Everyone knows that stone walls cover the New England landscape like honeycombs. But far fewer people know about the region’s hundreds of mysterious stone structures. In the 1930s, someone estimated that New England had 250,000 miles of stone walls. In the following decades came inventories of the region’s stone structures, which some believed to be ancient. Some of those ancient stone structures are oriented to the stars and planets. They also stand near megaliths, cairns or dolmens. A few have what are probably stone beds or sacrificial altars.

Ancient stone structure in Leverett, Massachusetts

Speculation now runs rampant about the origins of the mysterious stone structures. Did medieval Irish monks, American Indians or Vikings build them? Or did the English colonists just built them as root cellars? Most noteworthy, just three Northeast counties account for the majority of stone structures in North America: Putnam County, N.Y.; New London County, Conn.; and Windsor County, Vt. Massachusetts has the densest concentration of beehive-shaped stone chambers like those built by Culdee monks in Ireland. The state has 105 sites containing stone structures.

Connecticut also has quite a few at 62, New Hampshire has 51 and Vermont  has 41. Tiny Rhode Island has only 12 stone structures, but still more than Maine, which has only four. Some speculate that perhaps ancient voyagers frequently traveled the Merrimack, the Thames, and the Connecticut rivers.  They then built their stone structures along those routes.

Ancient stone structures — Gungywamp

Here, then, we bring you ancient stone structures (or maybe colonial root cellars), with at least one in each New England state. New England colonists found many stone buildings, when they arrived. Typically they were one story high, circular or rectangular and as long as 30 feet. Many had roof openings that allowed a little light to illuminate the interiors. As a result, early mercenaries to the Northeast wrote about ‘Indian stone castles.’ Furthermore, John Winthrop the Younger in 1654 received a letter from John Pynchon of Springfield, Massachusetts. Pynchon heard “a report of a stone wall and strong chamber in it, made all of stone, which is newly discovered at or near Pequot.” The 100-acre Gungywamp archaeological site in Groton, Conn.,  contains such stone structures as beehive chambers, petroglyphs, a double circle of stones, cellars and walls. All date back hundreds of years. Some of the structures are thought to be Native American and perhaps had ceremonial functions. Colonial settlers built others with purposes such as root cellars and birthing chambers. Some features of the site suggest they were originally built as fortifications.

There is plenty of speculation about the purpose of the Gungywamp stone structures. Some theorize that 8th-century Irish monks built certain structures. They argue ‘Gungywamp’ means ‘church of the people’ in Gaelic.  Others say it is an Indian word. Gungywamp’s most famous chamber is the so-called ‘calendar chamber.’ Archaeologists suspect the colonists originally used it for storage for a nearby tan bark mill. A vent at one end of the chamber aligns with the spring and fall equinoxes. It thus allows a shaft of sunlight to fall directly on a smaller chamber within the larger structure. Gungywamp is preserved, but many of the structures stand on private land. It can be toured virtually here. Visitors can tour the Gungywamp through the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. More information is available here.

The Red Paint people of Maine once settled in the Hirundo Wildlife Refuge, a wetland preserve. Archaeologists discovered artifacts from the 7,000-year-old village along the Wabanaki Trail. Among the bogs and ancient burial grounds are at least 18 curious stone piles, clearly made by humans. But by whom and for what? And when? No one know. Most are 6-1/2 feet in diameter and a foot and a half high. The University of Maine owns the Hirundo Wildlife Refuge, which is open dawn to dusk all week long.

The largest and probably best known stone chamber in Massachusetts is the Upton Stone Chamber near Worcester in Upton. It includes a tunnel that connects to a roundish beehive room. A stone slab sits on top.  In 1989, two archao-astronomists concluded that people used the chamber between 700-750 A.D. to study the Pleiades. Around 670 A.D., they used it to view the summer solstice. To see photographs from 1944 of the Upton Stone Chamber, click here. The Upton Heritage Park is at 18 Elm Street.

Upton Stone Chamber — Upton, Massachusetts

Thirty miles away in Acton, an underground stone chamber in the Nashoba Brook Conservation Area is known as the ‘potato cave.’ Residents had long assumed the structure was a root cellar. A 2006 excavation found evidence people stored food in it in the 18th or 19th century. Some argue Indians built it before the colonists arrived. Still others say railroad workers lived in it during the 19th century. You can visit the restored chamber at the Nashoba Brook Conservation Area in North Acton on the easterly side of Main Street (Route 27), toward Westford and Carlisle.

