One of New Hampshire’s long-time treasures is America’s Stonehenge, an archeological site in North Salem. Opened under the name Mystery Hill Caves in 1958, the site received its current name in the 1980s to distinguish it from more geological sites. Whatever you call it, it’s a New Hampshire classic.
Before you ascend the half mile of trail up to the site on Mystery Hill, you can visit with the family of alpacas who live just behind the visitors’ center and gift shop. Also at the bottom of the hill is a gemstone dig, where kids can practice their archeological skills and find some treasure at the same time.
Up at the site is a collection of low-slung stone buildings, some of which are the leftovers of a colonial farm, but many of which have uncertain origins. In total, 16 carbon dating tests have been conducted at the site – the oldest is taken from a charcoal sample and is over 4000 years old. Many of the structures were built using dry stone construction, a hallmark of lithic cultures, and artifacts including hammer stones and arrowheads have been found strewn across the site. It’s these sorts of results that lead America’s Stonehenge President Denis Stone to believe the site has a history dating far past the colonial era.
Speculations about the site’s origins have led to it being the subject of various shows examining the unknown or supernatural. H.P. Lovecraft visited the site long before it was opened to the public, and in later years both Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner hosted shows that explored the site’s history. Most recently, the History channel has aired several programs looking at the archeology and possible connections to ancient cultures, keeping the questions about America’s Stonehenge alive in popular culture.
There are also plenty of other reasons to visit the site, especially for those looking for a more spiritual experience. America’s Stonehenge regularly holds events in conjunction with astrological events, such as the Summer Solstice or the upcoming Cross Quarter day on August 1st. The forest around the site affords plenty of opportunity to reconnect with nature and you can see the cleared paths of astrological alignments. And you can take a short hike along the trails found all over the property and that transform into snowshoe trails during the winter.
For more information, you can visit America’s Stonehenge’s website and find a time to go up and explore for yourself.
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