm just me. There's other people showing them this stuff too. But I'm very much part of the story with Doug Harris, the Narragansets, the Turners Falls thing.
They had gone out to Turners Falls for a reconciliation story, ceremony. And it was around that time that I was showing Doug Harris the stuff in the woods.
CK: In--? Benfield?
PW: Benfield brought Doug Harris up. But beyond Benfield I was forming a relationship with Doug Harris, showing them things in the woods.
CK: Including in Concord?
PW: I don't know if we went--. Yeah, we did go one place in Concord. Yeah, we went to Annursnac Hill in Concord.
MK and CK simultaneously: Spelled?
PW: I already spelled it for you.
MK: Oh, all right. We got it.
PW: Come on!
CK: You did?
PW: It means strawberry snack, remember?
CK: Oh, oh, yes.
CK: Got you.
PW: Oh, boy, I can't remember now. If--.
CK: Okay, so Doug H--.
PW: Doug Harris--. Wait. Wait, wait, wait. Turners Falls.
CK: After the reconciliation.
PW: Turners Falls. It was around the time of the Turners Falls things that Doug Harris was also getting tours of the woods from me, being introduced to the stuff by Jic, up in Carlisle, and starting to realize that this stuff is real. White guys are starting to be aware of it. Indian guys are starting to be aware of it. It's real. Doug Harris is a politician and an orator. He's a wonderful person, sort of like Barack [Obama] in a sense. He could charm a bird out of tree, verbally. And he started making this stuff part of his, sort of his standard schtick, his spiel. And then what happened was that the airport at Turners Falls wanted to expand. And that's a Federal project and requires Native American participation. But, I'm forgetting something. After I showed Doug Harris these sites, he said to me, where would you say this stuff is? And I gave him a list of towns. I gave him a list of eight towns: Concord. Carlisle, Acton, Harvard, Stowe, Boxboro, Bolton--. Oh, let's put one more in there. I don't remember. I don't know. Westford, maybe. Who knows. I can't remember what the list was.
They then did a thing called the USET Resolution. Doug Harris went to the Congress of Eastern Native American Tribes. United South and Eastern Tribes. We white guys don't realize this, but the Indians have their own Congress. It's called USET. You--. It's a place where the tribes get together and agree on shared policies.
MK: It's called USET?
PW: United South and Eastern Tribes. Current president, I think is Cheryl Maltese, who's the medicine woman, I think is the correct word maybe not, for the Aquinnah or the Gay Head Wampanoags on Martha's Vineyard. Doug Harris went from the woods here to a USET meeting in, I don't know, Washington, D.C. or something. And he stood up in front of all of the South and Eastern Tribes and said, "There are sacred places in the towns of New England, and we have to act now to get these things protects. We need to work with the towns, not the state, not the Federal government. I'm setting out a policy. I want you guys to approve of this policy. Indians will work with towns. And I will name them. And he named eight towns, the names that I gave him to name. And they made a resolution. They said, "Anybody who asks us for help in trying to protect these things, we must respond. We recognize and acknowledge the existence of our sacred sites that we've left behind, and if anybody from one of the towns wants our help in trying to protect them, we stand ready." That was their resolution.
PW: And in part because of that, they went back to Turners Falls at the airport expansion, and they decided to look around, and they found rock piles right next to Turners Falls airport. And they said, "No, you cannot bulldoze this hill." And so they stopped the airport expansion. And they got it listed as a National Register Historic Place kind of thing. Now this is very interesting. Last year, at a NEARA meeting, by phone, they had the, speaking over the phone, they had the then president of USET speaking. His name, I can't remember. He was from a tribe in Alabama or Georgia. And he said, "We didn't know about this stuff until you told us," talking to Doug Harris. "We didn't know about this stuff until you told us. And now we've been applying the same principles that you did at Turners Falls. And we're now protecting some of the sites down in Alabama." If--. By the way, I think that was Oxford, Alabama. And I don't think that fight went too well. If--. You guys could look it up if you want. The Oxford Mound. It's like Wal-Mart bulldozed--. Wal-Mart and Sheriff bulldozing ancient Indian mound kind of story.
But anyway, the important thing, form my point of view is that the guy who is the president of the South and Eastern Tribes speaking the words, "We didn't know about that stuff until you told us." He was speaking to Doug. But I know where Doug found out about it. Okay? So, one way or another--. And I'm maybe more vociferous and a little bit more solid in some ways than a lot of the other NEARA people. And I've found a lot more stuff than they have. But I'm not--. I didn't create this subject. I didn't create wthe awareness of these things in the woods. I came along. I heard about it. And I've been elaborating it myself.
