Are rock cairns a Native American ritual site?

Nov 15, 2009 by

A complex of 53 mysterious rock cairns was found on a remote hill above a rural West Virginia farm in the Appalachian hills. What are they — a place of Native American vision quest? A de-fleshing site for bodies? A state archaelogist is trying to figure it out.

Rick Steelhammer | Charleston Gazette | Nov. 14, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Shortly after a surveyor marked off the boundaries of his newly purchased farm in southern Cabell County two years ago, the landowner hiked its perimeter. Halfway up a steep hillside behind his home, he noticed a series of rock piles on a bench of flat land and walked over to investigate.

He found dozens of carefully stacked conical, circular and oblong rock piles, ranging in height from a foot or two to more than seven feet.

Many of the moss- and lichen-draped rocks were stacked atop boulders while others were freestanding, or connected two or more boulders. Some were capped with large flat rocks or contained basinlike cavities or rectangular niches. Others were wall-like, and fronted the rock cairns or the edges of the bench.

In all, there turned out to be 53 of the mysterious rock cairns on three adjacent benches wedged onto a 60 percent slope. Eighteen of the rock structures were built on top of boulders, three have flat, platformlike tops and four are conical.

After taking in the scene, the property owner (who asked that his name not be used to help conceal the location of the structures) walked back to his house.

“I said to my wife, ‘There’s something weird up there,'” he recalled during a recent visit to the site. “It took too much work to have been a farmer clearing off some land.” | READ ON

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