"In ancient times...
Hundreds of years before the dawn of history
Lived a strange race of people... the Druids
No one knows who they were or what they were doing
But their legacy remains
Hewn into the living rock... Of Stonehenge"
When I say Mystery Hill, what comes to mind? Is it Stonehenge? Well, if not, it should. Because in 1982, Mystery Hill was renamed American Stonehenge.
American Stonehenge isn't like Englands Stonehenge. (ok...by now you all know I'm lazy, so American Stonehenge will now become AS, and Englands Stonehenge will be ES. Got it? Good.)
While we all know what ES looks like, a bunch of large rocks arranged in circular formations, some with cap stones, not many even know about AS. And while AS isn't as old as ES, it's magical and fantastical in it's own right.
In 1937, William Goodwin purchased some land outside of Salem New Hampshire that he dubbed 'Mystery Hill'. He called it that because of some strange structures on the land.
The structures are spread out over a 30 acre area, and consist of large rocks and stone buildings. Some are dug into the ground and have trenches running between them. Some buildings are covered and some aren't.
The land that makes up Mystery Hill was occupied by settlers as early as 1830 when a man named Jonathan Pattee built a house on the location. He used some of the formations as a foundation for his house. Not much was made of the structures at the time as settlers had a habit of just trying to survive.
In 1907, 'A History of Salem' mentions the location and it's structures, which it refers to as caves. It mentions that the original owner, Mr. Pattee, used the caves for storage.
Fast forward to 1937 and William Goodwin. Goodwin was convinced that the location was once inhabited by the Culdees, (a group of Irish Monks), long before Columbus discovered the Bahamas.
He tried to get archeologists out to study the site, but other things kept the scientists busy. it wasn't until 1967 that the first professional excavations took place. And, they discovered something.
What they discovered was, charcoal that was carbon dated to 400 years old. But the man doing the research also found the charcoal in Mr. Pattees old drain, and determined his dating was invalid due to contamination from the drain.
In 1969, more excavations took place. And this time, the finds were more promising.
This time they found more charcoal that was associated with broken stone spalls, a rock hammer, scrapper, and pick. This charcoal was dated to 2,995 years old. (+/- 180 years) And another location was found to contain charcoal that was 2,120 years old. (+/- 95 years).
In 1995, more excavations were done and a fire pit dating back 3,470 years, (+/- 30 years), was found.
Other finds from the site include a sacrificial stone and marks on the walls that an expert says appear to be Phoenician and Iberian.
So, it is entirely possible that some pre-colombian adventurers made their way across the Atlantic Ocean and settled into the wilderness around Salem.
There are a lot of people, including sciency people, who feel the structures were actually built in the 19th century by land owners for their own use. And that William Goodwin himself modified some of them to fit his story.
They further accuse the early finds to be pseudo-archeology and the later excavations to be the vicim of early 20th century hoaxes.
And that sacrificial stone I mentioned? A lot of experts say it is actually a Lye Stone. That is, a stone that was used to extract lye from wood ashes so they could make soap.
And the fact that ancient evidence of fires was found is dismissed by the fact that Native Americans lived in the area at the time the fires were dated to.
So. Is it an ancient site where European Druids sought refuge? No, probably not.
Is it the location of pre-colombian settlers from Europe? I kind of doubt it.
Was it a location used by indigenous peoples? Most assuredly.
Did William Goodwin try to hoodwink the public? Only he knows for sure. And seeing how he's dead, I don't think he's going to say.
But, it makes for a good story, eh?