During the summer solstice, a procession of people banging drums softly come to America’s Stonehenge. They aim to honor Mother Earth. America’s Stonehenge is a 30-acre complex of standing stones, underground chambers and stone walls in North Salem, N.H. As the largest collection of stone structures in North America, it includes dolmens, or horizontal stone slabs on vertical stone uprights. It also has cromlechs, or circles of standing stones and barrows, or tombs. There’s a secret bed, an echoing oracle chamber, a sacrificial altar stone and a stone-lined speaking tube that gives the impression the altar is talking when someone speaks into it. Radiocarbon dating confirms that pagans built the structures as many as 4,000 years ago.

America’s Stonehenge – North Salem, New Hampshire

The written record doesn’t mention the ancient stone structures until 1907, in History of Salem, New Hampshire by Edward Gilbert. He wrote that a family named Pattee owned the land, called Mystery Hill, and had many of the stones carted away for construction in Lawrence, Mass. A retired insurance executive named William Goodwin bought the site in 1937. He had it excavated and became convinced Irish Culdee monks built the site about 1000 A.D. The monoliths are astronomically aligned, leading to the conclusion the stones were used as a prehistoric calendar. Mystery Hill was renamed America’s Stonehenge and as a result gets 15,000 visitors a year. The site can still be used as an accurate yearly calendar.

There is much more to read. I subscribed to this site a while ago and it is fascinating, especially since many of these structures are much older than European occupation of North American. One of them, the Upton Stone Chamber, is literally about 10 miles up the road in the middle of Upton — right here in the Blackstone Valley.

Please do check out the original site. If you think North America lacks its own ancient history, this will be an eye-opener.

Source: Six Mysterious Stone Structures of New England – New England Historical Society


Harry had it right.

The English Professor at Large

At this time I am reminded of a story about Harry Truman. He said that when he was making a decision about his life he couldn’t make up his mind between playing piano in a whorehouse or becoming a politician until he realized there was no difference.

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Following are comments to the Fox News coverage of the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wis., and the aftermath of that shooting where 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, a former member of a youth police cadet program with an affinity for guns, shot and killed two protesters and seriously wounded a third. The comments were taken from the Fox News affiliate for Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson in South Carolina and Asheville, N.C.

One school of thought in journalism circles is that quotes from readers and interviewees should be edited for grammar and punctuation so as not to make people appear needlessly ignorant. We’re not doing that here because, with possibly the most important presidential election coming in the near future, the shattering ignorance on display here is kinda the point.

Source: Unfiltered: The cult of Fox’s view as Nov. 3 draws nearer – THE SHINBONE STAR


By Denise Shabazz

Dear Black People,

A year ago, I was compelled to write to white women who voted for Donald Trump even though their interests were not clearly aligned with the Grab-Them-by-the-Pussy-in-Chief. I was angry at them then, and now I’m angry at you for the same reason.

I’ve noticed that many of you are concerned about California Sen. Kamala Harris, Democratic presumptive presidential candidate Joe Biden’s pick for his vice president. Most of your concerns stem from her record when she served as a district attorney for San Francisco. Others complained that Harris just isn’t black enough, noting her marriage to white Jewish entertainment lawyer Douglas Emhoff, as well as her biracial South Asian heritage. Other critics say she just isn’t progressive enough.

To all you naysayers: Now. Is. Not. The. Time.

I’m going to remind you of what a racist clown we have in the Oval Office.

REMEMBER? Neo-Nazi racists carrying Tiki torches in Charlottesville, Va., some of Donald Trump’s “very good people.”

Let’s start with what happened in Charlottesville, Va. on Aug. 12, 2017. It was called the Unite the Right Rally, a protest organized by white supremacist groups.

Neo-Nazis and white supremacists — dressed in khakis and carrying Tiki torches — protested the removal of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s statute. According to the New York Times, the group was chanting: “You will not replace us” and “Jew will not replace us.”

