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No. 57: May-Jun 1988

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Who built these chambers?

New England's many stone chambers have long piqued the curiosities of archeologists and laymen alike. The archeologists are adamant that all of these structures were constructed by Colonial farmers. However, some of these chambers seem unlikely potato cellars! J. Egan has provided architectural details on 14 impressive stone chambers located in southern New England. Of these, two seem hardly the work of practical farmers.

The first is the Pearson Chamber, at Upton, Massachusetts. It is 10 feet high and 11 feet wide inside -- pretty large for vegetable storage. The second is the Hunt's Brook "souterrain," Montville, Connecticut. It is 38 feet long and only about 3 feet high for most of its length, and ends in a 5-feet-high chamber. We cannot visualize farmers crawling this distance for potatoes! In fact, this structure does resemble the megalithic "souterrains" of Europe.

(Egan, Jim; NEARA Journal, 22:6, Summer/Fall 1987. NEARA = New England Antiquities Research Association.)

Hunt's Brook 'souterrain' Plan view of Hunt's Brook "souterrain", almost 38 feet long. The dotted lines represent capstones. Adapted from the NEARA Journal.

From Science Frontiers #57, MAY-JUN 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss