Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Site With Cairns

Somewhere in northern RI is this group of stone structures at the east face of a steep slope.   Some may have been built by Natives, and others by farmers. The first group, right off the trail, is what appears to be a niche with a pointer directly below.  The pointer points east, towards a swampy area. Pointers may indicate a large structure in the distance (2/22/12).  Unfortunately, any larger structures beyond the swamp have been lost to development.

The niche has smaller stones inside. It is easy to imagine this is some sort of shrine, especially since this figure-in-a-niche imagery is common in churches and on front lawns.  Perhaps the Natives who built it had a completely different interpretation.
     There are some cairns directly downhill from the pointer.

The largest has a dimple, which is uncommon in this area.
There are a couple of possibilities for this depression.  Someone long ago was looking for "treasure" in the cairn. Another possibility is that the dimple is built into a large cairn.  As the cairn gets larger and wider, it is easier to stack the larger stones up on the perimeter than to lift or toss them  to the center.  Note how neatly the stones are stacked to the left on the pile.  Maybe the final stage of this type of cairn construction involves tossing smaller stones into the center. This area is an old farm, and  it makes sense that the larger stones would be cleared away before the smaller ones.  Or maybe there was some ceremonial purpose related to the niche and pointer. There is no way to be sure.
     About 250 feet north of the cairns is a strange little structure, a short wall  with some sort of niche built into the slope. The wall is about 7 feet long and 3 feet tall.

 Here's the niche
 Here's a view from the inside.  There is nothing interesting on the ground.
Perhaps poles were anchored in the niche and rested on the wall, creating a temporary shelter.  Since it is against the slope, it would have been wet in the rain. Maybe supplies were stored off the ground inside it, or it was a small  pen for animals.

1 comment:

  1. The extra structure around the "dimple" seems incompatible with your explanation.