Monday, November 11, 2013

America's Stonehenge

Days off from work and school often provide an opportunity to explore the various sights and scenes of my local region.  Having exhausted various museums, zoos and playgrounds we are now onto the more obscure activities.

Like "America's Stonehenge" in Salem, NH.  Having passed the location numerous times and always wondering just what it is, today was the day to find out.  A supposed location of stone structures built by unknown individuals prior to the arrival of Columbus--Were they Vikings??  Sailing Irish Monks? Phoenicians?  Aliens?  Who knows!?!?

Some carbon dating of campfire ashes from the site reportedly dates back to some 2000 BC but that's certainly not the same (if THAT's even true) as people at 2000 BC being responsible for the stone formations found in this location.  In fact the original name of the place, the oh so cliche "Mystery Hill" tells you this was more than likely a typical tourist trap of the early 1900's when people of Boston first began to venture out in droves by car from the more southern cities.  Later owners would discard this name in favor of its current "America's Stonehenge" though there is no connection between the to sites.

Now some stones here do evidently line up with sun and stars at various times of the year (solstice, equinox, North Star, etc.) but none of these were "found" until the 20th century and even the history of the site notes that these stones had been set up in their current locations due to them having previously fallen down.

Historical records do indicate that the site was used as a sort of YMCA in colonial times with the homeless and destitute given use of the place for shelter in times of need.  Additionally there appears to be SOME indication that the site may have also been used to hide escaped slaves as part of the underground railroad--though seemingly every cave and old house in New England was part of the underground railroad at this point (a bit of "we can't be racist!!  we were part of the underground railroad!!" mentality amongst modern New Englanders?).  But of true evidence for this site being the creation of some wayward Norse explorers or other ancient, unknown builders, nothing really exists.

Even the supposed, sacrificial stone seen in the photo here has a far more likely explanation--colonial farmers would create lye from wood ashes for use in soap with such a setup.  But the general population of hippies and new agers who frequent this site (on the day we visited there were several van loads fruitcake women and their children exploring the site with giant gongs a banging and hippie clothes a dragging) don't let actual facts get in the way of their beliefs.  And that's OK.  Every community needs its myths and legends and this hokey Mystery Hill/America's Stonehenge site is one that has national recognition.  If it creates a few smiles, gets people out of the house and using their can't be all bad...

No comments: