The Natives

Long before the first European and African settlers began arriving in this area about 300 years ago, this land was home to the Saponi and Occaneechi people.

The points of their weapons are easily recognizable.


I’m not so sure about their other tools. I found these in a field near our house. The stones are not typical for here and are very heavy.  If any reader is enough of a rock expert to tell me what these are, please share. Of course, I’m interested in any thoughts on what these were used for as well.







I wonder what the purpose of this obelisk was.


I like finding reminders of their time here. It pleases me to know that this place has been sustaining human populations for a long time.


28 comments on “The Natives

  1. DM says:

    very cool. I am also interested. Our area was also once populated with various woodland tribes. My dad remembers finding flint arrow heads after the rain on the plowed ground but that was in the 1940’s and 50’s.


    • Bill says:

      I still find them around here every now and then. I found a pretty one in one of our gardens last year. I found all those other rocks/tools in a single garden near our house over the last year.


  2. valbjerke says:

    That’s really interesting – there are many area in this province where you can find similar signs of history. If you find time to do any research on the life of those tribes – you might be able to decipher the purpose of those stones. I suspect some may have been used for preparing hides for tanning, some possibly for food prep (grinding grain?). Would be cool to find out.


    • Bill says:

      My uneducated guesses were that the first one was used for sharpening, the next one (I see that the photos came out blurry) for grinding, the round ones for throwing at game (or each other) and the large flat ones as tables. But I have no idea really. The stones are very heavy and I’ve never seen any other rocks like that on this farm.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. BeeHappee says:

    That’s interesting, Bill. That first one could have almost been used as a mortar or for some type of grinding, can’t tell from the picture how wide it is. . Very neat, keep digging. 🙂 The flat one with markings maybe as a chopping board or some kind. Just ignorant guesses. . I love that stuff. My kids keep digging around the house in the spring and summer in hopes of finding some treasure. So far, discovered only a couple old pennies and rusted nails. 🙂


  4. Bill, it is interesting to find evidence of past activity on land that you own. Some years ago, I removed a falling down stone wall in the front of my house and replaced it with a nice retaining wall and built the poor man’s living patio in front of the wall. During the process of working on the wall and patio, I began to think about who had built the wall 50 years ago. What were they like, how many were there, etc. My neighborhood is filled with those same rock walls that are slowly migrating to the new retaining wall blocks made of concrete. After hashing over those thoughts, I turned my thoughts to what folks would think 100 years from now (if the world survives that long) about my wall and patio that I built. Would it even still be there or would it have been replaced with something else. Then my thoughts were to bury a time capsule with pictures and stories about how it was built behind the wall. It would be an easy task using PVC pipe and sealing it up to be opened only by curious workers that found the capsule who knows when.

    We (land owners) only take care of the land for a short time, then it’s passed on to the next caretaker. It would be great to find something that told a bit of the history of the land and buildings, don’t you think?

    Some day I won’t be around any longer. At Terra Nova Gardens, I trying to build things that will be a reminder of the old coot that decided to build a garden on a derelict vacant piece of worthless property. Not that I really want a monument to remind them of me but a reminder to them that food can be grown and harvested even among a plethora of wild life and other things to contend with. It’s about the growing, tending, and harvesting. Not about me.

    Have a great artifact finding day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bill says:

      Yes, I totally agree. When we were pulling down the plaster walls of our old farm house to replace them with sheetrock (a pity, I know–long story), I was hoping to find some clues behind the plaster. I’ve heard of people finding newspapers, or names and dates written on the boards. But alas, we found nothing. It would have been so easy for the builder to leave something, but I’m sure it just didn’t occur to them. I hope you left your time capsule. I’m inspired to think about that myself.


  5. shoreacres says:

    It looks to me like you have a couple of scrapers there — particularly the fifth photo. The box at the top might have a small awl in it, too. They were used to split fibers as well as to punch holes.

    Interesting, to say the least. An area of a park near to me just was put off limits because they found a midden there. There’s a lot of evidence around of those early societies. Interpreting it is something else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Scraper makes good sense. I hadn’t thought of that but of course it would be an essential tool to have. Some of these may just be plain old rocks, but I’ve never found another rock like them on our farm. They’re very heavy. Too bad they can’t tell their stories (or too bad I can’t interpret the stories they’re telling).


