Sometimes you just have to toss out some old ideas - I mean "theories" - that you once had in your mind and had even put out there on your blog, as illustrated by the image below from one of the many sketch books I've scribbled and scratched in over the years.
I may have acquired Kathleen Bragdon's book in 1996 when it was first published and made that pencil sketch shortly after - you see, I actually do the required reading about this Cultural Landscape business and the Indigenous People who were responsible for its creation and maintenance - but really I don't remember if I made the drawing of my own personal observation before I ever snatched that quote out of her fine book. I do see that by 1997 that the "Effigy as a Diagnostic Characteristic of Indigenous Stonework Idea" - I mean "Theory" - had occurred to me since I scribbled down in ink that little note to myself to go back and look again to determine if these "Point Stone Boulders" were in fact Testudinate in nature. I had a grand list of three possible animals I'd observed represented in stone at the time, bears, deer and turtles (all supplied by ethnography) at that time - and I suppose if I had had the words in my vocabulary back then so I could have had jotted down "Zoomorphic" or "Reptilian" then I'd have appeared to be a bit more of a smarty pants, but no I won't lie to you: the whole Great Serpent connection to the stone walls took many years of "homework" and many observations to arrive at what I know think is really obvious - and what I hope to embarrass the people who are supposed to be protecting these Snake Petroforms all around New England into recognizing them, investigating them in a scientific manner and actually start protecting them, rather than repeating a romantic myth about the agrarian practices of the last few hundred years, ethnically "erasing" Indigenous People from the Cultural Landscape of New England. I mean, come on now: this science stuff is supposed to reveal truths and contribute to a better understanding of the world around us. Read some Great Serpent Legends and some of the great work of the last 25 or 30 years that people around the world have been doing about Indigenous Cultural Landscapes!
Anyway, I updated my old drawing this morning:
That's all I have to say about it (for now)...Links to more Chestnut Rails: Chestnut Rails