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Jonathan Pattee Theory

This theory was originally proposed in 1939 by Hugh O’Neill Hencken, a curator with Harvard University’s Peabody Museum. This was in direct response to Goodwin's claims it was a Celtic monastery. Hencken claimed the entire site was built by Jonathan Pattee who resided on the property between 1825-1849. It can be thought of as a sort of the eccentric farmer explanation. The theory was re-stated by archaeologist Gary Vescelius in 1983 after conducting a series of excavations at the site. This theory remains the "official" explanation for the conservative professional archaeological community. The archaeologist community has argued that it is the simplest and therefore the most logical explanation.

Problems & Objections

There is general agreement that Pattee built his house on the existing ruins of the Sunken Courtyard structure. The archaeological evidence supports this fact. Interestingly, the archaeologists have consistently side stepped this particular detail. The archaeologist, Vescelius based his conclusions on a series of excavations in a portion of the site now known to have been Pattee’s trash dump. As one would expect, he found hundreds of 19th century artifacts. (Vescelius’s report has also been criticized for lack of scientific objectivity, questionable excavation and documentation methods, and other academic shortcomings.)

If Pattee had built the site, we would anticipate he would have used iron / steel chisels and drills to quarry the stone. There is actually evidence of these 19th century tools being used at the site during a failed attempt in the 1860’s to remove some of the stone slabs forming the chambers. This attempt failed due the poor quality of the stone and lack of buyers for it. What it does do is prove the availably of these tools. The archaeological evidence indicates that the stones in the chambers and other structures were quarried from the bedrock using stone tools and fire. This is a rather slow and time consuming method.

The site has numerous grooves and basins pecked, abraded, or chipped into the bedrock using stone tools. These techniques are distinctly Native American methods. Many of these grooves are too small to serve any practical utilitarian purpose. Most of the chambers at the site have an associated groove or basin feature. These features are small and easily filled in with debris and lost from sight. It is a level of planning and detail which is not consistent with an “eccentric farmer” building the site.

Finally, there are a number of C-14 dates associated with stone tools, stone structures, and quarrying activity which pre-date the historic period by a millennium or two.

The references for all the articles on this website are consolidated on the Bibliography page.

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