The complex, a series of stone walls containing large, shaped, standing stones, covers well over 30 acres. Like Stonehenge in England, America's Stonehenge was built by ancient people well versed in astronomy and stone construction. Though several independent surveys by qualified researchers, it has been determined that the site is an accurate, astronomically aligned calendar. It was, and still can be, used to determine specific solar and lunar events of the year.
Archaeological excavation at the site has uncovered numerous historic and pre-historic artifacts, stone tools, pottery, and samples suitable for radiocarbon dating. Charcoal from excavations proved to be 3000 and 4000 years old respectively.
A number of stones found in and around the main site exhibit man-made markings. Many of these have been translated by noted epigraphers, as ancient old world scripts with origins in Phoenician, Libyan and Celtic languages.
About 40 miles north of the city of Boston, and about 25 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, is what appears to be the greatest, and perhaps oldest, megalithic enigma of North America. Running across the 30 acres of hillside are a series of low walls, cave-like primitive buildings, and tunnels that are spread about with, according to one archaeologist, “gigantic confusion and childish disorder, deep cunning and rude naively.” The lack of household artifacts and grave goods leads us to believe that the site was a ceremonial center and neither living quarters nor a “city.”
While the hill is compared to the English Stonehenge circle, it is, at first glance, physically quite different. Stonehenge is located on a plain, not a hill, and is arranged neatly as a series of concentric circles, horseshoes and squares. Mystery Hill seems a jumble in comparison. The stones involved in Stonehenge are larger, up to 45 tons. The stones at Mystery Hill are smaller (the largest is about 11 tons) and the construction less intricate.
Both sites do have some common points, though. Firstly, they served as observatories. Each has been found to have astronomical alignments including summer solstice. Secondly, we know almost nothing about the builders of either location.
While we don’t know the type of ceremonies that may have gone on at Stonehenge, we do know something about the apparent activity on the hill. One of the main features of the site is an enormous flat stone, like a great table, resting above the ground on four legs. Around the edge of the table runs a groove that leads to a spout. This great slab has been named the “Sacrificial Stone” and certainly may have served such a function. The gutter probably allowed the blood of the sacrifice to drain off the top.
Underneath the Sacrificial Stone is a shaft eight feet long leading to an underground chamber. It seems reasonable that this allowed a priest concealed in the chamber to speak as the voice of an oracle. To a crowd gathered around the altar the sound would appear to float up from the Sacrificial Stone like the voice of some disembodied spirit.
In addition to the oracle chamber and the Sacrificial Stone the site has a number of other artificial caves and passages. At least one was constructed with a drain to keep them from being flooded. The purpose of the rest of these structures, except one, which appears to be a water well, are unknown.
The Watch House
Over the years the more interesting features and structures on-site have been given un-scientific names that insinuate inferred function. The “Watch House” is the name given to a chamber structure located outside the main complex at Mystery Hill. The entryway of the structure is not easily accessible. After passing through a small entrance hole, a narrow stone passageway leads into a large interior space. An existing glacial boulder was used for one of the walls of the chamber and smaller field stones make up the other walls. The roof is a massive, quarried slab of granite of several tons. On the back wall of the chamber the stones contain a high percentage of white quartz, a stone found in its pure form in many of the neolithic structures over the world and treasured by ancient peoples for its reflective qualities. This particular chamber is aligned to the February first sunrise and lunar minor south. At sunrise on this date the sunlight enters the entrance of the chamber and slowly moves along one wall until it illuminates the quartz crystals at the back wall, making the semi-precious gems sparkle noticeably. February first was one of the eight most important divisions of the Keltic year as we shall discuss in more detail later.
Across the Mystery Hill site are huge monolithic standing stones (some now fallen) all of which line up to sun, moon or star alignments as seen from a central viewing slab located by one of the earlier researchers at the site. From this slab, monoliths align to the Midwinter solstice sunrise and sunset, the November one sunrise and sunset, the Spring and Fall Equinox sunrises and sunsets, the May one sunrise and sunset, the Midsummer solstice sunrise and sunset, the August one sunrise and sunset and true north (This stone is aligned to the star Thuban, the pole star of 2,000 B.C.). On these days the sun will either rise or set above worked monolith stones. Exact alignments coincide, according to scholars and astronomers, with a date of 2499 B.C. to 1900 B.C.
Stone walls throughout the site also provide over 200 astronomical alignments with the moon, 45 different stars and important geographic points. One long stone wall aligns with true south. Another alignment wall allows one to observe the southernmost standstill of the moon on its 18.61 year metonic cycle. This cycle reflects the imperfect elliptical orbit the moon takes around the earth. Gravitational forces may sometimes take the moon away from a perfect ellipsis by a relatively subtle 5 degrees north or south of the southern limit of the sun. A period of 18.61 is required to carry the moon to all of its possible positions in respect to the sun. This event is marked at Mystery Hill as the moon passes above the Winter solstice stone and then aligns with the terminal of this wall. This moon cycle was supposedly discovered by the Greek astronomer Meton in 433 B.C. although this astronomical phenomenon would now seem to have been understood much earlier than originally believed.
The purpose of other walls seems less clear to scholars. Two walls made of quarried bedrock (not the field stones of colonial walls) delineate a long path whose starting point is bathed by the May first sunrise. It would appear that it was a processional way through which worshippers would pass to enter sacred areas, much like at several of the megalithic sites in the British Isles, most notably the much larger, mile-long stone-lined Kennet and Beckhampton Avenues of the huge megalithic complex at Avebury, built sometime between 3,000 B.C. and 2,500 B.C. It would be quite a site to have a throng gathered for procession, cued by the crossing of the sunlight and shadow cast by the sunrise across the processional way.
