Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Large Cairn Field

Somewhere in northern Rhode Island, on a gentle south slope, is this large cairn field enclosed by low stone rows (blue lines).  The area inside the walls is about 835 feet long.
Inside are many low cairns.
 Rocks are also piled up around a large boulder.
The ground between the cairns is level and free of rocks.   As I suggested in the last post,  cairns may have been constructed during field clearing, since it would be far less work to move rocks into small piles than to carry them out of the field.  None of the cairns in this field have quartz, and there aren't any manitous or propped boulders nearby.  Perhaps this was a native farm field.  Much of the landscape of southern New England may have been farm fields with cairns, which were then cleared and plowed by settlers.
     About 500 feet north of this field is a small hill with a commanding view of the area. At the west face is an outcrop surmounted by two rocks and a bent tree. The two rocks look neatly placed on the hill, like two seats.
This level  hill would have been a good camping site. There is a small pond at the downhill  end of the field, and a lake beyond it. Here is the top of the hill, facing east.
Here is how the site may have looked in the spring, with corn planted in small hills among the cairns. The view is uphill, through the growing corn, to the camp on the small hill. Of course, this is all from my imagination.
I liked this site so much,  I did the view downhill from the camp site. It is late afternoon in summer and a rain storm has just passed.


  1. Very nice! I was thinking about Indian Gardens just this morning and ended up with this:

  2. When Europeans clear a field they produce multiple piles of different sized rocks, often dumped on top of each other: smaller-rock piles on top of larger-rock piles. I don't see that here.

    At the same time, I want to question whether Indians would garden on rocky soil when there were many richer deeper soils available in many places. Near where I live in Concord and in Littleton they have identified Indian corn fields that consist of small, evenely spaced mounds of soil.