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

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

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.


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


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

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

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


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

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.

UPDATE, Wednesday, January 10, 2018: Money has been awarded to Avalonia to cover the purchase of this property by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. See http://avalonialandconservancy.org/avalonia-receives-94575…/ for details.


4 Responses to “Unnamed Parcel, N. Stonington”

  1. USET Resolution No. 2007:037
    United South and Eastern Tribes, Incorporated (USET) is an intertribal organization comprised of twenty-four (24) federally recognized Tribes; and WHEREAS, the actions taken by the USET Board of Directors officially represent the intentions of each member Tribe, as the Board of Directors comprises delegates from the member Tribes’ leadership; and WHEREAS, within the ancestral territories of the USET Tribes there exists sacred Ceremonial Stone Landscapes and their stone structures which are of particular cultural value to certain USET member Tribes; and WHEREAS, for thousands of years before the immigration of Europeans, the medicine people of the USET Tribal ancestors used these Sacred Landscapes to sustain the people’s reliance on Mother Earth and the spirit energies of balance and harmony; and WHEREAS, during and following the Colonial oppression of Southern and Eastern Tribes, many cultural and ceremonial practices, including ceremonial use of stones and stone landscapes, were suppressed; and the properties which compromise these sacred landscapes are threatened by the encroachments of imminent development; and WHEREAS, whether these stone structures are massive or small structures, stacked, stone rows or effigies, these prayers in stone and often mistaken by archaeologists and State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) as the efforts of farmers clearing stones for agricultural or wall building purposes; and WHEREAS, archaeologists and SHPOs, categorically thereafter, dismiss these structures as non-Indian and insignificant, permitting them to be the subjects of the sacrilege of archaeological dissection and later destruction during development projects; and WHEREAS, Federal laws exist, including, but not limited to, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) as amended with 36 CFR Part 800, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Executive Order 13007, and all other related laws, rules, regulations and executive orders that support the rights of Tribal Nations, but have yet to proactively influence protection of Sacred Ceremonial Stone Landscape sites; and WHEREAS, many Sacred Ceremonial Stone Landscapes are on lands controlled by or are within projects which are advised, funded or permitted by government departments and agencies such as the Department of the Interior, Department of the Army, Department of Agriculture, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Communications Commission, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the National Register of Historic Places; andWHEREAS, claiming them as products of farm clearing, professional archaeologists and the SHPOs annually pass judgment on the significance and potential protection of these Sacred Ceremonial Stone Landscapes and their structures within USET ancestral territories; therefore, be it RESOLVED the USET Board of Directors requests that all relevant government departments and agencies actively and formally facilitate consultation with the federally recognized Indian Tribes of the region regarding the Sacred Ceremonial Stone Landscapes; and, be it further RESOLVED the USET Board of Directors recommends that the Federal departments and agencies facilitate regional workshops between Tribes, State Historic Preservation Offices, archaeologists and Federal Departments and Agencies to facilitate a better comprehension of these concerns and a correction in these dismissive and destructive local policies; and, be it further RESOLVED the USET Board of Directors requests a draft Federal Government enforcement policy for the protection of the National Historic Preservation Act under Executive Order 13007; and, be it further RESOLVED the Federal Government will provide the member Tribes of United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. with assistance, when requested, for the protection of historical sites and Sacred Landscapes within their ancestral territories.

  2. […] realized I’d been on this part of the Wapayu not once but twice before. The first time was in September of 2017, before Avalonia had even acquired it. And the second time was virtually this exact hike with a […]

  3. […] know I posted about this the last time I hiked this property (before Avalonia had actually acquired it), but it’s such a remarkable sight I needed to post […]

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