Exploring the Megaliths of Magnetic Rock – Guidepost for Ancient Man?
Near Copper Harbor, Michigan, USA, at the northern tip of the Keewenaw Peninsula, a large and long protrusion of rock emerges far up the hillside in deep forest. Many petroglyphs cover this rock. It sits on the ancient shoreline of Lake Duluth. One figure is a large boat rigged with a square sail. Most viewers who trek that far into the forest proclaim it a Viking boat. Other carvings on this stone called 'Picture Rock' have recently been defaced as the location becomes well known and the public gains greater access.
A dolmen, a large cap stone supported by three shim stones holding it aloft, is located on the Kelso River out of Sawbill Landing, Minnesota, within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) in a national forest. Canada considers these to be lithic works created by the Neolithic cultures long before recorded history. Many others have been found on this continent and around the world, suggesting they are guideposts for ancient man.
In ancient times, water levels were higher from melting glaciers. The surface of the earth was still pressed down from the Ice Ages and had not begun rebounding with the removal of all that ice. If ancient boats did traverse the Laurentian Divide (a raised area across North America dividing the direction of water flow) between the watersheds, this spot is a likely possibility. Several times I have trekked to Magnetic Rock on the border trail (prominent on the north side atop the Laurentian Divide) between Magnetic Lake and the Gunflint Trail. It was only after the Ham Lake forest fire in 2007 that the rock 'reappeared'.
In an article by Wakefield and de Jong on megaliths in the Orkney Islands of Scotland, a standing menhir closely resembles the rock in Minnesota. Dr. de Jong's interpretation was sailing data is encrypted in the Orkney stone, explaining the unique shape and lines of the stone on our northern border. The stone I was sitting on in photo below is possibly a shim placed to hold the stone erect. The rock was raised, by persons unknown, to mark a water passage through the Laurentian Divide. At that date, higher water levels would have created a channel. The menhir sits on the highest elevation, according to USGS maps. The swampy valley below is the headwaters of the Cross River.
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Author rests upon may have been a shim placed to hold the standing stone erect.
If this area was used by man in the distant past, supporting evidence was crucial. Further exploration produced indications of the presence of prehistoric man.
Magnetic Lake, Superior National Forest, Minnesota, and surrounds.
Magnetic Rock is the same high iron content igneous rock that makes up the Laurentian Divide. A waterhole near the Gunflint Trail attracted our attention due to the right angles and cut rocks surrounding it. Sitting next to the watercourse was a stone cube. Two other cubes were subsequently located, the smallest on the heights east of the river.
Cubed rocks were located in the area.
The rock did fracture at right angles. The lower right image might have been a demonstration of an ancient mining technique, wherein intense fire is doused with water to fracture the rock. Today First Nation, or Native American peoples pour boiling water, during winter, into cracks in the Souix Quartzite to freeze and break apart the rocks, to aid mining of Catlinite, a reddish-brown rock in Pipestone, Minnesota.
On the ridge overlooking this area, large boulders were placed exactly on the top edge of the slope and prepared with trigger stones to be rolled down the hill. They dot the cliff line, and one is shown in detail. They are a fixed defense and would require more than one person to function. The purpose for these rocks is not known, but they are obvious in intent and lethal in scale. The border trail heads north from here along the ridge of a cliff that leads to Magnetic Rock .
On the west edge of this cliff, on a short ledge four feet below the summit, was a cache.
It is well designed and skillfully made. The right image shows where the cap stone was taken from the cliff, then moved horizontally along the ledge through human effort. While the chamber is empty today, detritus has accumulated on the ledge, awaiting qualified investigation.
Across flowing water to the east, on a ledge below steep cliffs, sits a large boulder calling attention to itself by shape and position in the landscape.
Kerri Jones of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, took a telephoto image.
This rock, upon closer examination by Diane Bruns, showed chisel marks and shaping. While not a classic dolmen, I believe this qualifies as a piece of Neolithic rock art. The placement, shape, and expression speak too much of the monuments left by man in this time, contemporary with Stonehenge in Britain and the pyramids of Egypt.
An amethyst deposit was removed directly beside the menhir and a “sun sign” remains. The rock is igneous, so this is not a fossil. Kasey Jones, pointing, said this was found close to magnetic rock. Note the sun sign on the Kelso Dolmen, so-named for the Keslo River (below, hand calling attention to the symbol). Since this photo was taken, the standing stone has fractured due to natural forces and a large slab has calved off the side, now covering this important piece of evidence of man's activity. I fear to never set eyes on it in the future.
This photo by TJB Archaeological Associates-Thunder Bay, ON.
Kelso dolmen and Magnetic Rock have been shown over the internet recently on YouTube, gaining awareness. The climb from the Gunflint Trail to Magnetic Rock was improved last year by the Minnesota Conservation Corp. It is important to evaluate and preserve these unique sites for posterity. While the Ham Lake forest fire brought this menhir back out of the forest, the heat of the fire and exposure to elements has taken a toll.
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This unique spot, a transit point between watersheds, may have been used to access the rich copper deposits of Isle Royale and the Keewenaw Peninsula. Four thousand years ago higher water levels and a temperate arctic may have brought conditions allowing this.
A demand for copper clearly existed. Several locations around the prehistoric world were known for stepping up to metallurgy. It is obvious there must have been a copper period before the Bronze Age could exist. A defining aspect of human culture is trade, and the success of many early groups was rated by the distance their resources were distributed, or the cultural practices they followed. Float copper would have been available for easy transportation and man has always practiced war and trade, both being methods for transferring wealth.
Our technology offers new data and insights into cultures invisible to written history. Questioning and studying the aquaculture of Machu Picchu is astounding urban designers today. It is only in the last century we understand what the stone masons were doing building the Greek Parthenon.
There are levels of sophistication we are not aware of at this time. These odd spots in the forest must be protected, and require qualified examination and evaluation with an open mind. New paradigms are arising in understanding the activities of Neolithic man.
Images, unless otherwise stated, copyright Charles Bruns
By: Charles Bruns
Dr. RM de Jonge, and JS Wakefield, 2003. THE RINGS OF STENNESS, BRODGAR & BOOKAN: Celebrating the Discovery of South Greenland (Orkney Islands, Scotland, c.3200 BC) [Online] Available at: http://www.howthesungod.com/articles.html