Author of the Month

Serpent of the North: The Overlook Mountain/Draco Correlation (cont.)
By Glenn M. Kreisberg, New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA)

The construction of the cell tower caused the destruction of 5 of the nearly 60 stone cairns present in the vicinity. In 2006 as part of the cell tower application review process, Sherry White, Tribal Preservation Officer of the Stockbridge Munsee Community Band of Mohican, visited the cairns and expressed the belief that the larger of the structures could be memorial or “burial” cairns. Having toured the entire site, it was her belief the Overlook Mountain cairn complex can likely be seen as a “sacred precinct” where memorial or burial cairns were constructed locally, over many successive generations, and perhaps, as part of a much wider spread, spiritual, ritualistic, ceremonial practice and belief. Due to the presence of cultural resources of historic (and perhaps prehistoric) significance at the site, a National Register of Historic Places application for the California Quarry property was prepared, submitted and is currently in review and pending with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

In 2008 members of the New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA) visited the site along with researchers from the New York State Museum in Albany. Museum GIS specialist Susan Winchell-Sweeney conducted a GPS site survey documenting the quantity and location of the remaining stone constructions. In all, 6 very large cairns (up to 100 ft in length), 46 small cairns (up to 10 ft in length), 2 “snake” effigies or “serpent “ walls (90’) and 2 springs were identified and their size and location data recorded.

After receiving the above plotted site data image from Susan Winchell in late 2008 I initially made little of the distribution, concentration or configuration of the several dozen plotted points. There did seem to be deliberate groupings and clusters of the smaller cairns while the “great” cairns appeared to be spread about more randomly. But nothing really jumped out at me. It wasn’t until about a year later (late 2009), that I revisited the data image with the intention of “connecting the dots”.

My good friend and fellow NEARA member David Holden, who had first introduced me to the cairns, had suggested that perhaps connecting the points could reveal a pattern which he believed, on a hunch, could depict the Pleiades star cluster. Somewhat skeptical, I decided to conduct the exercise of tracing the dots onto a piece of paper and comparing them to a star chart of the northern constellations. Susan Winchell’s data revealed there were 8 large stone constructions seemingly, randomly scattered about the mountain side site, 6 “great” cairns and 2 “snake” effigy walls, each separate construction from 50’ – 100’ in length. I decided to start by tracing the point of those 8 locations to a piece of paper. I then connected the dots with straight lines in the only obvious and logical manner possible.

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