An anti-racist group — including Black Lives Matters marchers — clashed with the racists and several were hurt. One of the counter protesters, Heather Heyer,  was killed when James Alex Fields slammed his car into the crowd.

But the most jarring thing about the whole tragedy was Trump’s response to the carnage:

“You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

Now. Is. Not. The. Time.

REMEMBER? Donald Trump actually campaigned on a racist message. It wasn’t false advertising.

May I remind you, too, of the time when Racist Donny announced his presidency on June 15, 2015 from Trump Tower. He proclaimed on that day:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Black people, if you aren’t troubled by those comments, I question your consciousness. Trump’s campaign launch was an indication for racist rhetoric to come. And sure enough, our Clown President didn’t disappoint. Most recently, he blew the racist dog whistles when he tweeted earlier in August that suburban housewives would vote for him because:

“They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood.”

Now. Is. Not. The. Time.

I could go on and on about the Clown President’s race-baiting, but it would require me writing a book.

I will say that I did research Sen. Harris’ record as a prosecutor, and it is interesting that both Fox News and the New York Times have differing views, which to me demonstrates that her record is complex and not so cut-and-dried like many of you want to believe.

Times profile on Aug. 9 notes that “Critics saw her taking baby steps when bold reform was needed — a microcosm of a career in which she developed a reputation for taking cautious, incremental action on criminal justice and, more often than not, yielding to the status quo.”

However, a Fox News article from Aug. 13 notes that Harris is not a “progressive prosecutor” and has a lenient record on crime, refusing to seek the death penalty for many criminal defendants, including for the killer of police Officer Isaac Espinoza.

So, Black people, I give you Exhibit A: Donald Trump, a liar, a racist and a corrupt, soulless man who most recently has gone to war against the United States Postal Service, appointing a key supporter to defund the institution in order to slow the mail — specifically mail-in-ballots — ahead of the election. He gives not one damn about veterans and the elderly who depend on prescriptions that come through the mail. After all, it’s always about him. He has also demanded that schools reopen to in-person learning without a national strategy or funding to provide COVID-19 testing or for supporting educators.

On the other hand, I present Exhibit B: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, candidates who are now offering a responsible strategy for containing the COVID-19 virus, calling for a national mask-wearing mandate in light of the pandemic, as well as providing emergency aid for the unemployed.

I could care less who Kamala Harris shares her bed with or whether she’s “Black enough.” The fact that she went to my alma mater, Howard University, an historically Black university, shares my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha is all I need.

Again, Black people, Now. Is. Not. The Time

See original source: Dear Black People – THE SHINBONE STAR


NEWS FLASH! Trump enabler Steve Bannon indicted!

by Glenn Redus

We interrupt this program to bring you the important news that Trump whisperer Steven K. Bannon has been arrested and charged with two counts of fraud for his role in collecting more than $25 million from deluded MAGATs who thought they were helping to “Build a Wall” between the United States and Mexico.

Steve Bannon — Remember him?

Bannon, sort of a Joseph Goebbels character (though considerably heavier and uglier) in the Republican-Nazi Party, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of money laundering. At least $1 million of the money collected from racist Trumpers was diverted to Bannon’s personal use, the charges claimed.

Stay tuned to The Shinbone Star for more news and possibly more indictments as efforts continue to “drain the swamp.”

We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

View original post on NEWS FLASH! Trump enabler Steve Bannon indicted! – THE SHINBONE STAR


Last week I realised that it was exactly a year ago that I completed my Welsh Castle Quest, and I’ve been looking back through that epic journey and all the adventure and discovery it entailed. After the Quest, we stayed on in Wales for a week’s break and, inevitably in this ‘land of castles’, we found a few more. But those we visited during our wind-down week were no great English fortresses born of Edward I’s Welsh Wars, but more modest castles built by the earlier, native princes of Wales. One in particular jumped out from my trawl through the photos for several reasons: it’s in a spectacular setting, it had a walk-on part in the Welsh Wars and it was built by one of greatest Welsh rulers of the middle ages.