  6. C.C. says:

    Type of rock – in the top box, I see some quartzite- especially the big arrowhead – and perhaps some limestone. The big flat (sharpening?) stone with the lines on it appears to have iron in it…


    • Bill says:

      Thanks. I wondered about iron, or even lead. The stones are much heavier than comparably sized stones.

      The white arrowheads are what we call white flint, even though it’s actually a type of quartz. There’s so much of it laying around here that some ancestor of mine named the farm after it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You’ll probably never know for a lot of these. My degree in anthropology is from 30 years ago and it only included one year of archaeology, which focussed naturally enough on artifacts and bones from my local area, so I’m really shooting in the dark here. The stones could be anything or nothing. People travelling or settling in your area more recently than the indigenous peoples could also have brought these rocks – settlers, soldiers, perhaps even slaves. You need to cultivate acquaintanceship with someone in the archaeology dept of your local university if you really want answers.

    That said, my guesses: Rocks usually travelled for three reasons – weapons, cooking and ballast. Ballast is out – not a lot of boats where you are, right? So weapons and cooking. Weapons were not usually made in situ – suitable rock was brought “home” or with the group as they travelled to the next place. Not knowing my geology as I should, I don’t know if any of the rocks pictured would be suitable for the striking and flaking that typically went into weapon making. Also consider that rocks were not necessarily altered to be weapons – sometimes they were just used as blunt projectiles. Cooking – pounding, grinding, cutting and scraping. At least two of your stones have possibilities for this, as mentioned above in a couple of comments. Also, stones were sometimes used like slow cookers in reverse – a hot stone from the fire could be put in the pot/food receptacle to keep the food cooking/hot without fire. I have no doubt cooks would have favourite stones for this purpose. White settlers are documented as using rocks like hot water bottles – to warm their feet and the bed on cold nights. Again, a favourite stone, just the right shape and size might travel. It seems a trifle unlikely for people who needed to travel light or who had limited baggage capacity, but if they had wagons, maybe. Round rocks were useful for shaping things – hides that were being made into receptacles, for example. Would they have transported rocks for this purpose? Perhaps.

    The obelisk is interesting. Were your local peoples territorial? Some of my local peoples were fiercely territorial though it was about control of food gathering/hunting resources, not ownership of the land – and the marker of choice would have been wood, if they were going to erect something on a boundary. But different groups might do that differently…. a burial marker? What were the rituals for burials for local people? Again, consider more recent groups of people moving through or settling in this area – for them too a grave marker or boundary marker make sense – but Europeans tended to carve even crude lettering on grave stones, and this looks like it was two obelisks till the front one cracked and fell – an unlikely arrangement for a European to set up for a grave marker. It could have been for a ceremonial purpose of some sort – are there other clues to that? How is it placed geographically? On a hill or rise? That’s a young wood around it, has it always been woodland, or could this have been a more visible site once? Most of these are quite weathered, another clue if we could just read it. The obelisk really isn’t, suggesting that was placed more recently than otherwise.

    The ice ages could have played a part for some of these – I didn’t think your area had much glacial action, but I admit, I never really studied the east very much. Locally, glacial action moved a lot of rubble around with the force of the ice pushing along valleys – could be hundreds or thousands of miles. The crease marks on a couple of your stones could be attributed to that sort of action just as easily as to human activity.

    So many clues to the fascinating story of your place, if you could just read the language.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Thanks for all the interesting feedback! You raise some very interesting points. I hadn’t considered the possibility that these stones could have been brought by the Europeans and Africans who moved here, but of course they could have. When I was growing up we kids would sometimes find old graveyards in the woods, with markers that were just unpolished, unmarked stones. We called them Indian graveyards, or slave graveyards. Then one day we discovered one in which a few of the many stones were polished and engraved. Turns out the people buried there were neither Indians or slaves (at least not exclusively). Folks just didn’t commonly have fancy headstones then. Maybe I’m making the same mistake here, by jumping to the conclusion that these tools belonged to native people. As you say, likely I’ll never know.

      The obelisk intrigues me. I found it when hiking. It’s on a part of the farm that was once tended in fields but hadn’t been for at least 50 years and probably longer. My first thought was that it was a grave marker, but there were no others around (as there always are in my experience) nor was the traditional ground cover they planted in cemeteries (whose name escapes me now) growing there. Again I concluded that it must be some kind of Indian monument, but I suppose it could just as well have been put up there by white or black people. Years ago I sent a photo of it to a friend who is a Pre-Columbian art historian. He sent it along to a colleague who is an anthropologist with a specialty in Native Americans. He concluded that it might be native, but might just as well be natural. Having seen it, I find it highly unlikely that it was natural.

