The Upton Chamber
More than 300 stone
chambers have been cataloged in the Northeast, but the Upton chamber is among
the largest. A nearly 20-foot long passageway leads into the circular chamber,
which is 12 feet in diameter and 12 feet high, according to James Mavor, a
Falmouth resident who has researched it.
''It's the most spectacular
stone chamber in New England," said Mavor, a retired oceanographic engineer who
studied it from 1980 to 1985.
orientations of the slab-roofed chambers, it would seem, would rule out these
structures being constructed as root cellars by early American colonists or the
woodlands Indians of the northeast as neither were concerned with alignments
that coincide with the most important of yearly Keltic celebrations. Further,
noted archaeo-astronomer Byron Dix has determined that New England is replete
with underground chambers. He says, ". . . there are some 105 astronomically
aligned chambers in Massachusetts, 51 in New Hampshire, 41 in Vermont, 62 in
Connecticut, 12 in Rhode Island, and 4 in Maine. Suffice it to say, it is
obvious that the alignments found at Mystery Hill, and other sites are not
Other Photos of Nearby
Monday, February 28,
Town seeking protection
for manmade cave
Fearing development might
threaten a local historical treasure, Selectmen from Upton Massachusetts have
approached a local landowner about donating the "Upton Chamber" to the town.
Debate over the origins of
the chamber resolves into two camps: it's a colonial era root cellar; or the
more unlikely, but more interesting theory that the chamber was constructed by
Mavor, however, continues to espouse the
theory that the cave is ancient. He studied it for years, alongside Byron Dix, a
specialist in the astronomy of ancient cultures.
''We discovered that the chamber could have
been an astronomical site, an observatory," Mavor said.
Mavor and Dix, who is now deceased, suggested
that the chamber and two nearby stone cairns, or piles, were created around AD
700 to 750.
According to the ''ancient chamber" theory,
the chamber might have been constructed by Native Americans or by Irish monks or
... Irish monks?
a photo of the observatory entrance.
Did irish monks build this new england chamber circa
700 ad? <http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf103/sf103a02.htm>
Did irish monks build this new england chamber
circa 700 ad?
Curious stone chambers dot the New England
countryside. Are they all potato cellars built by farmers? Most
archeologists insist that they are. But some seem too sophisticated for such a
mundane application. One of these problematic chambers is built into a hillside
at Upton, Massachusetts. J.W. Mavor, Jr., and B.E. Dix carefully measured and
studied this chamber over a period of years. They give three reasons for
asserting that it was really built by Europeans around 700 AD -- long before the
Norse set foot on North America.
The dry masonry chamber at Upton, Massachusetts. (Adapted from ESRS
Bulletin, 1:12, 1973) The
sophisticated corbelling of the structure closely follows that seen in Irish and
Iberic chambers, such as New Grange.
The long passageway is aligned with the summer
solstice sunset, also a feature of some ancient European structures, but hardly
of any concern to a New England farmer.
The Upton chamber seems to be associated with
linear arrays of stones and stone cairns on nearby Pratt Hill. These alignments
have obvious astronomical significance. In fact, based upon changes in the
setting positions of several stars (due to precession), Mavor and Dix believe
the whole complex dates back to 700-750 AD. They conclude:
"Of all the enigmatic structures that we have
seen in America, the Upton chamber stands out as one that could have been built
under the influence of Irish monks in the 8th century."
James W., Jr., and Dix, Byron E.; "Earth, Stones. and Sky: Universality and
Continuity in American Cosmology," NEARA Journal, 29:91, 1995. NEARA =
New England Antiquities Research Association)
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