This was the first day of our post-Quest holiday, and we’d actually set out to explore the magnificent mountains. But as we drove through Snowdonia on the A470, I caught sight of a handsome tower in such a commanding position I just had to investigate. Pulling into a car park, we realised that we’d stumbled across Dolwyddelan, one of the most impressive Welsh castles built by the native princes. The castle sits proudly in its rock-cut ditch atop a high ridge, and access to it entails a climb up the hill on foot, so realising that we’d already spent two weeks on a castle quest I gallantly offered to forego a visit and press on into the mountains. Luckily though, everyone felt this intriguing edifice was too good an opportunity to miss, so we set off.

For the rest of the story see The Little Welsh Castle of a Great Welsh Prince by Alli Templeton


Today (August 9) is a historical anniversary that, while I’m sure won’t go un-noticed, may well go unappreciated. Forty-six years ago today, on August 9, 1974, Richard M. Nixon resigned as President of the United States, the only president (thus far) to do so. Gerald Ford took over as the nation’s 37th President that afternoon. This was a pivotal event in U.S. political and social history. Nothing was ever quite the same, but perhaps for reasons that are under-appreciated or outright misunderstood.

Nixon, of course, resigned because of the Watergate scandal. In 1972, as he was running for re-election, a group of political spies paid by the White House broke into some Democratic Party offices to snoop around, and they got caught. This wasn’t really what got Nixon into trouble. What happened was, three days later, he told an aide, Bob Haldeman, to call the FBI and tell them to stop investigating the case. With those words, Nixon committed a crime–obstruction of justice–and the crime was caught on tape. In 1973 it was revealed Nixon recorded many of his conversations in the White House. He fought a year-long battle to keep the tapes, and especially this one, from coming out, but the Supreme Court ruled he had to turn them over. His political support drained away. To forestall impeachment and conviction, you might say Nixon “ragequit.”

I think the emotion he was feeling was more sorrow and shame than rage. Look at this, the full recording of his farewell speech to the White House staff. It’s 21 minutes long, but I’ve cued it up to 19:06 so you can hear his interesting advice to those who want to continue in government.

“Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty, always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”

The rest of the story: “Those who hate you don’t win”: thoughts on Nixon’s resignation.

Blood in the water? Are the sharks coming for Donald J. Trump? – THE SHINBONE STAR

Last Wednesday was the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the U.S.S Indianapolis, a U.S. Navy heavy cruiser sunk by a Japanese submarine on July 30, 1945 after delivering the first U.S. atomic bomb to an isolated Pacific island air base. It is a grim story, a primer for abject failure.

Among the engaging legends told by superstitious sailors of the time is one claiming the good ship “Indy” was gobsmacked by Poseidon himself for delivering the “Little Boy” atomic bomb to the glamor boys of the Army Air Force, so they alone could claim facilitating the end World War II. What else could explain why the Indianapolis’ shipwrecked crew suffered so horribly for four days before anyone noticed the ship was missing?

The Navy says 1,151 sailors manned the ship, but only 316 survived the sinking. The captain endured, only to be disgraced by court-martial before committing suicide. About 150 crewmen were eaten by sharks. Included in their history is a footnote explaining that the horrific incident included the greatest massacre of humans by sharks in recorded history. By any measure, the tragedy perfectly illustrates the meaning of total failure.

Donald Trump, however, has surpassed even that level of failure. Almost daily he provides another illustration of his stunning ineptitude. His latest stunt, suggesting the November presidential election should be set aside until the atmosphere is more conducive to voting, has a sinister tone. Is it real or is it Memorex?

Source: Blood in the water? Are the sharks coming for Donald J. Trump? – THE SHINBONE STAR


What is happening in Portland and American cities where Black Lives Matter continues to oppose the violence and lawlessness of those sworn to protect and serve. A search through previous Views from the Edge posts led back to August 22, 2014.

Today’s NYT sounds an alarm with a picture from the June 6, 2020 cover of Der Spiegel (6.6.20) depicting Donald Trump with a match. What German readers see feels chillingly familiar. They still smell the smoke from 1933.

Source: Homeland Militarization can’t be our future | Views from the Edge


A man who speaks the truth discussing the man who wouldn’t know the truth if it sat on him.


Views from the Edge

Independence Day at Mount Rushmore

The Fourth of July feels a bit different this year. When the sculptors chiseled the 60-foot faces of Presidents George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), they could not have imagined a pyrotechnic desecration of national monument, although they knew their defacing of the granite desecrated the land once enjoyed by America’s vanquished First People. They could not imagine that in 2020 the four celebrated presidents’ statues would be toppled on public squares for having owned other human beings while their successor ignores a pandemic to shine the light on himself.

