This time Kian put on her running shoes. If she was going to be chased and shot at, she wanted to be prepared.
When Kian got downstairs, she found Aidan perched on the sofa, his blanket and pillow neatly folded beside him. He was staring at his computer. “We have a translation of the vellum.”
Excited, Kian hoped this would give them some answers. “What’s it say?” She removed his duffle and set it on the floor so she could sit in the dusty old recliner next to the sofa.
“It is a deed of some sort, to this property, I think. If this date is correct, it was drawn up about 1000 BCE.” He turned the laptop screen toward her.
She studied it before replying, “That’s crazy.” She turned his laptop back toward Aidan.
“Maybe not so crazy. Most likely the vellum is a copy of an inscription from a stone buried on the property. That’s the way they did it back then. It lists one Cyrme from Bucknun as the person claiming it.” He looked at Kian. “Mean anything to you?”
“Yes, Mr. FBI. That’s the same name that was on the stone Dad translated. The one about the lost wings.”
Aidan smiled. “So, how did your parents come by this property?”
“Dad inherited it.” Kian absently scratched at the frayed binding on the recliner. “According to the town records, it’s been in his family since the 1600s. Your friend must have translated the date wrong.”
“Very unlikely. When did your ancestors come to this country? Do you know?”
“I guess the 1600s, when the first white settlers arrived. That’s what we learned in history class.”
“Forget what you learned in class—it is all wrong. People have been traveling across the Atlantic and settling here for millennia.”
“Now you sound like my father. He said someday he would explain it all to me.” Kian slumped down into her seat. “That was another ‘someday’ that never came.” She pointed to Aidan’s computer. “So what else do we think we know? Anything?”
“The deed mentions some stone structures. Are there any old chambers on the property?”
“Yes, out back. Some old stone walls, some cairns, a huge stone circle, too.”
“Kian, what do you know about those structures?”
“Nothing really, but Uncle Jacob and I used to go out there when I was little and I would have these dreamlike visions, so we’d make up stories about them. Then we would come back and type them up for my parents.”
“What kinds of things did you see?”
“Aidan, they were just make believe.”
“Tell me anyway.”
“Well these people who built the chambers escaped from somewhere and found this valley so they settled here. I mean I saw these people building the chambers and things. But like I said, it was make believe, stories my dad put in something he called The Book of Knowings.”
Intrigued by what Kian had told him, Aidan got up and went to Red’s library. There he picked up one of the stacks of Red’s notes that he had been sorting, a stack he had tentatively label The Book of Knowings. He handed it to Kian. “See if you can find the story about the chambers.”
“This is a waste of time,” Kian replied as she took the papers into her lap. “How is this going to help us anyway?”
“Just humor me, okay?”
Aidan watched as Kian divided the huge stack into two piles, one with yellow legal paper, the other with computer print-outs. The larger stack, the one with the legal paper, she handed back to Aidan first. “These are the translations Dad did of some old family records.”
From the little time Aidan had been able to spend with these documents, he knew them to be records of births and deaths, good times and bad for the Bucknun ancestors.
Aidan took a minute to glance through them again. Stapled to the top of each page was a photocopy of what he assumed to be the original. Under that was a translation.
Red had been meticulous in his translations, Aidan noted, often referring back to the original with musings on how differing authorities might suggest alternative meanings for the words. Unlike modern languages, archaic languages were more difficult to decipher. There were no common spellings and many words along with their meanings had been lost. But more than that, people thought differently. Trying to force modern words on old ideas could not truly convey the feelings or meanings behind the words. Many times Red had suggested several different translations before finally settling on the one he thought best.
Still, one common element underscored all the translations. The history of what Red translated as an “eron.” A more modern translation would be “ark.” This further convinced Aidan that there was more to Kian’s family than Kian realized.
“That’s just the beginning,” Kian informed him when finally he placed the stack on the coffee table. “The ones he was working on when he left. There are more in filing cabinets upstairs.”
She held up the second stack of papers. “These are my stories.”
Aidan wanted to ask about the rest of this Book of Knowings, but now was not the time. Maybe after this was over. He focused back on Kian’s visions and what that might mean. “Can you find the one about the chambers?”
“Easy.” Kian leafed through and found a printed document with hand-written notes and crayon drawings attached. “That’s it,” she said and handed it to Aidan. “But I am telling you, this is a waste of time.”
Ignoring her comment, Aidan began to read, “‘This is based on what Kian Radha saw in her vision. She described it to me as it happened. After the vision, I asked questions for clarity. The details are exactly as Kian described them to me.'”
Aidan looked up and smiled. “It’s signed by Jacob Steiner. Shall I go on?”
“Since I can’t stop you, go ahead. But I am telling you, it was just a made-up story.” She sat back and crossed her arms over her chest as he began to read again.
There are, indeed, stone cairns, chambers, dolmans, and walls all up and down the Hudson River. Most seem to be located in what is now Putnam County.
The chamber pictured is on Route 301 and can be seen from the road. At both Beltane and Lammas, the sun shines directly into this chamber, perfectly illuminating the back wall. This makes it a calendar that marks Beltane, the time of planting and Lammas, the time of harvest. The picture was taken at sunrise on Lammas, August 1st.
I was interested to find that Burke and Halberg (2005) report seeds left overnight in this chamber (and others) had shown enhanced growth and production rates(pp 61-72) further tying these chambers to the cycle of planting and harvesting.
The question of who actually built these stone structures is open for debate. Many were probably built by the Native Americans. Similar stone chambers are still being built by native people in the north close to glaciers. It would not be a stretch to substitute rock for ice blocks in areas where the climate has warmed making the traditional igloo uninhabitable.
On the other hand, we have no evidence the native people followed the solstices, equinoxes and cross-quarter days (half way between equinox and solstice) as did the people of northern Europe. Additionally we have found Ogham and Punic writing as well as other evidence of European presence in New England and elsewhere in the Americas.
For me it is a “chicken and egg” question. Perhaps there was more contact between northern Europe and North America than we currently believe and each shared equally in the development of stone as a building material, each using stone for their own purposes.
For more information and pictures of the stone structures in New England, including those in the Hudson Valley, see The New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA).
Burke, John & Halberg, Kaj (2005). Seed of Knowledge Stone of Plenty: Understanding the Lost technology of the Ancient Megalith-Builders. San Francisco: Council Oak Books.
Used copies of this book go for $70, but it is now available as an ebook for a more reasonable price.