So, but my role in bringing the Indians out and creating--. So there've been at least one, maybe two more USET resolutions. The USET Tribes have now resolved that they aren't going to work with--. By the way, federal government works with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Corps of Engineers, the Army Corps of Engineers--. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Native American tribes have a close relationship, because they Army Corps of Engineers has to do a lot of projects that are federal projects. All federal projects require Indian okaying, that the land is okay to, to screw with. I don't know how that came about, but that's, that's the current law. And now there's this whole new dimension to things that you can't screw with. Right? You can't screw with these burials in the woods. But you can't screw with the prayers either. You can't screw with the effigies. You can't screw with the astronomical alignments and the churches of various forms that they've built out there. You're not supposed to screw with them. That has now come to be, formally, within the federal development process. And so, they had another resolution that said, "We urge all federal groups that we're going to be working with to familiarize themselves with this information." So that was the second USET resolution. And I--. You know I think that's--. I can feel proud of that. I mean, something happened there.
MK: It's amazing. What--? What about the present landscape, all the development that's going on in the Concord area now? What effect does this have on these kinds of resources?
PW: In Concord, I think the--. Let me--. Before I forget, let me list where the sites are in Concord. There's one on Annursnac Hill, which is conservation land. There's one on Punkatasset Hill, which is conservation land.I think it's owned by Harvard? I'm not sure. There's one at Willow Guzzle conservation land. There's a number of rock piles along the ridge.
PW: Willow Guzzle Conser--.
PW: Guzzle, as in guzzling wine, I guess?
MK: Umm hmm.
PW: Willow Guzzle conservation land. If you go from, whatever that road to Nine Acre Corners, in towards the east, towards the ridge there, through the swamp, up onto the ridge, you'll find traces of rock piles on the western facing slope of that ridge. And all the way on the north end where the ridge degenerates into swamp and wetland, there's a little bit of a burial on the ground there, which I couldn't find the other day. I went to look for it. But I remember that there's something there. So there's a little bit of something. Willow Guzzle. Punkatasset. Annursenac. And, Yellow Birch Swamp. I told you about what I consider the graveyard there. There's one rock pile isolated by itself on Pine Hill, but in Hanscom Field. I know of--. There's some rock piles behind the guy's yard in--.
Yeah, okay, well let's head up--. Let's go up north on Lowell Road. Shall we? Because Estabrook Woods'll be on our right. And I just mention that right at Hilderth's Corner there's no rock piles, it's just houses, fancy houses. And then you keep going for a few yards. And there's that--. I have to look up the road on the map. Can't remember what it's called. It's a private road. Heads into Estabrook Woods. [sounds of paper shuffling while searching map] What's it called? Can I even figure that out? Oh, where is it?
No, it's not marked. It's a road--. It's like the fourth--. It goes over towards Farmer's Cliff. It's a private road, cuts deep into Estabrook Woods, comes up almost toward the south of Middlesex School. And the next house on Lowell Road has a bit of a swamp next to its driveway. And there's actually some rock piles right there. It's funny. It took me years before I noticed them driving by, but they're visible from Lowell Road in the winter. And then if you were to happen to take this private road, which, I can't--. I'm sorry I can't remember what it's called. You could--. Find a place that there are trails that go in towards Estabrook Woods. And if you want, you can get out and go visit the Boaz Brown Cellar Hole, which is right there. And you'll see--.
PW: B-O-A-Z. And you can ask yourself the following question. "How come there are rock piles all over the Boaz Brown cellar hole?" Or, you can ask an even better question. Go all the way to the end of Estabrook Road through the woods, and you'll get to Kibby Place in Carlisle. And if you happen to have a helpful person who knows the woods there, to tell you, he'll show you how to get to the Kibbe Cellar Hole.
PW: Although I think I've seen it spelled other ways. The Kibbe Cellar Hole, which is at the north end of Estabrook Woods on the Estabrook Road, is also surrounded by rock piles. Now you ask yourself, "What's the story there?" Here's this guy who's in Colonial history. I'll tell you what I remember reading about Kibbe. And yet his cellar hole, his foundation of his house is now gone. And what's left is a whole bunch of rock piles in the--? I mean not where his foundation is, but next to it there's a big rock pile? Over there's a big rock pile? And, what's going on?" If he was clearing fields, why was he doing it into his yard? It gets worse. There's a prayer seat built from rocks that were obviously borrowed from the stone wall, just above and looking out over Kibbe's place. So somebody came after the stone wall was built, pulled it apart, and built a prayer seat, to look out over Kibbe's place. What's going on with that? You can go take a look at these things if--. It's a little stone "U," made with boulders about this big, a little "U," about big enough for a person to sit in, facing I guess south or southwest or something. So you're going, "What's up with that?"
So here was a guy, Kibbe. Kibbe is supposed to have been a very big man. And his daughters were huge. They were all big people. They were so big--. This is all--. This is told in the thing that I read. They were so big that he couldn't get them all to church, because he only had like one horse, or two horse. He didn't have enough horse to get all of his daughters to church. So he's take one of them a week. And they'd have to rotate, but so once--. They got to go once every three weeks or something? So this is all I've heard about Kibbe. Big guy. And when his house was part of what was about to become incorporated as the Town of Carlisle, he said, "Uh uh. I didn't--. I didn't--. I didn't do this, that and the other for this. I want to stay as part of Concord." They said, "Okay, you could be part of Concord. So, the Town border made a little digression, diverged--. What do you call that? It went around his property in such a way as to leave him connected to Concord. I don't think after a few years anybody cared much anymore. But that's what we know about Kibbe, from the, without further archival research, which I'm not the kind of right person to do.
Big guy. Oddball guy. Right? Now, here's my question. Was Kibbe a Native American, pretending to be a white? Because the way the Native Americans survived was to stop being Native American, not really, but to all appearances. They became French. They became Irish. They became eccentric people living at the edges of town. I don't know. But after Kibbe left, there were rock piles built, after he left. I know this, because I mean the stone wall, presumably, if you want, is from Kibbe's period. And yet, you can go up above his property, and you can see where they pulled the rocks off the stone wall, because the stone wall's there, and it's missing the rocks. And then you can see, and you can count them. Here are the rocks, and they're in a little "U" shaped structure. Did something really go to that bother so they could go out and drink some beer? I don't think so. Somebody built a "U" there for some reason. You--. If you look at the rock piles at Kibbe's place, there's some of them are pretty peculiar. I mean it's not just dumped rock. There's one place where there's a boulder with like a wall built up on top of it. And you don't know. Could that have been a crib for something, corn or what? I don't know. I find--. When I find rock piles at a house site like this, they're the most mystifying of all. Really don't know what's going on. I visited one. I think it was yesterday. I get them mixed up. Yesterday or the day before. There's a number of places where there's cellar holes surrounded by rock piles. And I don't really know what's going on there.
Let me just almost be done now, okay, but. I've told you the Benfield story. I've showed you the maps. The main clusters of rock piles are following this upthrust of land that, at the upper right is in Carlisle and then it goes down into Acton and cuts across into Stowe, and goes into Bolton, touches on Harvard, goes out past Boylston.
MK: And it's essentially a ridge, or--?
PW: It's a ridge or really cruddy land that water's just seeping out of, and for some reason it's where all the rock piles are. I think the Native Americans that were left here when the Anglos came weren't rich, didn't have good land. So the places where their stuff would've been least disturbed and most refreshed would've been the edges of towns, so the useless land at the edges of things, the forgotten land, the fringe land, the remaindered land.
So, I've been looking at rock piles now--. Now I'll come back to a little more personal. I've been looking at rock piles for four or five years. I found more of them than anybody else in the world. I blog about them. You know what a blog is? So I have a daily blog which doesn't get a daily entry every day, but I've got about three days' worth of stuff already, because I saw sites yesterday, and I saw sites the day before that, new sites.
MK: And you keep entering all this information on the blog?
PW: I try to, try to keep up with it. There's an ongoing question about how much I reveal, because you don't want people going to tear these things up, out of the misguided belief that there's something inside them. There usually isn't anything inside them, as far as I know. I've never dug one up.
So, what more do I want to tell you? I've found hundreds of these things, and over time--. At first you start trying to classify them as big, small, made out of this, made out of that, coming in groups of three, that sort of thing. And then eventually, the things that you really should be paying attention eventually begins to penetrate your consciousness. And I mean the key question that I have is how many different groups of people were building rock piles in the past, and were the reasons and motivations different. And you know, it's like I say, what you want to know about the past is who did what where and when, and who else did it, and how were they related, and what are their stories? This is what you want to figure out.
You start off here in Concord, and most of the rock pile sites are low, where they're near the wetlands. And then you go out a little bit more towards Boxboro and Harvard and you start finding rock pile sites on the tops of hills, ore than you do around here. And then you get out into the Fitchburg area, or also a little bit further south, and you find many rock pile sites really on prominent places to look out. Okay? And you start trying to understand what's where. I've had a lot of fun exploring Leominster State Forest and the, a place called Mount Elam in Leominster. You go to the southern end of Mt. Elam Road, south of Route 2, and you just follow the dirt road into the woods, and it won't be long before you come into an area that is filled with probably fifty huge stone mounds. I mean these things are impressive. And they should absolutely be on every tourist map. It's like, Leominster--. They don't know what they've got. They've got this city of the--. They've got the--. What do you call it? The capital of the inland empire, is out in Leominster. But--.