Other impressive constructions on the site include a number of underground chambers with clear astronomical alignments including; a “south facing” chamber made of large quarried rock and covered by several multi-ton lintel slabs; a classic V-hut chamber, above ground, wedge shaped and adjacent to a large basin cut into the bedrock which was a starting point for a network of sophisticated drains that extends to the east. This chamber is oriented to the southwest like many similar European Neolithic structures and bears a striking resemblance to those found like it in the British Isles. The East-West chamber, a three sectioned chamber also made with massive roof lintels and entry stones of several tons is on site as well. This chamber, like others in Europe, is located on an old fault line some say because of the discernible magnetic phenomenon that occur near geological sites of this kind.
The calendrical orientations of the slab-roofed chambers, it would seem, would rule out these structures being constructed as root cellars by early American colonists or the woodlands Indians of the northeast as neither were concerned with alignments that coincide with the most important of yearly Keltic celebrations. Further, noted archaeo-astronomer Byron Dix has determined that New England is replete with underground chambers. He says, “. . . there are some 105 astronomically aligned chambers in Massachusetts, 51 in New Hampshire, 41 in Vermont, 62 in Connecticut, 12 in Rhode Island, and 4 in Maine. Suffice it to say, it is obvious that the alignments found at Mystery Hill, and other sites are not random.
There are many other exciting and surprising features at the Mystery Hill complex. These include an ancient on-site well providing the site with fresh water and not dated to the Colonial period; a megaron court area which may have been an entry area to the complex or a gathering place for large groups of worshippers to meet before entering; a tool sharpening stone and a quartz crystal mining shaft for the extraction of pure quartz. Quartz was a very valuable commodity to the ancient peoples, but quartz was equally, if not more, important for spiritual reasons and mystical science. Quartz, in fact, was purposefully embedded in triangular chunks at the back of many New England and European chambers, positioned to be illuminated by the sun as it shone through roof openings only on those very few days, usually the Equinoxes, when the sun could pass through the roof opening. Quartz can be found not only in areas where it naturally abounds, but in areas where it is scarce, having been brought there for ceremonial purposes by ancient peoples.
One of the central features of the Mystery Hill site is the sacrificial table/altar. It is a 4.5 ton grooved slab whose purpose is still under debate by scholars.
The Oracle Chamber
It too bears a striking resemblance to altar stones found at megalithic sites in Europe. And we do know that blood sacrifice and altars such as these were connected firmly to Neolithic religions.
The builders of Avebury, the Iberian Phoenicians and the Vatic Druids were known to conduct human sacrifices. The bodies of small children or “strangers” (referred to as strangers because the artifacts found with the skeletal remains did not match the cultural objects of the builders of the sites) have been found near megalithic monuments. They were many times interred with the remains of specific animals?a boar in one or an ox in another?inferring a totem or clan relationship to the grave site. These bodies showed obvious forensic signs of ritual murder. It was said in Ireland, a land with over 2,000 megalithic sites, that the greatest enemy of St. Patrick was manifest in a standing stone addicted to human sacrifice.
But even more than mere physical resemblance to European sites, it was carbon dating, carried out under the supervision of respected scientists from Geochron Laboratories in 1971 that supported the disputed claims of researchers who were being ridiculed for insisting that Mystery Hill was a site of extreme antiquity. Carbon tests conducted on charcoal found alongside a stone pick and a hammer stone unearthed at an excavation near one of the underground chambers reveal a date of 2,000 B.C. The artifacts were clearly related to Neolithic pieces of the same era in the British Isles and Iberia. The excavation pit carbon tested had been undisturbed before digging and layers of strata above were perfectly intact. Charcoal dating of tree roots penetrating one of the other chambers revealed a date of 1690 B.C. (Could it be that this complex was started by the same culture who built Stonehenge? The Stonehenge builders must have possessed sturdy ships if scholars are correct about their ability to haul the multi-ton monoliths hundreds of miles along the rivers of England to their resting sites on the Salisbury Plain.
Artifacts found near another charcoal pit included a hammer stone, spallings and a scraper. Its carbon date was determined to be later?995 B.C. Obviously this complex had been inhabited, and these tools left, by our distant ancestors thousands of years ago.
Unfortunately, many of the other structures at the site were carted away, vandalized or destroyed?yet what remains should be viewed as one of the most important historical sites in the Western Hemisphere. And Mystery Hill is notaby far?the only megalithic site in New England whose origins are somewhat clouded.
Megalithic constructions known as dolmens can be found all across new England, the western part of Europe and even into Syria and South Africa. Dolmen comes from the Breton word for stone table as the dolmens in many instances are three, four or five smaller boulders topped by an immense, flat-topped boulder than can weigh any where from several tons to 90 tons. Many of these capstones are however roundish, dressed stones, and not flat topped.
The dolmen usually was erected to commemorate the death of a chieftain or an historical event of great importance and scriptural incisions usually accompany the dolmen on stone markers. Some experts believe that the dolmen was actually a tomb that was then covered in huge amounts of earth?in effect a tumulous tomb in which the earth has been eroded away. Dolmens are frequently occurring structures in the American northeast. There are in fact over 200 examples of dolmens in New England alone and some very impressive examples can be found in our country as far away as California.
Another frequently occurring megalithic structure familiar to all readers is the stone circle. We know of the great Stonehenge complex in England with its huge Sarcen (meaning “heathen stones” and derived from the word Saracen) stones found there and the many calendrical alignments they delineate. But there are ancient stone circles in New England as well.
Taken all together, these megalithic carvings, buildings, monoliths, calendar circles, stone phalli, fertility fetishes and other striking stone monuments, all so reminiscent of those in Europe, might be enough to infer an ancient European culture had built them.