Important Native American archaeological site found in Virginia (UPDATE: 2011)

A couple with Native American heritage find what looks to be a Paleo-Indian ceremonial site in Virginia.

Stone circles found on Virginia property.

Concentric stone circles near rocks weighing more than a ton — apparently aligned to mark solar events — are believed to be part of a Paleo-Indian site in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Clarke County that an expert has dated to about 10,000 B.C.

The complex along Spout Run has 15 above-ground stone features. Though still under study, it could be one of the oldest man-made structures in North America still in existence and twice as old as England’s Stonehenge.

The story gets a little “mystical” in that Chris and Rene White, who own the property and made the initial discovery, “credit their Native American heritage for the finding“. Chris says he is of Cherokee descent. While walking his land, he felt that something was unique about a certain area. The article notes that he wanted to create a stone medicine where there. The medicine wheel is a monument made of a stone pattern in a display of sacred architecture. The spokes of the wheel point to other special places. But the area across the stream already had several concentric stone circles. The Whites then consulted an archaeologist to investigate. The small archaeological survey even revealed some artifacts, along with the orientation of the stone circle in alignment with astronomical events, suggests this was a spot where ceremonies were held. A sample of an artifact was sent to be dated which revealed the ancient age.

Sounds like a fantastic spot. But none of this has been confirmed and a large-scale survey has not been undertaken. There is no word mentioned about what will happen next. Will a university obtain permission to examine the site? Will the results be documented and published?

If any of our archaeologically inclined commentators would please supply any additional opinions, we’d be much appreciative.

Addition: Turns out this is not a new story. It was out in 2011. It sounds like White has big ideas for the site:

Not long after White finished building his house he shifted his attention to longer term thoughts about whether his land could play a role as a Native American Church.  For years, White said, he had dreamed of creating a retreat center where all types of people could come to meet and discuss issues that concern Native Americans. To complement his Oklevueha Native American Church of Virginia, White decided to establish the Sanctuary on the Trail, a faith-based neighborhood and community outreach-initiative where spiritual leaders across denominations could meet to create possibilities for communities, churches, and tribes on challenges and issues facing them in a modern world.

They were looking for people to help preserve the site at that time. Where are the official reports then? Why hasn’t this been studied and published? So, for now we must take the claims of Hranicky with skepticism. They have not yet been soundly confirmed to be what he has said they are.

  15 comments for “Important Native American archaeological site found in Virginia (UPDATE: 2011)

  1. Bob Blaskiewicz
    May 12, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    “Something told him the site was special?” You mean, like the big damn collection of rocks arranged above ground in a circle. Only someone in tune with nature, you know, like a Native American, could tell the place was special. That doesn’t even rise to the level of dowsing.

    Cool find though.

  2. Paul Robinson
    May 12, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    Try this one for size – from the Megalithic Portal site. Findings presented 22 Oct 2011 Annual Meeting of the West Virginia Archaeological Society. Controversial theories about it having astronomical alignments. Seems a very raw rough site, from photos, & little proper archaeology or research seems to have been done on site. On website called Sprout Run (sprouts gave me the runs), & full coordinates given, along with map, & photos.

  3. ApexDisorder
    May 12, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    Hey Paul, what’s your take on the object that came through the guys window, aforementioned in previous article.
    I was looking for you to comment on that one.

  4. B.
    May 12, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    I was surprised when I clicked on this, because I grew up 8 miles from Bears Den and personally knew the Whites. Nice people. Bears Den is a gorgeous place with fascinating rocks and rock formations, so I used to go up there somewhat frequently.

    Somewhere around 8 years ago when I was there, a man was giving a lecture to a group of people about the history of the place. Apparently he volunteered these talks regularly. He started off by talking about how paleolithic people around 10,000 years ago would have traveled to the top of the mountains at certain times of the year, etc., it all seemed pretty intellectual. Then he said that they left traces of their existence there, and I was intrigued. Then he started pointing out how the rocks had patterns (I don’t know the geological term or cause for it, but Bears Den is a big random tumble of rocks on a ridge), and how certain rocks looked like certain animals. Mostly whales. I was wondering where he was going with this, but it was fascinating to see the rocks differently (like seeing a cloud as something like a face or a rabbit). There was no evidence of human manipulation though, just the fact that rocks looked like certain things or laying a certain way or in a particular location. The rocks are huge, so he talked about how it was a mystery how people were able to put them in place.

    And somehow it all had to do with the paleolithic people’s ancestral memories of whales.

