Thursday, December 8, 2011


A few years ago, I was wandering through Snake Den looking for art subjects.   I started noticing that large boulders and outcrops with striking shapes often were surrounded by piles or rows of stones.   An online search of "stone structures" led me to Larry Harrop's blog, and to the realization that the mysterious structures had some aesthetic or spiritual significance to the Native Americans who built them.
     Here is an example.  A few weeks ago, I noticed this large outcrop, which  looks like granite boulders joined eons ago by the lava which flowed between them.  The lava cooled into layers, which resemble flowing drapery.
Investigation of this site revealed a loose stone row running  about 140 feet from the top of the outcrop to a large boulder at the edge of the hill. There is a standing stone in the middle of the stone row.

The end of the stone row, at a large boulder.
The photograph of the outcrop, with heavy shadows, was disappointing.  Perhaps the significance of this site is how the lava vein seems to rise from the earth and permeate the boulders. Here is my interpretation, in oil with lots of palette knife work. I used a little artistic license and added red and gold to the lava flow.
 I have always noted that trails go past prominent stone structures and stone rows.  These might have been waypoints or boundaries along a native trail system. They may have had spiritual significance, and been the equivalent of roadside shrines. Looking at the layout of stone structures and stone rows in an area, one can imagine a network of trails, but development and disruption make it impossible to be certain.
     Here are a couple of landmarks from an old native trail, now Route 44 through Rhode Island.  The first is a large boulder on bedrock in Smithfield.  The second is a pedestal boulder on a small hill on private property next to 44 in Harmony.  Our roads are built on a secret landscape.


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