Let me talk a little bit more coherently. You start out around here, and you see little rock piles in the swamps, mainly is what it's about, it's swampy sort of stuff. And you see examples of rock piles that look like they're shaped in some way. Like I found a rock pile shaped like a fish. Just looked like a fish. I mean, you look at it. You go, "Yeah. That looks like a fish." You know, it has got a tail, and--. You know, it has got fins and a tail It's next to a river. Right? And then you see a spiral on the ground. And you go, "Is that a snail, or is that a medicine andoginous, psycho-active experience, or something more mundane, like it's a picture of the food supply, snail. It's a picture of a fish, food supply. We're right here, next to where they come--. Snails and fish come from right there. I don't know. That's what you see here in this part of the town. And as I say, it's a little bit different out in Boxboro, slightly different in Harvard. And then you cross the big divide of the Nashua River and you get out into the hills, west and south of Leominster and Fitchburg. And then it's very much a different picture, qualitatively. You say the mounds are bigger. Something else is going on out there.
So I'm going to tell you a very particular story, which is my current preoccupation. I've been noticing, for some time, that a lot of the larger rock piles have a hollow in them, place little caved in place. And you have different explanations for what that hollow might be. And maybe it would be a mistake to say that all hollows are the same. This is very obscure stuff, so bear with me. I'm the only person in the world who cares about this, but maybe somewhere, some, in the future someone'll care about this.
CK: The rock or the rock piles have those?
PW: The rock pile is here, and it'll be like a little concavity in the middle of the pile. Some people think it's for a seat, a place to sit. Other people think, "That's where a vandal tried to dig a hole." But lately I've come to the belief that a lot of times it's an interior chamber that has fallen in. Okay? It's perfectly possible that none of these are true, or that all of these are true. But I'm just going to go with, for the moment, my sense that some of them--. I mean I--. So. I'm walking with my friend from Carlisle, Jic Davis, and but we're up by Woodbridge Road in Carlisle. And then there's--. We're walking along the edge of a swamp in a place where I never would've expected to find any rock piles, because usually rock piles, there's some kind of view, or some kind of water source or something. And this thing is just--. Not the edge of a swamp. Or an edge of a marsh. And we start coming to rock piles. And they're just like messy--. Look like they're just somebody discarded rocks. Easy to believe that these are just pushed to the edge of the viable land. But then we come across one, and it's a rectangle. It's a nice rectangle, maybe a ten feet by eight feet .Or no, make that twelve feet by ten feet. Nice solid rectangle. How high is that? Three and a half feet high.
MK: Three and a half feet.
PW: And in the middle of it is a rectangular hole. And it's rectangular. You can see that it's rectangular. And I'm not making this up. We could go look at it. But I have the pictures. I'm not lying! And so you're going, "Somebody went to some bother, because this is a constructed hole, alright, with rectangular sides, in the middle of the pile." And then at the end of the pile--. This is very funny. There's this little bit of a stone wall for about eight feet, a little tail. It's stuck out of the thing. So you got this very strange structure, a rectangular structure of around the dimensions I described, little bit of a stone wall coming off of it, and a rectangular hole in it. You go, "That's, that's definitely a deliberate hollow. That's a--. Now that's a hollow," you say to yourself. And that's not something that somebody vandalized and dug in there. And that's not a seat to be sitting somewhere. That's an interior chamber in this thing. It's square. I don't know why.
Now let's go back and look at those three piles we just passed that we didn't really make much sense out of. You go back and look at them, go, "By God, that one's got a hollow in exactly the same location. And look! It's got a tail too!" So then we walk along, and there's a third one, rectangular pile, hollow, not such a nice rectangular hollow, but more like a de—de--. What do you call that?
PW: A depression. I was going to say a depravity! A depression with a little bit of a tail sticking out of the thing. Now I say, "Now that is very, very characteristic structure. I don't know what the heck that's for, but I know when I see the same three things in a row that there's something there." And anybody who wants to talk about this being field clearings like, "Go away. You know, we've got--. The grownups are here to talk about the real subject matter. If you want to talk about the facts, fine. If you want to talk about field clearing, go away." You know, I just have no interest in talking to people who are that much oblivious to the reality. So, here we are--. And I'm going, "You know, that's so structured and so characteristic, I bet you I can find some more now that I know what to look for." So I said, "Now this is unusual, because unlike some other places--." I've been looking at hollows all spring. I've been looking at hollows, mostly on prominences that look out over the valley, or look out towards Mount Wachusett . I've been trying--. I had been looking at them in places like Boylston and Hopkinton, little bit south of here. But they're up high. And this is down low near the water, in Carlisle, where I found these things with tails. So I took out the map. I said, "I think this is part of that same tradition that I associate with Mount Wachusett. I think that this is stuff that's further from the, more to the west than to the east. So I'm going to go--. I want to go--. I think I found some stuff like that by a place called Muddy Pond in Westminster. So, you know, why don't I go--. Split the difference. Let's go north of Fitchburg. Take out the map." I don't have my Fitchburg map, but "Take out the map. North Fitchbug. Look for some bodies of water. Okay? Where I can walk around. Oh, okay. Here's a nice looking little body of water, Rite's Pond," or Rite Ponds. I don't know where you put the "s" there.
