Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Eagle Days

You can click on the image to enlarge it enough to read.

While we were at Smithville Lake on Saturday, we revisited a site I first wrote about close to 25 years ago, the reconstruction of a woodhenge near its original location.  That place was drowned when the dam was built in 1979, and although they had the original post molds to go by--for a square, cornerless henge constructed of cedar--the reconstruction was a cornered square made of fence posts that have nearly rotted away.  The site has been vandalized repeatedly.

My short article was in Science Digest magazine, and I wish I'd kept a copy of it; I was given access to photos of the original excavation as well as the marks in the earth that indicated where the posts stood, and their placement.

This is probably a Woodland site, if I remember correctly; there's precious little real information out there, at least on the web.

The bony bits in the circle were probably remains of an eagle's meal; I found the bleached bones in the center of the crumbling henge.  They appear to be fish bones, the eagle's favored food, though they also capture waterfowl and the occasional small mammal.  (They do NOT carry away children, as some believe.  An eagle weighs approximately 14 pounds at the outside; they try for prey lighter than that.)

Henges--like Stonehenge and like the wood henge at Cahokia, Illinois--are fascinating bits of our prehistory.  They appear to be observatories of a sort, oriented to the solstices, but no one knows quite how they worked, or what exactly they were used for.  They hoard their secrets, their mystery, and yes, a bit of their magic. On that cold and windy day, the air inside the henge felt almost balmy.  I sat on a log and sketched this in comfort while eagles and gulls wheeled overhead.

When we visited, there were signs saying it would be undergoing reconstruction; I'm anxious to see if will be closer to the original.

If you're at all interested in the original woodhenge near the reconstruction site, much more here...



  1. Intriguing and so formidable. I have seen them in the wild and find eagles fascination. Such a great journal spread. Thanks for sharing!


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