      There’s no obvious evidence of glacial activity here–at least none that my untrained eye can spot, but there is plenty nearby. A friend’s farm a few miles from here has quite a few very large boulders on it that were probably rolled there by glaciers for example.

      It’s all fascinating. I wonder if people a thousand years from now will be looking at evidence of our time here and trying to figure out what it is.


  8. bobraxton says:

    The mother of my paternal grandfather (Robert Pearl Braxton 1887 – 1978) was Martha Jackson Buckner (1862 – 1912) and her mother “Mary Crayton” is supposed to be native American, perhaps (but I do not know) of The Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation – OBSN –
    in Snow Camp, NC (South Fork Friends meeting) she (the dauthter Martha) was the wife of John Wesley Braxton 1854 – 1920 (who died when my own father Cornelius E. Braxton was four years of age).


  9. associatedluke says:

    I LOVE THIS. Tangible reminds for those who have come before. And reminds me of your pear-post.

    I once heard someone say, “The present is what the past is doing now. The future is what the past will be doing then.”

    This post recalled that phrase for some reason. So I share it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. EllaDee says:

    Fascinating. I love that people were traveling & living there, and pieces of their lives & heritage remain as markers. The obelisk is intriguing. It would seem for whatever reason that particular location was special enough to go to the effort to signify it, in a rather striking manner.


    • Bill says:

      The people who are my people wandered into this place, rubbing up against and eventually displacing the people who had themselves wandered here centuries earlier. Our eventual communal extinction seems likely too. Perhaps some future resident will find a fragment of this laptop in a field where our house once stood, and wonder what strange relic it might be.

      The obelisk is really puzzling. It isn’t at the top of a hill, it’s not on a property line or in a place that might have been a logical place for a cornerstone. It would have been a lot of work to set that thing up. I suppose it’s possible that nature put it there, but I’ve never seen anything else like it around here.


  11. Wow! Those are all great. Very neat finds.


  12. avwalters says:

    What cool artifacts to keep your winter warm with the wondering of it all. I think a little rock science would help, to know what is native to your area–and thus to see if these items were local or imports.

    I do hope when we get to gardening we’ll find bits of history. When we first purchased it (several decades ago) we found remnants of an old still (or maybe not so old.) Later, we returned with a camera, but the most telling parts of it (copper coils) had disappeared in the interim–and the rest kicked down a steep slope. So far, nothing indigenous, just the still and old criss-crossing with ancient barbed wire.


    • Bill says:

      I wish I knew more about rocks. I’ve got a field guide somewhere that might help me. I should probably search it out.

      I know what you mean about the ancient barbed wire. I’ve dragged plenty of it out of the woods and there’s still plenty of it out there.

      That’s too bad about the still. That would’ve been a nice find to hold onto.

      I’m sure you’ll eventually find plenty of curiosities.


  13. Martha Caldwell-Young says:

    I shared your post with a friend who knows about rocks and such. Here’s what he had to say. I hope you find this helpful. 🙂

    “His points or arrow heads appear to be a mix of Archaic to woodland out of various materials, quartzite, chalcedony, and maybe rhyolite. The rocks are something I see a lot. The polite term is “geofact” . Heres what I say or COA people who know its an artifact because they ” Believe” When one looks for artifactual usage look for signs of manufacturing IE pecking and grinding, bif acial reduction in concoidal fracturing materials and or use where from abrasion, surface contact or repetitive motion use. These objects exhibit little or none of those. While possibly erratics from glacial or water transport if found in an archealogical context MAY have been transported by ancient humans. Pictures may include hammer stones from lithic reduction use, and possibly a “nutting stone” a misnomer as were actual used as bases in banner stone powered shaft sanding operation. ( Berg 2000) The unpolite terms are. POS stone ie piece of…. leevitrites as in leave it right there. And indian love stone, Just a F………. rock! In my collection evaluations I always try to be polite with first response, but many in the field are so exhausted of trying to break through the mindset that because they believe it must be true they tend to the less polite. He obviously is ona continuos occupation site and it MAY be significant but every odd rock found there is NOT an artifact.”


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