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Stone cairns marked ritual processions from Soque River to mountaintop shrine

Stone cairns marked ritual processions from Soque River to mountaintop shrine


This past weekend, I found another mountain gap ceremonial site, northeast of the Alec Mountain Stone Circle and northwest of Clarkesville.  This site probably also had ring of stones at one time, but now is a farm and not open to the public.    The clue was Stonepile Road, which now connects Clarkesville, GA with Batesville, GA.  Although Stonepile Road now has several names along its length, it is continuous from the Soque River to Batesville.  Batesville was previously named Soquee and is where Cyrus Thomas, chief Smithsonian Institute archaeologist, identified hundreds of stone ruins in 1886.  As stated by Thomas,  Stonepile Road is lined with dozens of stone cairns in various states of condition. 

The arrangement of the stone cairns is very much like those at Track Rock Gap, but on a much larger scale.  Most of the cairns at Track Rock line an ancient road that climbed from the gap to its acropolis. (See below.)  I suspect that this winter, we will also find the vestiges of agricultural terraces on the slopes of this mountain near Clarkesville.  

What were these cairns used for and who built them?   Those are some of the questions we will be addressing in the Soque River Basin Stone Architecture Study.   I am not certain that we will find the answers, but will at least know where these stone ruins are and what they look like.

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    I recently read an old book titled Rock Art of Kentucky by Fred Coy and Thomas Fuller that had very similar Petroglyphs to track Rock near stone carnes of North Fork rockshelter and another near Tar Springs.

    • Do you know what the names of these petroglyph sites are? I might be able to find photos online.


    I worked doing farm chores on weekend for a man named Ronnie Wiley till he died a few years back. He owned the majority of Skitts Mountain and the towers at the top. 30 feet north west of towers base is a geodetic survey marker , marking the high point of the mountain. 40 feet north west of it is three boulders in a triangle and the one that is on southeast corner has two spirals with a line between them. Also at the base of the mountain is a circular mound that rises about 5 feet


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