Monday, July 14, 2008

Return to the "Cairn"

(note: some of the following images aren't as well resolved as I'd like. Blame it on the rain and my cameras attempts to autofocus).

In comments on this post, pwax raises the possibility that the "cairn" I found Saturday represented a recent reconstruction of a (possibly) older pile. The condition of the pile (at least as seen from the angle at which I photographed) may be too good to be true. So I returned to the site, in the hopes of shedding some light on this question.

The first thing I did was to confirm that portions of the pile were below the modern ground level, an observation I made in a cursory fashion Saturday. Checking at 4 locations around the pile, this appeared to be the case. Secondly, I wanted to examine the other faces of the pile in detail to see if they showed more wear than the front of the pile (as I had photographed it).

Here is a shot from the rear of the pile.

The left hand portion of the pile shows considerable breakdown and there is a lot of detritus and earth as fill. Examining the right rear of the pile we have
again, more breakdown and detritus here. The leaf fill is pretty deep, and proceeds, with increasing depth, into a rich, loamy soil fill.

At the top center of the pile, was a thin capstone, partially occluding a small niche. Peering into the niche, I found the following beautiful piece of quartz.
(this stick is the one I mentioned in the preceding post. It actually wasn't very long and may well have just fallen into the niche at the top of the pile)

If a recent construction, then word about quartz nuggets in niches has gotten out there. Again, there is considerable detritus in the center of the pile, as seen in this picture.

Now these results are leading, but of course not conclusive. I feel I can be pretty confident, then, in a few statements about the "cairn".

1) The bulk of the pile is not recent construction.
2) At least one or two layers of the pile are below the current ground level.
3) Aspects of the pile construction are consistent with other piles we believe to be ceremonial in nature and Native American in origin.
4) Some portion of the pile may have modified in recent times.

Now, on to some other features of the site. I wanted to include a picture of the paving/wall remnant I found, because it really is quite remarkable.

(in the above pic you can just make out the paving as it makes its way up the hillside)

I followed this pavement from the base of the hill to its crest. About halfway up the hill I saw these quartz twins (each about the size of a basketball), or perhaps a single large piece of quartz split. They are resting on a flat slab of Wissahickon Schist, partly buried.

Scattered along the wall were multiple shattered piles

This one sporting a nice piece of quartz.

Finally, past the "cairn", the wall appeared to terminate here (At least I could find no evidence of it past this point), where I found the following tilted standing stone. It is nearly knee high and does not appear to represent an extrustion of the underlying bedrock.

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