PW: That's what I'm telling you. I don't know if it's Wright Pond or Wright's Ponds, or Wright's Pond, or Wright Pond.
CK: The first letter is--?
PW: Yeah. W-R-I-G-H-T, apostrophe S. P-O-N-D-S. Plural. But, interestingly, it has a Native American name that also seems to refer to a pair of ponds. It's not clear that--. It's two ponds with a little brook between them. And I don't know what happens downstream. But it's not--. It doesn't look too manmade. It's just like a natural pair of ponds with a short stretch of brook. So I got out there, and I was planning to walk around the pond one way, but I couldn't because there was gunfire coming from that direction. And, you know, it's scary walking in the woods when there's bullets flying around. I could tell you about that too. That would be interesting, what it's like to walk in the woods and get scared by something, a moose, a hunter, an irate landowner. But anyway, between Wright Ponds--. So, I couldn't go the way I wanted to, so I just walked down the road to the, where the road crossed the brook that joined the two ponds. And I was like, "Oh, look. There's some rocks over there in the weeds." And I go down and I look. Remember what I'm looking for, is rock piles with a hollow and a tail. And that's what was there. So I go down, and I go, "Gee, that's just a mess. Oh, oh, oh there's the tail. Oh! There's the hollow. Got it. Perfect. Is there anything else around here? Oh, yeah, I can see a couple rock piles over there in the bushes, but what about, what's that over there?"
And then I found a different one which is a different style, which is basically a rectangular pile like this. You have to look for a second. Like that, with a hollow, right there. Just, like a place where there's grass growing up in one spot. But otherwise it's a rock pile. It's an o--. It's a rectangular rock pile, about this high, or this high.
CK: How high?
PW: This--. Not high. A foot or so high. Low to the ground. And there's grass growing up in one space. And I tell you, I've seen that now, over and over and over. So like the next weekend I go out with my wife. I say, "Let's go drive next to some brooks. Let's find some brooks up near, north of Fitchburg, across the brook on West Ashby Road, across the Falula Brook." Don't ask me where the name comes from. I'm looking out the window. I go, "Oh. Isn't there something in the bushes over there?" Arrr. Pull over. There's this rectangle with the grass growing up in this one little quadrant of it. Other side of the road, something much more confusing and tumbling. I said, "Maybe we should look around a little bit more, go deeper, down along the brook a little bit." There's some huge mounds in there. I go, "Are they hollows? Have those got hollows?" So, what is this about? I have to come up with some answer. That's inherent to being an amateur, is you look, you observe, you try to speculate about what you're seeing. Unrestrained by the academic stuff that saying things can cause, be equivalent to getting, losing a job, I have the wonderful luxury of saying whatever I feel like about this, and not worrying about losing my job.
MK: And what is it that's to be said about these things?
PW: That these are probably burial mounds. That's what they are everywhere in the world. You know, you put up a pyramid-shaped thing, large or small, and you do it because you put a body in it. And it's part of an elaborate physics, if you want, because religion isn't different from physics, in a non-industrialized society. It's the physics of how the soul gets to heaven. You know, the pyramids are all supposed to be an elaborate mechanism for getting the soul up in to the stars. Right? And I think that, you know, the Mayans, and their pyramids, what do you find in the middle of the pyramid? You find a body? So, you know, if it was like here as it is elsewhere, mounds here would be to be burial mounds. That's what they're for. I think the hollow is where the body went. And now--. I don't know about this, but Native Americans apparently would move the remains of their ancestors when they would move. They'd take their bones with them. Do you know this? At least in some tribes. The reason this is know is because they've dug up skeletons that had soil from a different place in them. Right? So apparently the Native Americans--. This isn't too different from the Chinese. They would inter remains, but then they would disinter them. I guess that's the phrase. And then they would take them, re-inter them in some other location! As long as it's got to be interred, interred, re-interred, disinterred. Okay! So it goes back, comes back in a cycle.
