America's Stonehenge (previously called Mystery Hill) lies in Salem, New Hamsphire and has been called the greatest megalithic enigma of North Am
erica puzzling archaeologists for almost a century.
The site covers some 105 acres and includes a variety of stone constructions from different eras: some as recent as the 17th and 18th Centuries but others of megalithic origin and inexplicable. Standing stones, a series of low walls, stone chambers, natural caves, possession ways and tunnels are dotted around the area.
A large number of carbon dating was undertaken from charcoal samples and these suggest the site contains structures as old as 7000 years and as recent as 200 years ago with the oldest construction date of 2995BC.
Purpose of the site
It is uncertain as to what the purpose of the structures was except to say the huge monolithic standing stones all line up to the sun, moon or star as seen from a central viewing slab. From this slab, the megalithic 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 One central stone is aligned to the star Thuban, (Alpha Draconis) the pole star of between 4000 and 1900 B.C . Exact alignments coincide with a date of 2499 B.C. to 1900 B.C.
In addition to the standing stones, the stone walls are built to align with astronomical points with over two hundred alignments with the moon. One alignment wall suggests knowledge of the 18.61 metonic cycle, allowing observation of the southernmost standstill of the moon. This cycle reflects the imperfect elliptical orbit the moon takes around the earth.
The Oracle Chamber & Sacrificial Stone
One of the star attractions of the site is an enormous flat stone, like a great table, resting above the ground on four stone legs. The table is edge by a groove that leads to a spout. Named "Sacrificial Stone" is it possibly this was indeed its purpose, the gutter allowing the blood of the sacrifice to drain off.
Underneath the Sacrificial Stone lies a shaft around eight feet long which leads to an underground chamber and probably constructed to a conceal a priest. Hidden in this way, the priests voice would appear as the disembodied voice of an oracle to the crowd gathered around the altar.
There are a number of underground chambers on the site with astronomical alignments. These include a "south facing" chamber constructed from large quarried rock and are covered by several huge lintel slabs to form a classic V-hut type chamber similar to European Neolithic structures and bearing a striking resemblance to those in the British Isles.
The East-West chamber, a three sectioned chamber with massive roof lintels and entry stones of several tons. This chamber, like others in Europe, is located on an old fault line with discernible magnetic attributes
Charles Pearson, who surveyed the complex in 1987
The number of very large and prominent stones is limited and those very large stones happen to be the ones that make up the significant astronomical alignments. To state that this site is a calendar by statistical probability or by "accident" and not by design demonstrates a complete misinterpretation of the obvious physical evidence at the site, and a misrepresentation of the facts located at the site. Comments were made indicating that with over 100 standing stones and the freedom to adjust the observation center of the site to any location desired, that purely by chance one could demonstrate a calendar site at any location. This is obviously not the case at Mystery Hill.
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.
Archaeologist Warren Dexter
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.