Stone Walls Keep Their Stories Secret

Glance into any New England woods and you will see networks of old stone walls trailing through the woods. Who built them and when? Many of us assume our colonial ancestors did the grunt work to pen in their animals, create root cellars, and mark property lines. A few others among us argue that the walls, ceremonial meeting places, and burial chambers are more than 4000 years old.

Those few others will point out by way of example that up and down Putnam Valley in New York State are chambers, cairns, walls, and dolmens similar to those found in Ireland that were created 4000 years ago. This causes some people to argue that the Celts and the Vikings called North America their home away from home long before Columbus got off his barge in the New World.
Maybe. Maybe not. Whatever. The walls are old. They are part of the landscape. Their placement and their integrity--they survive the winters better than the rest of us--deserve our respect.

Our walls are an enigma and the subject of controversy and as such they therefore deserve to be left intact.
They might, after all, be important. Consider, for example, America's Stonehenge. Like Stonehenge in England, America's Stonehenge was built by ancient people well versed in astronomy and stone construction. It has been determined that the site is an accurate astronomical calendar. It was, and still can be, used to determine specific solar and lunar events of the year. Various inscriptions have been found throughout the site including Ogham, Phoenician, and Iberian Punic Script.

Dr. Barry Fell of Harvard University did extensive work on the inscriptions found at the site. They are detailed in his book America B.C.
Fell speculated that Irish monks reached North America centuries before Columbus. This is based on Fell's interpretation, published in 1983, of rock-cut inscriptions located at archaeological sites in West Virginia. According to Fell, these inscriptions narrated the story of Christ's nativity and were written in an old Irish script called Celtic Ogham dating back to the 6th or 8th century A.D.

As a New Englander who walks the woods with reverence, I have to say Fell's ideas pique my interest. It's possible. Possible or impossible, probable or improbable, the bottom line is that the ancient stone walls of New England are artifacts. The speculation and poetry they invite and their reminder to us of the things of this word that we cannot know make them worth preserving.

A few other places to read about our rocks:
Native Stones and Mysterious Megaliths of New England


  1. Anonymous6:52 PM

    Oh the stories those rocks could tell. If ever I had a series of wishes to be granted, for one I'd wish that the oldest trees and rock walls could speak. what a history lesson that would be.


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