I don't know. I mean you're looking at these rather elaborately constructed structures. And by the way, there's many different kinds of rock piles in the woods. I'm only talking about one narrow group of them. The reason I'm, it's important to me, this one narrow group, is because it's the first--. This is--. Speaking about rock piles with hollows in them, that provides me to say, "I know this one thing. All right? I know this rock pile with a hollow. I recognize that as a rock pile with a hollow. I recognize that as a hollow. It's rectangular. It has a tail if it's down by the water. Up in the height, they lose the tail for reasons which I don't know. But they're still rectangular. They still have the hollow. This is one thing that I know. And if I know this, I can start looking at other things from the point of view of what I do know. Okay?"
So, first part of the story is, I-- recognizing the hollows and then seeing some of them associated with rock piles with tails on them. And I start tracking them, tracking the long-tailed rock pile through the wilds of Middlesex County. It's the name of my adventure book. It's got a picture of a guy with muscles and girls climbing up with me, standing on top of a pile. You've seen that picture right? Like National Lampoon!
So where am I? So this one particular type of rock pile, rock piles with hollows and with tails, permits me to sit there and go--. Well first of all, I track that. And I can tell you, there's very few of those in this part of the world. And I--. There's one down in Lincoln that I know about, and that's it. The next one that I know in this far east--. We're talking about rock piles with hollows. Is in Framingham. And there's not a whole lot fo them. All right? But I can go to any hill around Wachusett, and if it faces wachusett, if it hasn't been built on--. And let's come back to your question about how is building impacting this. And I can look for these things, and I find them. I know where to look I know where they are. And I understand what they are; at least I believe so. It's a coherent theory, whether it's correct or not maybe doesn't matter. It's a coherent theory, that there was a culture associated, which I call the Wachusett tradition, that built burial mounds that included enclosing probably just the bones, maybe not the rest of the body, in a little hollow and building it into a rock pile. I think the tail on some of these rock piles represents the edge of an open enclosure that was adjoined to the rock pile, where probably some part of the funerary activity was going on. So if they were leaving a body out to dry in the sun, or if they were burning it and chopping it into pieces, whatever you would do to get the bones, I don't know, that would maybe go on outdoors, in this little enclosure.
I don't know, I'm just saying you got a rock pile, and you got this hooked thing next to it, over and over again. It's part of the structure. It's--. It has a function. I don't know what the function is, but I have to sort of put together a picture, so instead of my picture of the great game hunters looking a lot like Crow Magnum and Neanderthal, I'd put together a picture of a burial mound and Indians preparing a body in the open place, and leaving a cist. Is that the right word? Or a crypt? What's the right word? That either a fetal positioned body, or the bones would go in afterwards. And then you'd cover that over. And the reason they're open today ins because neither one was covered. Neither the tailed part or the hollowed part was not always capped with stones. Sometimes it would be capped with brush, I guess. And so today it's open. And there's nothing there.1:01:47
Anyway, to make a long story just even a little bit longer, I—tracking the hollow rock piles with tails through the wilds of Middlesex County, out to Westminster, down through Leominster, and swinging back around into Boylston and down into Hopkinton. I can now say, "I know this one thing. I know that this is one of the cultures that was doing one of the things." So, why is this valuable to me is because I get to go look at something else now and say, "Now is that part of this culture, or is that something different?" So I use the word Wachusett tradition as a concession, or acknowledging of the fact that many of these sites seem to be around Mount Wachusett, facing Mount Wachusett. It's an inland manifestation. It's not a coastal manifestation, at least I don't think it is. So for example, the weekend before last, I wanted to go look at a big mound that I knew of down in Weston. Do I mean Weston? I think I mean Weston. Um. Yeah, near Weston College, off of Ripley Lane. I say these things so people can find them if they want, because I wanted to know. I know that there was a big mound down there, and I took pictures of it in the past, but I didn't know whether I should look for hollows or look for tails, okay? So I go down there and I look. And what do you know, it's not rectangular. What do you know? There is no hollow. What do you know, there is no tail. Well, okay. It's not a big deal, But what that means to me is that that's something different. So I'm trying to explain, what does knowing about hollows mean? It means that I know this one thing. But if I know this one thing, then I know when it's something else. So now, with one foot on the ground, you see, I'm going to do a little dance for the microphone. I've got one foot on the ground, and I'm in a dark room. But I have one foot planted. Means I can go like this. I could feel around me, and see and extend my understanding.
