Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Older Photos, Newer Musings...

   These photos aren't from a little walk I took this past Sunday morning, but from an older photo album dated July 28, 2011, taken during a different walk in the same National Wildlife Refuge in Westbrook CT. This past Sunday I didn't venture much past the "lacey" stone walls that border the Refuge along the Old Clinton Road but as I looked at the older photos to see if I had captured some images of the same details, I was surprised to see what I had missed back in 2011 - sort of. I found that something about the way that certain stones were stacked caught my eye back then, enough for me to photograph the detail, but what I was missing was the idea of multiple images in these suspected Indigenous made rows of stones. In other words, I was looking for (stone) turtles and (stone) bears without realizing that the larger construction was sometimes quite clearly a (stone) snake or a whole bunch of (stone) snakes. It has slowly dawned upon me that sometimes a diagnostic element of a Native American "stone wall" is something I have chosen to name "Serpent Stacking." The photo above isn't the accidental and haphazard stacking of a "single stone wall" that resulted from field clearing or an effort to establish a property line, but an artistic creation that probably had multiple uses as well as multiple images of Native American Iconography, infused with the spiritual power of those images of turtles, bears and especially snakes - and especially those snakes who were also known as Great Serpents, controlling water and weather and all the rest associated with those Great Serpents that go by many names throughout the hemisphere.
      That wall shown above isn't even close to three feet high as it appears today and I do admit I don't know how far it extends below the surface of the soil. What I do know is that a legal fence of early times in this section of CT had to be about four and a half feet high and in the later 1630's was probably an easily constructed wooden cross and rail fence:
Above: Eric Sloane drawing from Our Vanishing Landscape.
Below: hastily and sloppily executed overlay of imagined cross and rail fence.
    Sloane and almost every other stone wall researcher will tell you that this is the sequence of the evolution of stone walls in Ct and the rest of New England and leave it at that, claiming this as a remnant of the Euro-American Cultural Landscape of Post Contact times.
    I ask you to look at the overlays that follow, keeping in mind that Indigenous People had a much longer time period in which to build stone fuel breaks that controlled the fires they used to maintain the Indigenous Cultural Landscape...
"Serpent Stacking;" the courses of stones resemble petroform snakes, an easier feat when the rails are absent, possibly denoting a far older construction than is conjectured for the majority of Connecticut "stone walls." 

Large Rhomboidal Headstone:

Possibly a Horned Serpent:

I'll get to the newer photos from the roadside soon:

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