Before there were paper calendars and before there were computers, people kept track of the months and seasons by astrological means. The ancient peoples noted that the sun and moon were always in predictable locations at the same time every year. Most civilizations built structures to keep track of the movement of the sun and moon. Everyone has heard of Stonehenge in England, but did you know that right across the border in New Hampshire there is a megalithic stone site?
Located in Salem, New Hampshire, the site, estimated to be at least 4,000 years old, is known as America’s Stonehenge. Carbon dating that has been done in several places confirms walls as old as 2000 BC. This site has also been used by Native Americans and in the 1700-1800’s by a family named Pattee. There are many stone caves, huts and walls and Mr.Pattee apparently used some of the huts for storage. Some of the chambers and walls appear to have been constructed on a particular astrological axis, both east-west and north-south. Markings on some of the stones are similar to those found in ancient sites in Europe. One particular hole is similar to some found in Malta. When this site was re-discovered in the 1930’s, speculation was that the site was built by Irish Culdee Monks. Unfortunately, there has been some disturbance of the original site by Mr. William Goodwin, who was the main excavator at that time. There seems to be no definite conclusion as to who actually built the structures on the site. As I walked around the huts and walls, I marveled as I always do, that I was walking where people had lived and walked thousands of years ago. To me, that is awesome! Whoever has occupied the site over the years does not distract from the ancient datings and the alignment of the stones. There are even petroglyphs in some of the huts. Again, while they have been studied by experts, there is no consensus on who made them. There is a sacrificial table with a channel, possibly a drain, carved along the top. This slab is near the “oracle speaking tube” and chamber. This is a stone-lined tube exit through which sounds travel. Someone could be in the chamber above and speak into the tube and the words would appear to come from under the sacrificial slab – hence an “oracle” could be speaking. This whole site is absolutely fascinating. There are so few truly old structures in North America and this site is ancient! The astronomical arrangement of monolithic stones was proven in ”1979 to be accurate for both Spring and Fall Equinox sunsets.” It takes about 15 minutes to follow the astronomical trail to view the True North Stone, the Summer Solstice Sunrise Stone, the May Day monolith, the November 1st Stone and several other markers. The ancient peoples were experts on viewing and interpreting astrological patterns. America’s Stonehenge is open year round, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the winter they offer snowshoeing around the woodland site. (As a sidelight, there is a small herd of alpacas here to entertain you with their perpetual smiles!) This whole site is absolutely fascinating. For an interesting and entertaining excursion, you won’t regret a trip to these rocky remnants from pre-history. Directions (from their brochure) From I-93: Take I-93 to Exit 3. Follow Route 111 east for 4.5 miles. Watch for our sign just past North Salem Village Shops. Turn right at the intersection with the traffic light. Follow this road for 1 mile. Entrance is on the right.From 495: Take Exit 50 to Route 97 North towards Salem. Follow approximately 4 miles. At your first set of lights (97 Shoppes will be on your right), turn right and follow approximately 4 miles. America’s Stonehenge will be on your left. After this walking and viewing, we’re hungry – on to Warren’s Lobster House in Kittery. Warren’s is one of our favorite restaurants – maybe our most favorite. They have an extensive salad bar with to-die-for pumpkin bread! This salad bar accompanies meals or you can have it alone or with my favorite, grilled shrimp. Scrumptious desserts are served in smaller portions (less calories) so everyone can enjoy one. No trip to the New Hampshire border is complete without a stop at Warren’s.