America’s Stonehenge: Inside the Rocky History of New Hampshire’s Mystery Hill

Maria J. Danford

New Hampshire just isn’t identified as the Granite Point out for practically nothing. A single point my birthplace has in abundance is rocks. In its very long historical past, New Hampshire has been the settling put of numerous peculiar and inert stony masses: the much-skipped Outdated Male of the Mountain, climate-ravaged Mount Washington, and my huge brother Doug, to identify a couple. 

I like them all, but just one conglomeration of rocks has captured my imagination — and a specific degree of archaeological notoriety — for many years. I refer, of training course, to the inscrutable landscape of stone and earth that locals continue to connect with Thriller Hill. You may well know it as America’s Stonehenge.

Journey Into Thriller

I became knowledgeable of the put at the age of nine, looking at In Research of… the traditional 1970s Tv demonstrate hosted by Leonard Nimoy and devoted to unsolved mysteries and unusual phenomena. A single episode focused on Thriller Hill — a internet site of uncanny stone rings and buildings whose quite existence suggested to some minds the pre-Columbian existence of civilizations with advanced know-how of architecture and astronomy, most likely even a flavor for blood sacrifice.

The episode showcased commentary by Hans Holzer, parapsychologist and professional on phantoms and poltergeists. Evidently, Holzer also researched archaeology and historic languages. Who understood? He confidently declared that markings on a stone at Thriller Hill — which looked an dreadful large amount like scrapes from a farmer’s plow, but hardly ever brain — were evidence of historic Phoenicians in New Hampshire, generations before the to start with European colonists. 

It was just 40 miles from my household. I had to go. If this put elicited the curiosity of Mr. Spock and the best ghost hunter this side of Scooby-Doo, you understood it was value a search.

And so it proved to be, when in 1977 I finally certain my mothers and fathers to take a look at Thriller Hill, located in Salem (but not that Salem). The stone chambers were spooky in this article and there various rocks jutted from the floor at odd and unnatural angles. I was in particular riveted by the so-identified as sacrificial desk, a multi-ton slab with unusual channels carved close to the stone sides.

“Which is so blood can drain off,” my brother helpfully noticed. “I guess they killed tons of individuals in this article. Even young children.” He eyed me thoughtfully, as if struck by an intriguing notion.

America Stonehenge - Wikimedia Commons

(Credit rating: Stan Shebs/CC BY-SA three./Wikimedia Commons)

Breathless travel writers and the destination’s web site itself describe the space as a maze, suggesting a extensive, forbidding labyrinth concealed within just a primeval forest, the type of put just one might undertaking into and hardly ever return. Though the internet site does sit on thirty acres of woodland, most of the stone buildings occupy a comparatively modest space. And even though there are without a doubt winding paths and subterranean chambers dotting the landscape, it is really no maze. You would have to be supremely inattentive or obtuse to get lost there. 

My brother obtained lost there. We located him eventually, but our mom created an uncomfortable fuss about it. So it took some convincing — and the passage of far more than thirty many years — to get him to return, which we did just one pre-COVID summer season not very long back.

Theories (Not Rather) Established in Stone

In fairness to my brother, plenty of other individuals have absent astray at Thriller Hill more than the many years. William Goodwin, an insurance policies executive who bought the home in the nineteen thirties, considered that the stone buildings there were developed by Irish monks who someway created it to America in the eleventh century. He was so certain of this “truth” that he created alterations to the internet site to suit his idea.

“[Goodwin] is documented as owning ‘rearranged’ numerous of the stones on the home, so that it is not probable now to know what is unique — if nearly anything — and what is the consequence of Goodwin’s operate,” suggests Curtis Runnels, a professor of archaeology, anthropology and classical scientific tests at Boston College.

Afterwards, a Harvard scientist named Barry Fell researched clear inscriptions on stones at Thriller Hill and claimed these markings were Phoenician or Iberian in origin. Fell, it is really value noting, was a marine biologist, your go-to male if you desired to know about, say, sea urchins. But his forays into epigraphy were most likely a lot less accomplished and gained him mostly skepticism and ridicule from the scientific local community.

All we know for absolutely sure about the early historical past of the internet site is that it served as a homestead and a rock quarry in the nineteenth century, and that Indigenous People were when active there, perhaps for generations. However, novice researchers, New Age devotees and the present house owners keep on to help the belief that America’s Stonehenge’s functions are as aged as four,000 many years, were developed by prehistoric European people, and may well even have some connection to the individuals who developed Stonehenge on England’s Salisbury Basic. In truth, the only website link amongst America’s Stonehenge and the genuine point is the identify itself, and that bit of rebranding did not happen right until the eighties. Runnels notes that no verifiable evidence has at any time turned up to help any of the wilder claims encompassing the internet site.

“There are no European artifacts these types of as metals or pottery at the internet site,” Runnels suggests. “There are no European artifacts any place in North America courting to 2,000-four,000 many years back.” In short, whichever occurred on the ridge at Thriller Hill is not regarded for specific, but, Runnels provides, “Based on the available evidence — fairly than unsupported conjecture — the various stone preparations on the internet site were produced by house owners of the home in the nineteenth and twentieth generations and have no connection to prehistoric Europe.”

A Stroll Among the Rocks

On our return trip to Thriller Hill not very long back, my brother and I wandered in fantastic solitude (at $thirteen a head, you might have the put to you, also). In the intervening many years considering that our childhood take a look at, I had been to the genuine Stonehenge, and there was no comparison. No trilithons of towering majesty in this article. The stone partitions and buildings appeared lesser than I remembered, far more like deserted cellars than a temple developed by an advanced individuals. Even the sacrificial desk had lost its luster.

“Yup, that’s likely a lye stone to make soap,” my brother helpfully noticed. He now owns an 18th-century farmhouse and is aware a bit about Colonial-era tools, but authorities have shared this check out as effectively.

Does that indicate Thriller Hill just isn’t value a take a look at? Effectively, I wouldn’t go that considerably. It can be continue to a diverting walk in the woods — if you have young children, you could do even worse than receiving them out in character in a put that is full of curiosities. Even Runnels acknowledges that the site holds some virtue. “It would undoubtedly qualify as an archaeological internet site,” he suggests. “In truth, there are two archaeological web sites at Thriller Hill: Indigenous American and Colonial American.” 

But if I had any guidance for the present curators, it is really this: Adhere with the unique identify. Your hill is no Stonehenge, but it continue to holds plenty of mystery.

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