Unnamed Parcel, N. Stonington

Posted By on September 21, 2017

Unnamed Parcel, N. Stonington

5 miles; North Stonington, Griswold, and Preston, CT

Some Garden Club friends who are also members of Avalonia Land Conservancy invited me along to view a parcel they’re trying to get the money together to purchase in North Stonington. It is a huge, 400-acre property which abuts some Nature Conservancy parcels and other Avalonia land, and is flat-out wonderful—Native American stonework everywhere, old colonial-era foundations, three 500+ foot mountains (okay, big hills)… So fantastic! Hope the $ comes through soon.

Corn Drill Holes

Corn Drill Holes

When it comes to Native American stonework, I am firmly in the “sometimes a pile of rocks is, in fact, just a pile of rocks” camp. But the folks I was hiking with today may have made a believer of me. Firstly, we came to a spot in the woods that looked like a perfect spot for an encampment—kind of a box canyon area, and up on the hillside there were these two corn drilling holes. And for another thing, this property was absolutely full of those funny little stone walls that seem to go nowhere and enclose nothing that are sometimes characterized as “Serpent Effigy Walls.” From the Palisades Newsletter:

The New England Antiquities Research Association makes a forceful argument for the existence of stone wall construction by native Americans in the northeast, one at least having been dated to 4700 BC.

They assert that a significant number of stone rows commonly thought to have been built by colonists do not conform to colonial practices or functions. These rows meander through the woods connecting large boulders, bedrock outcroppings with hill tops, rivers and swamps, exactly as does the Storm King Wall. Some of these rows mark the rising or the setting of the sun on the solstice or the equinox, suggesting they were built to connect features of the landscape in a sacred way.

It’s a controversial subject, and I’m still not 100% sure I know where I stand.

Possible Record-Breaking Chestnut Oak

Possible Record-Breaking Chestnut Oak

The trail (and when I say trail, I actually mean a series of flags through the brush—there are no actual trails here, just a few old woods roads) meandered through a chestnut oak forest which included two massive old trees that may qualify as “Notable” or “Champion” trees, that is, trees that are very old and very large.

Quarry

Quarry

We came upon an old, but not really terribly old, quarry site. This rock shows drill holes for dynamite.

Cairn

Cairn

We saw many of these rock cairns we’re all so familiar with. Prayer mound or pile of rocks? I report, you decide.

Perfect Pileated Hole

Perfect Pileated Hole

There was also plenty of flora and fauna. Although we never saw the bird, we all concluded that this particular Pileated Woodpecker must be a genius engineer. This rectangular drill hole was so perfect!

Eastern Box Turtle

Eastern Box Turtle

And one member of our expedition was practically standing on this guy when I noticed him. Look at that color! I read in Wikipedia (so it MUST be true) that the eyes of the males have red irises while the females’ eyes are brown. So I’m guessing this is a male. The Eastern Box Turtle is a listed species, and is considered Vulnerable.

Colonial Era Cellarhole

Colonial Era Cellar Hole

Front Steps

Front Steps

Another member of our group was a descendant of the family that probably built this house. It was a beautiful example of a large center-hearth foundation. Really lovely spot.

Creepy Plant

Creepy Plant

And finally, there was a wealth of interesting plants. This is Dolls Eyes, Actaea pachypoda. And besides being creepy, it’s also quite poisonous, in that ingesting any part of the plant, but especially the berries, can lead to rapid cardiac arrest and death.

I am not posting a Gaia GPS track for this hike, as it is still technically private property, although Avalonia has been given permission to lead hikes on it for fundraising purposes. I will totally let you know when, or if, it becomes public property. It’s a real gem.

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