Phil Imbrogno, favored guest on almost all the paranormal podcasts I listen to, leads the way as a primary source in this video preview of a television series called Searching for Lost America. The seven minute clip encapsulates a lot of what’s been bandied about in the topic of New England’s stone chambers. It also brings up some details I hadn’t heard before, such as the similarity in construction techniques to Celtic structures in the BCE timeframe. That’s not proof, of course. It just means whoever built those particular chambers learned up a useful, time-honored technique somewhere.
I’ve heard Phil talk about the stone chambers of New York’s Hudson Valley before, sometimes in conjunction with UFO sightings and sometimes as sources of oddness on their own. He’s an excellent weaver and teller of stories, but I’m going to stick with Giovanna Neudorfer on this one, at least as far as the real world goes. On the role-playing side, this television series sounds like a great source for all kinds of crazy stuff to cram into a game about the lost history of North America. I’ll track the episode down, if only to flesh out my own ideas of fictional uses for the stone chambers.
I haven’t found any hard information on what channel or when this series airs, but when I do, I’ll pass it on.
After I posted The Stone Chamber some time back, a friend of mine who’s a real life archaeologist loaned me a copy of Vermont’s stone chambers: an inquiry into their past, by Giovanna Neudorfer. This is a scholarly work from 1980 that did practical research and field work on some of the stone chambers still existing around Vermont. It was a quick read, but also dense, given the amount of information Neudorfer collected in her study.
Unsurprisingly, her research pointed to practical, historical origins for the chambers, typically after the arrival of Europeans in the area. Used for storage, distilling and other conventional purposes, the stone chambers are part of the historical record, not artifacts from a bygone, unrecorded civilization.
In role-playing games, we make up the things we do because it’s fun to make believe, quite frankly. Role-playing is a highly escapist pastime. I think it’s a fair estimation that most participants in the hobby do so to vicariously live out the thrill of smiting foes, exploring strange worlds and otherwise getting out of their real lives for a few hours in a positive, socially-centered way.
The distinction is it’s made up and we know it. The willful invention of pseudo-history in the fact of contradictory facts — which is distinct from those topics when there is a genuine lack of knowledge about a historical event or era — is a significantly different and problematic issue.
The round hills of Vermont roll across the landscape. Their raiment changes with the season: summer green, autumn red, winter white and springtime drab, but the hills themselves are as constant as anything seems to one possessed of a human lifespan. They are as close-mouthed and inscrutable as their inhabitants, not prone to sharing their secrets with just anyone who happens by.
But dotted here and there in the hills are oddities, stone chambers built into hillsides and hidden from casual view by foliage. Typically rectangular, they are lined with flat blocks of limestone or shale, the chambers give no indication of their function. Tradition holds these chambers were here when the first Europeans arrived, but they hardly fit with what is known about native Abenaki practices. In fact, surviving Abenaki oral traditions are conspicuously silent on the topic of the stone chambers.
Modern scholars maintain the chambers are surviving traces of long gone, unrecorded dwellings, probably storage rooms meant for keeping goods cool. Any instances of a chamber doorway aligning with sunrise or sunset on an astronomically significant date like a solstice or equinox is pure coincidence or wishful thinking on the part of the observer.
Shows what they know.
The Door to Otheryear
A realityquake is a quantum event. The raw stuff of space and time rips asunder. One section of reality drops below another as one tectonic plate subducts below another in an earthquake. And, as may happen, elements of that submerged strata may find their way to the top of the covering layer, incongruously out of place.