Archive for the ‘New England stone chambers’ Tag

The Putney Mountain Stone Chambers   2 comments

A precipitous drop in temperatures from the 90s (34C) to the 40s (6C) last night, warming to the low 60s (17C) this afternoon, made for ideal conditions to visit the stone chambers around Putney, Vermont.

My Druid friend B. was my guide. The roads around Putney Mountain are not always well-labelled, many run through private lands, and some of the many dirt roads devolve to Class 4 — not regularly maintained, generally not passable without all-wheel drive vehicles, and not plowed in winter. We drove where we could, then set out on foot.

Here B. stands next to the entrance of the first chamber, giving an approximate sense of the height of the mouth.

Putneych1

A side view of the same chamber. Note the stone wall climbing the hillside in the background.

Putch1side

What we called the terraced or “pyramid” structure around chamber 1:

Putch1terracing

The chamber features a drainage (?) channel cut into the rock. All of the chambers face roughly east, and this particular channel runs due east, judging by readings from B’s smart-phone compass app.

Putch1drain

V-shaped entrance to chamber 2 — note what appears to be a stone “lintel” in the foreground.

Putch2-lintel

B crouched within chamber 2 — larger than chamber 1, and quite dry inside. The massive roof plates of stone easily weigh several tons each.

Putch2-interior

Looking out from within chamber 2. Unlike the first chamber, this one was dry enough to sit on the earth floor.

Putch2-from-int

Chamber 3 differs in the location of the entrance. Here is what looked and felt to both of us like a “processional walk” to the chamber. Merely a path left from frequent hikers exploring the area? Or something else? How to tell?

Putch3-approach

Continuing the approach to chamber 3.

Putch3-app2

B standing at the roof entrance to chamber 3 for a sense of scale. The beech (?) to the left appeared at least two hundred years old.

Putch3--near

Close-up of the kiva-like entrance to chamber 3.  The interior is deep enough for a person to stand upright in the oval space, about 8 feet (2.4 m) across.

Putch3-close

Chamber 4 — the roof has fallen in on the far side. Stone taken for building elsewhere? Similar design to the others — but perhaps run-off from hillside weakened the roof.

Putch4

Despite both learned and amateur speculation, no convincing conclusions about the purpose of these chambers exists. Colonial smokehouses? Storage sheds? Native ritual or burial chambers? Nothing quite seems to explain the massive construction, cramped and damp spaces, the exceptions of the details of chambers 2 and 3, etc. Similar stoneworks around New England raise similar questions. While dating suggests pre-European construction in some locations, other sites present what appears to be intermingled periods of building/repair.

/|\ /|\ /|\

%d bloggers like this: