Historical Accounts of Forgotten Stone-Heaping Practices on Nineteenth-Century Hill Farms
This article offers a modest contribution to the ongoing debate among archaeologists, Native American cultural authorities, and avocational researchers concerning the historical origins of the stone-heap sites commonly found in New England’s forested hills. The author’s recent review of historical periodicals, mainly newspapers and agricultural journals, yielded many previously unknown references to farmers constructing stone heaps by hand in working fields and pastures. Popular perceptions of this apparently widespread phenomenon varied. While stone heaping provided opportunities for both young and old family members to prove their worth, some ideologically progressive farmers expressed a strong distain for the practice. By the late 19th century, the region’s abundant stone heaps discovered a new value as raw material for large roadbuilding projects and came to symbolize a simpler way of life that had slipped away as the industrial age gained strength. These findings underscore the possibility that some proportion of the stone-heap sites that contemporary stakeholders identify as elements of ceremonial stone landscapes were created by 19th-century farmers for practical reasons.
"Historical Accounts of Forgotten Stone-Heaping Practices on Nineteenth-Century Hill Farms,"
Northeast Historical Archaeology:
49, Article 10.
Available at: https://orb.binghamton.edu/neha/vol49/iss1/10