A Hike at Gungywamp, Groton, Connecticut
Gungywamp: Ruins? Or What Is It?
Gungywamp is a most unusual Connecticut attraction. It's a collection of strange unexplained stone structures and walls, of which little is known. When you ask the people who are the most knowledgeable about Gungywamp questions, often their answer is "we just don't know".
On September 22, 2012 we took a guided tour of the Gungywamp site. This was my second tour, the previous one being about 10 years ago.
So, come with me, will I take you on a pictorial mini-tour of Gungywamp and tell you what I know.
Path Through Gungywamp
How to take a Gungywamp Tour
Gungywamp is located in Groton, Connecticut.
In the above photo, you see what a typical part of the trail looks like at Gungywamp. Most of it is in the shade. Some of it is on an incline -- and decline. Some of it is rocky and some has a lot of fallen logs left over from two storms this year.
The walk is about 1-1/2 miles. It took about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Be prepared. Our tour guide brought a walking stick, which was a very good idea.
There are no facilities.
- Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center
Gungywamp is on private property. Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center conducts guided tours several times a year. There is a small fee. For information visit their website and click on "Programs & Events"
- The Gungywamp Society
The Gungywamp Society has more information about Gungywamp on their website.
What does Gungywamp mean?
" We just don't know."
Sounds Native American but has no translation.
This is called the "Dugout Site" as members of the Gungywamp Society discovered and uncovered, or "dug it out". It has three sides (two of which are shown).
Perhaps there was a roof over these stones or other log construction. This is believed to be from Colonial times.
Remains of Another Colonial Home—Site 7
Many of the sites are numbered for reference. Site 7 is believed to be what remains of a colonial period home.
(The log across it has no relationship. It is the result of a recent storm).
Cursing Stones—Site 10
Speculations on this is that it could be a native American war memorial.
Or, the native Americans also had a custom of put a stone in place before battle and removing it when the returned from battle.
The other possibility and the reason it is named the cursing stone, is based on a tradition in other parts of the world. When a person is angry at another they take a stone and place it as a curse against the other person . This, instead, of having an altercation with the person.
Row of Standing Stones—Site 8
These were here before the colonial period
This is the South Row and points toward true North.
There are stones similarly arranged in the British Isles.
Although some of the structures are from the colonial period, many of the stone structures were already there in 1654.
The Native American Pequot tribe in the area did not construct stone structures.
What Do You Know About Gungywamp?
Shown in the picture above is a four sided stone fence. Was it some sort of animal pen?
You can see some lose stones all around, which were probably on top of the wall, making the wall higher.
Have you ever visited Gungywamp?
The Tomb—Site 2
Site 2 pre-dates the Colonial Era. It's named "The Tomb", but there is no evidence it was used as a tomb or burial chamber.
This appeared to be just a dirt mound until the 1950s when it was discovered that under the dirt there is a chamber constructed of stone slabs. The entrance was closed (sealed) with another slab, which when removed revealed the inside.
Hunting Blind? Lookout Post?
These pre-date the colonial era settlements in Connecticut. Both of these structures were similarly built. A wall was built up against a large rock.
The one on the left has fallen apart a little; the one on the right is a little more in place.
Someone went to a lot of trouble to lift these heavy stones and build these walls, so what was their purpose?
The Large Chamber—Site 1—Pre-Dates the Colonial EraClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Double Circle of Stones—Site 5—Pre-Dates the Colonial Era
There is speculation on how this circle within a circle was used. But nothing definitive decided.
There has been nothing found that can help date the circle or its use. The charred remains, you see, are from modern day trespassers who have built fires.
An Interesting Object
There were quite a few of these scattered around Gungywamp.
I will give you the answer at the end of the article.
What do you think this is?
Gungywamp and Other Stone Sites on YouTube
Did you check out Skara Brae?
What do you think? Do you see similarities between Skara Brae and Gungywamp?
For in-depth reading on Gungywamp, there is a book, The Greater Gundywamp (Twentieth Anniversary Edition) authored by David P. Barron and Sharon Mason, with a supplement by Vance Tiede—members of the Gungywamp Society.
It is available for checkout at the Groton Public Library under catalog number "974.65 BAR."
Answer to poll question:
It's an oak gall, created when a gall wasp lays its eggs in a developing leaf bud on an oak tree
Questions & Answers
There is a TV show on Gungywamp (the secret of the underground) and they show an engraving on a rock that appears with a heart but it is not discussed on the tv. Is it there? This is important as I know of another site which appears to be very ancient that has this same symbol. Can you find this marking?
I have taken the Gungywamp hike twice with tour guides. One was with a member of the Gungywamp Society. Neither tour guide mentioned the heart or showed it to us. You could do an internet search on Gungywamp Society and find their Facebook page. You could also try contacting the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic Connecticut as they now arrange the tours.
I am not sure in what context you saw the heart. Is it possible it was not discussed as it is new vandalism rather than part of the original site. It is on private land, but there are people who sneak in there unescorted.
© 2012 Ellen Gregory