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Heath, Massachusetts

Burnt Hill Stone Circle

A mysterious collection of stones stand outside a small New England town. 

Way off the beaten track, outside the small town of Heath in Franklin County, Massachusetts is a hill. On top of that hill sits an extensive blueberry field and a crumbling, mysterious arrangement of stones.

No one knows for certain where the stones on top of Burnt Hill came from. There are 21 of them, some weighing as much as 500 pounds, all jammed into the northern side of the mound’s bedrock. Researchers first hypothesized that the rocks were erected by a 19th-century farmer as property markers, but it appears that they are many hundreds of years older. The hill may have been used as an early observatory, as the stones appear to point to the surrounding mountains in a manner that could conceivably align with sunrise, sunset, and other planetary motions. They may have been mounted by Native American tribes, but even that remains uncertain.

A favorite (unconfirmed) local legend about the stones is that H.P. Lovecraft drew inspiration from them in modelling the Sentinel Hill of his famous story “The Dunwich Horror.” The opening chapter of the tale includes a reference to “great rings of rough-hewn stone columns on the hilltops […] more generally attributed to the Indians than to the settlers.” 

Whether or not Lovecraft wandered among the blueberry fields atop Burnt Hill, one detail is indisputable. That is, of course, that Burnt Hill is sure to spark the imagination.

 

 

Know Before You Go

This location is close to The Benson Place, a wild blueberry farm in Heath. Go to http://www.bensonplace.org/ for directions. The circle is on property that is clearly marked no trespassing and the the owner is strict about NOT wanting people on his land to see the stones. You can see them from the road, though. As you go up the dirt road keep your eyes right and the forest opens up near the crest of the mountain you will see a cleared area with the standing stones visible. Then go buy some blueberries from the farm at the end of the road.