Saturday, July 5, 2008

Extensive ridgetop site on the Wissahickon.

Traveling down Wise's Mill road, I've often felt drawn to the bluffs on either side of the chasm occupied by the old milling road. I've explored the crest of the hill on the right hand side already, and found some truly wonderful lithics there, but yesterday and today I had an urge to explorethe left hand side. From the road, it's possible to make out boulder fields dotting the steep ascent (above). So, finding the least dangerous path up the valley wall, I picked my way between the boulders, some of which were amazing. Consider this boulder (which I'm calling Open Mouth Rock). It was spectacular, a surface projection of the spine rock running under the crestof the hill.

Making the crest of the hill, I was not disappointed. The first thing I noticed was this wonderful, and very long, stone row...or really stone "platform". It appeared to extend the horizon of the hill outward over the valley, rather than to add elevation, although it could have been much higher long ago. It continued along the edge of the ridge. It must have been fairly old, because the wall would periodically be submerged under years of detritus, emerging at points along the ridge.

At one point, I noticed the following structure attached to the wall (after it emerged from the accumulated leaves and earth). It appeared to be some kind of enclosure or embrasure. If this was a natural, eroded feature, a result of a treefall exposing the buried wall or an intentional construction, I couldn't say. It is interesting to note that several people could sit within the enclosure and take in a commanding view of the valley below.

Above the enclosure, in a large, open area, overshadowed by well-grown conifers, there were several interesting rock piles. Three in particular were arranged in a straight line, starting with what looks like a toppled standing stone and ending with the final pile at the very top of the hill.

(toppled standing stone? Note white quartz in middle pile near the center back of the photo. )

(middle of line, featuring quartz
shown in preceding picture)

(Apex-of-hill pile)

Now, for my thoughts: the most interesting aspect of this site is the linear set of piles/standing stone(s) near the hill's apex. The large platform/stone row skirting the hill's edge is also interesting in that it snakes its' way down the steepest portion of the hill (one reason why I doubt that it's a field clearing pile). The pile begins to break apart and spread out a bit but its remains clearly directed toward and connected to the Open Mouth rock identified above. Is this an example of the walls-connecting boulder motif?

In any event, finding a site this extensive was a surprise. Sometimes it pays to follow a hunch.

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