    At a certain point I realized the whole thing was nuts. I guess it was when he started saying that perhaps it wasn’t the paleolithic people themselves who had “created” the patterns in the landscape, but whales themselves – I don’t remember the exact points, but whales were still creating the landscape from afar (it’s hundreds of miles to the ocean). A piece of evidence for their continued activity was that a long branch had fallen into the “blowhole” of a whale shape, the man had taken it out, and later he’d found another branch had fallen in to take it’s place. He didn’t say why the whales wanted a stick in the blowhole, it seemed enough that a branch had fallen into a crevice a second time that the whale rock was special.

    I’m looking at the pictures of rocks the White’s found supposed to depict bears, and it sounds like the exact same sort of thing. There’s no evidence stated that they were carved – far as I can tell, the evidence is that someone can say they kind of look like bears. I guess.

    I am kind of assuming now that the guy who gave the Bear’s Den lecture was actually Jack Hranicky, the archaeologist the article states they consulted with.

  5. Paul Robinson
    May 12, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    Haven’t a clue ApexDisorder. Looks like part of a wheel hub or brakedrum. Alien mechanics, rummaging through a scrapyard for spare parts, & chucking the unneeded bits around in fit of anger? I try to keep my big gob shut & not comment on everything under the sun, but sometimes i get bored behaving myself – especially when ale sampling.

  6. spookyparadigm
    May 12, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    That is from what I can tell the same site, indeed.

  7. spookyparadigm
    May 12, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    They’re not exactly megalithic, as can be seen in the link posted by Paul below.

    The thing that needs to be remembered with alignments is that it is very easy to find lots of points from which to make an alignment if one isn’t careful. Anthony Aveni has spent much of his career taking archaeoastronomy, which was not well considered in archaeology, and revitalizing it through careful on-site surveying work which is crucial to show one isn’t just seeing things.

  8. spookyparadigm
    May 12, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Not that size necessarily matters here. Note the immense size of the quite important Egyptian site of Nabta Playa, also an alignment site (several thousand years younger). Most pictures of it don’t include a person for scale.

  9. K Friesen
    May 12, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Don’t you realize that whales use sticks just like we use Q-tips – to clean out our orifices (blow-holes for whales, ears for people). In both cases, it is not recommended to stick these objects in these orifices as they can damage things (i.e. ear drums for people, blow-hole drums for whales).

    All joking aside, I am mystified as to how they can date a rock formation, anybody have any ideas? There is a mention of “artifacts found on the surface”, but how any artifact that could be carbon dated could have lasted for 10000 years lying on the surface is a bit of a surprise – although it may have been buried for a long time and only recently been exposed, although one would think that amount of deposition and erosion would have had effects on blow hole sticks and the likes

    – oh, sorry, I forgot, the whales keep replacing the blow hole sticks. They are probably replacing the artifacts as well. Any idea if they are going to get the whales to sing at their new church?

  10. K Friesen
    May 12, 2014 at 4:58 PM

    Don’t you realize that whales use sticks just like we use Q-tips – to clean out our orifices (blow-holes for whales, ears for people). In both cases, it is not recommended to stick these objects in these orifices as they can damage things (i.e. ear drums for people, blow-hole drums for whales).

    All joking aside, I am mystified as to how they can date a rock formation, anybody have any ideas? They found a piece of burnt jasper, dated it, and that signifies when the stones formed the formation they were found in? Of course you can’t date when stones were moved, so this piece of burnt jasper (burnt by what? Probably by a natural wildfire. Could also be done by people, but that has nothing to do with whether that was when the rocks were moved. If you dig down far enough you will almost always find something you can date, and the deeper you dig, the older it will be). I would be interested to see the “scraper”, is it really man made, or just another rock that is shaped like something you could scrape with.

    There is so much bogus archaeology. I am surprised that these are not Solutreans, although if a white person had found them they probably would have been.

  11. B.
    May 12, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    I had assumed the guy was just a crackpot and not an archaeologist, because the ideas he had were so bizarre. Now I find out he’s an actual archaeologist. And a crackpot.

    What’s the lesson from this? Sometimes educated people support or propose crackpot ideas related to their field of expertise.

    What bothers me is that because someone IS an expert in a certain field (while also being a crackpot), people take their ideas seriously.

  12. L.Barth
    May 13, 2014 at 7:48 AM

    Kind of like Dr. Oz?

  13. busterggi
    May 13, 2014 at 8:26 AM

    Giants are real!

  14. Andrew
    May 13, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    My mother was an archaeologist so I grew up with her stories and some exposure to the subject. She told me about how they had some fun with the head of a dig by ‘finding’ some objects at the dig that shouldn’t have been there. Like ‘look, I found this carved stone head in the hole over there’. My point is there are ways to disturb a site so that it’s very hard to tell what’s old and legit vs put there recently, especially with inorganic stuff like rocks. The cynic in me says that this guy bought the land and then arranged the rocks himself, then waited for a little overgrowth before ‘discovering’ them, so he could build his church on the site. I may be a little overly cynical though.

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