Location: 105 Haverhill Rd Salem, NH Map
Area: 30 acres
Tel. 1 (603) 893-8300
Open: 9am- 5pm daily (last admission 4pm)
America's Stonehenge is located near Salem in a state of New Hampshire. It is arguable the most mysterious places in USA that is still in the middle of the debates on the age of the construction and its origin. America's Stonehenge came to light in 1930's when local land owner William Goodwin named the structure as a Mystery Hill to the public. Unfortunately the man had no knowledge in scientific archaeology. Once he got convinced that boulders and rock formation are work of the Irish monks known as Céli Dé or Culdees, he started to "reconstruct" their settlement. William Goodwin believed that Europeans settled North America long before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Here they constructed their small communities upon landing where they lived for several years. Since these monks took an oath of celibacy no children were left to inhabit the site so it was abandoned shortly thereafter. Local farmers used local caves and structures for storage and other purposes as early as 18th century, but no methodical study were ever done. So William Goodwin set out on his quest to prove that the Irish constructed this strange settlement from nearby boulders. His workers started to move rocks around and placing them at the location that they thought it belonged to. Needless to say that all this active work made the dating of the site more difficult to date and to study for professional historians and archaeologists alike.
Theories of William Goodwin were not entirely baseless and crazy. In fact we do know now that the Vikings came to North America (known as Vinland to them) and established several small settlements along the coast. It is not entirely impossible that several Christian monastic monks might have followed them on these trans- Atlantic trips. Archaeologists did discover tangible artefacts that proved Europeans discovered the New World long before the historic trip of Columbus in 1492.
This was not the only theory on the origins and purpose of the America's Stonehenge. Some claimed it was work of the Native Americans who used this location, other went as far as claimed that the site actually belonged to the ancient maritime travellers from Phoenicia (Middle East), Carthage (North Africa) and Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal). Belief that it was constructed by the builders from the Old World is based on strange symbols and inscriptions discovered on the site. Some believe they were made by people from the Mediterranean basin in the time of Antiquity. Although it is hard to prove or disprove this theory it is almost certainly a fairly old site. People did live here centuries ago. We don't know whether it was a permanent village or merely a stop base among natural formations. However carbon dating from the fire pits discovered here date this site to 2000 BC to 173 BC. It might suggest that either the site was in fact constructed by the ancient people from various locations and ethnic groups. Or it can prove that Natives first visited this hill and only later did activity of the local farmers changed the appearance of the layout of the boulders. It is hard to tell and in depth study of the site will be able to answer these questions.
Regardless whether you believe in the authenticity or any of the
theories of its origins it is a nice place to visit. The entrance is
free for everyone. Part of recreational park are covered by hiking
trails. Additionally you can find a farm of South American alpacas
Sacrificial Stone that you see below on the right is believed by many to be a site for sacrifices of animals, humans or both. A large groove around this carved stone table is believed to be for collection of blood of sacrificed animals. Another explanation for this is that farmers from the 18th and 19th century either used it to kill their live stock or simply make soap.