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.

The calendrical 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 random.

 Other Photos of Nearby Related Stoneworks


Monday, February 28, 2005

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 the ancients...

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 other Europeans.

... Irish monks? Here's <> a photo of the observatory entrance.

... Did irish monks build this new england chamber circa 700 ad? <>


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."

(Mavor, 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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