Doing a little dance with the tippy toe with the right foot and left foot is solidly placed. Okay? Do you understand my point? So I go to Weston, and I look and I go, "No. That's not a rock pile with a hollow and a tail. That's something different. Let me see if I, if there's anything else like that around. And—." Where was I yesterday? Or the day before yesterday? Or, okay, yesterday, okay we were in Boxboro, Patch Hill conservation land. You take the lower trail in, and you come to a place where there's this very, very massive stone wall, next to the trail, you go look on the other side of that massive stone wall, and you'll find a beautiful, rectangular stone pile, low to the ground, with a huge chunk of quartz symmetrically placed along one of the sides. And it's not--. Then you look more carefully. There's no hollows. It's not rectangular. It's actually more like a pentagon, some sort of shape like that. And then this part is curved. This is sort of two thirds of a pentagon, and then a curved outline. And then behind it is another one, also not quite rectangular, also with one piece of quartz in it. No hollows. A different phenomenon.
I mean I'm not saying anything too profound, other than, you don't want to have everything all be the same subject, nor do you want to have 10,000 little subjects for a proper approach to approach to something. You want to kind of to group into reasonable subsets that you can focus on and get to know. So the rock piles with hollows, knowing about them helps me see that that's not the same thing as what I'm seeing in Boxboro. That's not the same thins as what I'm seeing in--. But on the other hand, if you go up, if you go out Route 2, just as you cross over the, pass Route 111, you go over the height of land in Harvard, if you happen to look to the south of the road you see a beautiful, huge twenty foot-long rock pile, twenty-five foot long rock pile, big'un. Rounded, oblong. You go, "Wow, that's magnificent. Anything else like that around?" I spent quite a long time exploring that part of the woods around Route 2. Never found a thing. And then I realized, "You know, there are some woods on the other side of Route 2." And I circled outward, and then finally I got to another one, about a quarter of a mile away. Same shape. But this one had been torn open and it had two hollows in it. So I go, "All right." That's part of the hollow world, but it's at the edge of it. It's just--. There's no tail, a little different, two hollows, placed slightly differently. So it's like that's still where my foot is planted on the ground, but it's a little bit at the edge of the standard design.
So now I can do stuff like this. I can say, "Well, in Hopkinton you have this, with the hollows, with these other piles strewn around. And then you got the same thing in Boylston, same kind of thing, looking out. Same kind of stuff strewn around. Then you got something slightly different when you get up into Harvard." And I don't know, it's a long way from having a complete picture, but with hundreds and hundreds of sites to explore now, I'm shifting my gears from discovering new sites to going back and trying to put sense into the things that I've seen. And with one central part that I do understand, in the sense of having named it and being able to recognize it and identify it, this, rock piles with hollows, this Wachusett tradition. With that understood, I'm starting to be able to expand and say what might be related to it, or what must be different from it. For example, I took my wife on a drive Saturday. And I thought, "Let's go out west. Let's go to the other side of Wachusett." So it's a bit of a drive from here. You know, forty-five minute drive, just to get out past Wachusett. Picked a road, driving along, and, "Oop. There's some rock piles." But they're sort of covered with trees and debris and all around a cellar hole. One of those things, I don't know what to do with that. And took some pictures. Keep driving. "Ooo. There's a big one." Get out. Now we're talking about big, mounded rock piles with no hollows and no tails. And they're round. They're not rectangular. And that was interesting. One of them. And then we drove a little further. Parked. Went in to the woods, and there was another one. Big, round. No hollows. And I'm going, "Okay. I don't know what this is. But I do know that it's not." It's not the rectangular with the hollow stuff that I'm seeing further east.
So I really hope over time to get better distribution maps, in the sense that the question was, who did what when, and where, and who else did it. Well who, is somebody--. I call them the inland empire. I think that they must've been the ancestors of the Nipmuc. Where? They did it mostly west of here. There's very few of these in this part of town. Okay? When? I think that this is middle Woodland. I need to digress for a second, but there was a mound builder culture in the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys, which was in what we call the Middle Ages. So, 800-1400 A.D., that sort of time frame. The Vikings were coming and going up in Greenland and Labrador. But things got cold for them. The water temperatures got colder. Their ability to farm in Greenland disappeared. They stopped coming. Right?
There were big battles between the Native Americans and the European-Americans in thirteen and 1400s. I know, this is fringe up the wazoo. But there were, I think, probably European-derived cultures in the Ohio Valley. That was different from the mound builder cultures. Whatever about--. Who knows about the European cultures. They've just begun to come aware of that. There are iron furnaces all through Ohio that are prehistoric. And yet Native Americans weren't supposed to have been smelting. So, you--. They can go figure that out on their own. But in any case, there were big, mound builder cultures in the Mississippi Valley. You've heard about the mound builders. Right? And you've heard about the Mayans. And they were big mound building cultures, and they were in Central America. And everywhere in between were mound building cultures. So the Caddo in Texas were building small mounds. The--. I can't remember what they're called. The Natchez further east, they were building small pyramids and having--.
Everywhere in America was a mound-building culture. And New England was--. What's the right word? Economically always one of the most rich resource, resource rich areas that exist in America. We've got it all. We've got reasonably good agriculture, not a very good, not such a long growing season, but long enough. We've got the ocean, we've got the rivers. We've got it all. This has always been the most popular part of America, and here I'm going to make something up, based on the weight of the obvious. During the mound builder culture in America, 800-1400, A.D., what's called the Woodland period, especially the Middle Woodland period, this was absolutely as much the center of the world as anywhere else. The question is, "Where are the mounds?" Right. And I'm telling you where the mounds were. They're here. They're built out of rock. And they're smaller. If you want to see an earthen mound, something actual pyramid, go down Route 2. And just before you hit 128 on the way into town, you'll start hitting the reservoir. And the first piece of water that you see on the right, little finger that stretches west a little bit, runs along Route 2 for a moment before you get to 128. If you look across that water, looking south from Route 2, just as you exit, you just crossed into Lexington a few feet ago, there you will see what looks like an earthen mound right next to the reservoir there. It's a shaped like this. It's a flat-topped thing. It's only about fifteen feet high. And maybe it's natural, but it looks artificial.
In any case, these stone mounds are not natural. Probably the big ones are probably for burials. And there's, there are thousands and thousands of these. And nobody's looking at them. And it's absolutely the cutting edge of archeology today. Massachusetts archeologists--. The guy who's currently editing the bulletin, is a rock pile knowledgeable and aware person. And he is opening up the pages of the official academic publications to this type of stuff. Hopefully, when the generation of know it alls dies off, the Stephen Williamses of Harvard, the Dina Dinkowsy of UMass, the people who think they know, who have--. What's the right word, to sit in court over, to adjudicate, to--?
PW: Preside. Those who have presided over the destruction of archeology in Massachusetts will slowly but eventually get out of the way. And some of the younger people will not have these same prejudices and will study the stuff with interest. As for development destroying rock piles, yea, you bet. What are you going to do? Curiously enough, a lot of times the rock piles that are there are on the shittiest piece of land around and it seems to manage to, often, seems sort of like the development just went right around it somehow. Don't know why the rock piles survive. Surely there are thousands killed every day. But they survive too. I don't know what to think. I mean, on Route 62, in Hudson, right near Route 495, they shaved off an entire hill and a half. And the half that got left is the place where the rock piles were. So. I don't know. Go figure.
Just mention some odds and ends. Nobscot Hill, the big hill in Sudbury, you want to know where the rock piles are? They're on the northwestern slope below the orchard. But they're all over that side of the hill. Callahan State Park, you could find some stuff down along the water. Mt. Pisgah, stuff in the valley between the two lobes of the hill, up, that runs north-south through the hill. Rocky Pond, Boylston's wonderful site on the right hand side there. I'm just telling you the bog places that I can think of. Codman Hill Road in Harvard, runs past a very tall hill that's owned by a family called Brown. At the very tippy top of the hill there's an incredible rock pile site. It was found by Bruce Macalear. Center of Boxboro, there's a hill. Belongs--. Private property. It's covered with rock piles, effigies and what have you.
Boxboro's full of rock piles, everywhere you look, different types. Sometimes bunches of little ones. Sometimes these grave-like things. Sometimes these mounds. I was very pleased. I cut into the wrong part of the swamp over in Boxboro, near the Holiday Inn. Instead of going into Wolf Swamp, which is where the conservation parking was, I went in the opposite side of the street. I said, "I think I'm going to keep going until there's, I hit houses." I hit rock piles first, and I found a low mound. I would've thought it was a mess, but then I said, "No, I think that's a hollow."
MK: This has been fabulous.
1:15:23—END OF RECORDING
PW: Okay? Okay?
MK: You just wanted to say?
PW: Are we all right?
PW: I just wanted to add that the arrowheads are mostly coming from a period several thousand years B.C., which is called the Middle Archaic. And so let's say 6,000 years ago. Whereas these stone mounds are, I think, coming from modern times and maybe 600 years ago. And so we're talking about an order of magnitude different depths of time. The arrowheads have nothing to do with the stone piles. Maybe I have a few things from the Middle Woodland, 600 years ago, in my arrowhead collection. And maybe that's what I would hope to find near a mound. But, for the most part it's a very different picture. And the reason I want to tell you both those stories is because it's all the stuff that you can--. See I made Concord my town. I made it my hobby. It is my hobby, to see what's here. And the ancient archeology, as in arrowheads, or the more recent archeology, as in stone mounds, rock piles, it's all part of what's there to be seen.
CK: Michael, you need to photograph Peter.