Sunday, September 7, 2014

Propped Boulders

Some Thoughts On Propped Boulders

Even though some of the pre-colonial stone structures and sites in New England are getting more attention from professionals, the issue of Propped Boulders seems to still be controversial, especially since the standard "glacial erratic" theory is so popular, and is conveniently used to explain away all propped boulders.  Below I have listed some reasons in support of the acknowledgement that boulders were carefully and intentionally propped in this region by pre-contact indigenous people's.

 -1)- Propped boulders are a world-wide phenomenon. Even into the early 20th century, some places in South-East Asia were practicing this megalithic custom, such as certain communities in Malaysia.

-2)- In Thor Heyerdahl's book Aku-Aku, a group of Native Easter Islander's began propping back up some of the Moai statues around the Polynesian island, which had all been knocked down by different families and clans of people during a civil war on the island some hundreds of years prior to the mid-2oth century. They used no modern technology to accomplish the feat of erecting the statues back at their posts. They used poles, ropes, and stacked smaller stones underneath the statues bit-by-bit until they could stand the statue back up.

  -3)- In examples such as the Easter Island statues, a single person can crudely manipulate upwards of several tons by themselves; and a whole group of people will be able to manipulate many more tons. Even if a project may take weeks or months, little by little huge boulders can be moved and propped by people, and in the Northeast of the United States, this was probably done in the summer months ("a time of leisure.")

-4)- Propped boulders occur throughout the United States, even in places that were never affected by the glacial ice-sheets, such as in Georgia. In Georgia there is a well-known propped-boulder that is associated with the Cherokee, in a former Cherokee village.

  -5)- The flag of the Montauk Nation, whose homelands is Long Island, New York, and who are an Algonquin people, have an image of a boulder on the edge of a ledge incorporated into their Nation's flag and in describing their flag their website states something like: "this is the kind of a place where important people would meet and hold council." This is true in other parts of the United States as well, and we see this in place names such as Council Bluffs Iowa, Council Bluffs Nebraska, etc.

  -6)- Undoubtedly the ancestors of Native people in the New England area ceremoniously built in stone, as we can see, and one of these old-time practices must have been propping boulders, usually on the edge of ledges. Some boulders even appear to be smoothed and rounded-out, and some even appear to be flipped. Others rest completely off the ground on smaller pedestal stones- and in some cases partially off the ground of the bedrock- this is what researchers generically call "dolmens."  In fact in looking at some of the pedestalled props, such as the 1st picture below, it is evident that glacial ice sheets could not have done this.

  -7)- No doubt there are glacial erratics in this area, but a lot of times these boulders were incorporated into other stone features built by human hands, such as native-style stone walls. Other boulders also appear to have man-made markings, and archeologists have confirmed this with some of the sites they have studied.  In other words, Native people modified the natural resources on their landscape, including boulders.

   -8)- Further, I have noticed that propped boulders may also play a role in tracking the movements of heavenly-bodies.  Through daily observation I have noticed the propped boulder across the street from me (6th picture down) is illuminated by sun-light each morning, as this boulder is oriented towards the East.  By mid-day (precisely around noon-time) the sun revolves around the sky and shines over a huge boulder that seems to have been modified located behind my yard on my neighbor's property.  By the time the sun sets, there are other propped boulders down the street that are located on hill-tops, which are oriented towards the West.  I especially like to visit one particular site down the street during the winter, when there is no brush in my line of sight, to witness such a spectacular sun-set.  These are no doubt "prayers in stone."   

Here are some pictures of Propped Boulders that I have taken:


Not acknowledging that Native people moved special heavy stones around in this region, over thousands of generations, working with a "feng'shui"-like element in mind with special meaning and purpose, is bigoted and closed-minded.


  1. Tim- Propped boulder #4 obviously looks like it was marked out to represent a turtle (a special interest of yours, I know.) Prop #8 also possibly looks like an abstract profile of a human face, with the chin tilted upwards.

  2. #4: "marked out" in what way? And is there space for a person (or two) under that boulder, behind the wall of stones? Could it have been/be used as a sweatlodge?
    #2 caught my attention as a rhomboidal stone.
    These are cell-phone photos?

    1. Yes these are cell phone photos (so far.) I try to make them the best quality I can.
      In my opinion I believe #4 boulder to represent a tortoise. You can see where the beak and the eye socket could have been worked out. Also where the flipper is, there are 3 lines that run down vertically, which I believe to be man-made markings/altercations to the boulder.

      There is also a nice piece of quartz stacked into the pile of stones. Behind the pile, yes, there is room for a person or 2, and is partly sub-terranian. It could have functioned as a sweat lodge, or perhaps as an offering niche/altar where sacred objects were kept, I am not sure, but it is clear this structure served an important function in the cosmology of the NDN world.

  3. Did I come close here:
    I hope the so far means some higher resolution pixs are coming!

    1. Yes sir, that is basically how I was looking at it!