“Too much faith in ‘just one man'”

Weeks ago I learned that FoxNews host Tucker Carlson had asked my question. I have to check it out. Finding a YouTube of that particular Tucker Carlson Tonight episode, I can’t believe my ears or eyes.

“Many of our leaders believe…

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The Triumphant Return of Bald Eagles | Your Great Outdoors

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) recently confirmed that there are now more than 70 active Bald Eagle nests in the Bay State, including the first nesting effort on Cape Cod since 1905.

This nest, located in a white pine tree, was discovered many months ago by a homeowner’s association and reported to MassWildlife. Subsequently, Josh Maloney, a burgeoning nature enthusiast and volunteer at Mass Audubon’s Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary discovered what appeared to be a chick in this nest in late May.

Josh carefully mapped the location of the nest, documented the chick with photographs, and reported the sighting to MassWildlife state ornithologist Andrew Vitz. Within days, Mass Wildlife ascended the tree and banded the eaglet in order to gather valuable life history information throughout its life and contribute to eagle research across the country. We are hopeful this chick will fledge in the coming weeks, and that this breeding pair will return to this nest annually for many years to come.

Bringing Eagles Back to Massachusetts

Source: The Triumphant Return of Bald Eagles | Your Great Outdoors

The Monuments Men (and women): Let’s get it right this time. –

Let’s not just tear down racist Confederate monuments. Let’s put up something better in their place.

Source: The Monuments Men (and women): Let’s get it right this time. –

The Monuments Men (and women):
Let’s get it right this time.

Monuments matter. They just do.

Right now, in this moment of extraordinary reflection on systemic racism in our society arising from the quite justifiable outrage over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many other African-Americans by racist police, it may seem like a lot of frothing and fuming over lumps of bronze and marble that have been standing in parks and in front of courthouses for more than a century is a waste of time and resources. It may seem especially reckless to be having this national conversation while the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed 110,000 Americans and counting, still rages. But it’s not. This needs to happen. It’s a reckoning with our past and part of a reassessment of our history. As a historian, and as a white man who has benefited greatly from the systemic racism that’s embedded in so many institutions in our society, let me make this clear: the Confederate and racist monuments all need to go. Every single one of them. But we also need to do more than that.

More than a few parks and courthouse squares in the U.S. have seen a curious nightly ritual. Men and women, some wearing masks, come in the middle of the night with cranes and jackhammers, and the next morning another bronze Lee, Forrest or Beauregard is carted away to a storehouse. Historian Al Mackey of the Student of the American Civil War blog has been documenting many of the removals, here. But when the pandemic is over (if it ever is) and the clouds of tear gas from the protests clear, we’ll be left with a lot of empty pedestals whose very emptiness will remind us of the battles we fought over them and the pain they’ve caused. So, tearing down racist monuments isn’t enough. We need to put up something else in their places that cements in our minds a new version of history, supplanting the false and disingenuous pseudohistory of white supremacism that the erection of Confederate monuments, most of them in the early 20th century, was deliberately designed to build.

The header image of this article is a large statute of Union Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman in Washington, D.C. The picture above is a Google Maps street view of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, and the statue of the man on horseback in front of it is John Brown Gordon, a Confederate general and likely head of the KKK in Georgia after the war (though he never admitted it). The statute of Gordon, erected in 1907 specifically as a response to a race riot, obviously needs to be torn down and melted into ingots. But that will leave that ugly pedestal standing there. What do we replace it with? How about William Tecumseh Sherman?

Sherman, who burned Atlanta and carved a path of destruction through the state in 1864, would be a perfect choice to honor in front of the Georgia State Capitol. It would represent a wholesale turn against the slave-owning past of Georgia and a powerful rejection of the toxic “Lost Cause” pseudo-historical myth that tries to pretend that the Civil War was about anything other than slavery. In fact, I think a statue of a gilded General Sherman on a horse, similar to the one in New York City’s Sherman Plaza, would look so good in front of the Georgia State Capitol that I’ve taken the liberty of photoshopping an image to show you how nice it would look.

Created with Glimpse


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