One of the eerier pleasures of outdoor living in the Hudson Valley is the sudden discovery while hiking of the stone remains of some human-made structure. They may be relatively recent, post-Colonial: a cairn of flat rocks piled up to mark a turn in a trail, the collapsed chimney or foundation of some huckleberry-picker’s cabin, the windbreak walls of a livestock enclosure, the berms of a root cellar. Other rock shelters seem to be the hunting or fishing camps of the region’s indigenous peoples; some have turned up artifacts that go back to the end of the last Ice Age.
And then there are a few with more mysterious origins and purposes that evoke the ritual stone circles and megaliths of Pagan Europe: clusters of stones that seem to align with astronomical phenomena and the cycle of the seasons. Glenn Kreisberg, a radio frequency engineer, writer and current chair of the Overlook Mountain Center in Woodstock, is a past vice president of the New England Antiquities Research Association, a group of curious folk who are fascinated by these cryptic ancient structures and determined to discover what they were used for. Kreisberg has researched and published articles and interviews on electromagnetism and the ancients, ceremonial stone structure sites and alignments in the Northeast US and archaeoacoustics: the archaeology of sound.
“Evidence may exist to support the theory that an ancient cultural group used features in the landscape of the Northeast woods to express their belief system and carry out astronomical observations. Were the observations preserved by manipulating the natural terrain to create alignments between landscape features, manmade monuments and the horizon?” Kreisberg writes. “Some of the alignments appear configured over great distances. Petroforms and geoglyphs have been discovered which appear to represent star constellations in the northern sky. These findings hold the potential to reshape our understanding and concept of what ancient (prehistoric) man, in our region, knew and was capable of accomplishing.”
If you get a tingle up your spine every time you encounter a strange rockpile in the woods, or think about birds using the Earth’s magnetic field to migrate over immense distances and then get to wondering if there isn’t some hard science lying behind the “occultism” of geomancy and ley lines, you might want to check out Kreisberg’s lecture on stone cultural features and ceremonial landscapes of the Catskills and Hudson Valley this Saturday afternoon. “Lost Landscapes and Hidden Legacies: A Survey of Stone Structure Sites in the Hudson Valley, Shawangunk and Catskill Mountains of New York” begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 20 at the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center, located at 5096 Route 28 in Mount Tremper. For more info, call (845) 688-3096 or visit www.catskillinterpretivecenter.org.