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America’s Stonehenge

(Originally appearing in Horns & Crescents.)

Nobody knows who built this ancient megalith complex sitting on Mystery Hill in Salem, New Hampshire. America’s Stonehenge was named after the more famous sister site of standing stones in England. Although not as famous as England’s Stonehenge, they both have a lot in common. America’s Stonehenge is one of the largest stone sites on the continent. Both are astronomical calendars, aligned with the movements of the Earth through it’s orbit around the Sun. Different standing stones in the American complex mark the days of the solstices and equinoxes through the year. As the European complex supposedly marks ley lines, lines of power on the Earth, America’s Stonehenge probably fulfills a similar function. A workshop I attended casually ended at this site, and using our psychic and intuitive senses along with diving rods, we marked the lines of energy as we felt them. They run through the entire site, but seem to converge near the main complex of stones. Most of us generally felt the same lines. There is a subtle energy on Mystery Hill. Perhaps that’s how it got its name.

That’s where the similarities between the American and European site end. The main difference is size. When I heard Stonehenge, I expected something a bit more grand. Don’t get me wrong, America’s Stonehenge is impressive, but it is not the towering stone of England. The site is also more spread out, with many chambers and rooms, complete with solid stone capstones. One room, shaped like a “T” is called the “Oracle Chamber” leading to what’s been dubbed the “Sacrificial Table.” Scholars have presumed ritual sacrifice on this altar. They also believe a speaking tube from the “Oracle Chamber” was used to make the voices of spirits “mysteriously” come from beneath the altar table. Another stone chamber named the “Pattee Chamber” after Jonathon Pattee, an abolitionist who in colonial times, used this site as a station in the underground railroad. Pattee probably used the chamber as a root cellar while shuttling former slaves to freedom. The complex is filled with scattered standing stones of various sizes. Some are in obvious rows while others are appear to be random. But many serve as markers in the celestial calendar. The more random stones may mark the lines of unseen energy.

One stone in particularly spectacularly marks the setting sun on the day of the Summer Solstice. The Summer Solstice is one of the busiest days of the year for the site. It was opened to the public 1958 and now houses a visitors center containing discovered artifacts and an introductory movie about its history. Last year on this Solstice many Earth based spiritual groups gathered for celebration on this land, including a druid group, an Incan musical group and my own coven. It seems the owners of Stonehenge often give consent to pagan rituals. It was the first time we did a ritual so publicly and had a good experience. Although we had many visitors watching us, no one was disrespectful. After our Midsummer’s circle, we talked with people and answered questions. Participants felt the ritual was particularly powerful because of the location, but some others honestly felt no difference with the energy. One even commented she felt “bad vibes” from the area, particularly from the sacrificial table, but overall, the experience was quite positive for all of us. After the ritual we wandered around the site, exploring the different trails and markers.
Many artifacts, now housed at the visitor’s center, include stone tools, pottery, stone carvings of a running deer and something that may be a Celtic Sun symbol. Other markings may have origins in Phoenician, Libyan and Celtic languages. Charcoal from excavations of America’s Stonehenge in 1969 and 1971 were used in radiocarbon dating, setting their ages at 3000 and 4000 years old. All of this rather mind blowing evidence leaves researchers puzzled as to the pre-Columbus builders. The scholars have narrowed it down to a native American culture or possibly a European group that crossed the Atlantic. Neither theory has proven conclusive. Either way America’s Stonehenge remains as ever, a mystery.

To visit America’s Stonehenge, call (603) 893-8300 or write PO box 84, North Salem, NH 03079 for directions and visiting hours.